In 2015, Austin achieved the distinction of being the first (and only) city in the United States to receive a “City of Media Arts” designation from UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and CulturalOrganization). The designation underscores Austin’s reputation as a trendsetting global city at the intersection of art, music, and digital technology, and an international hub for creative exchange.
From individual artists to wide-ranging arts organizations, Austin has a rich and diverse cultural ecosystem. The city is recognized for its innovation and leadership in industries including music, film, gaming, and multidisciplinary digital experiences, and festivals such as South by Southwest (SXSW), Austin City Limits and the Fusebox Festival have made Austin a premiere cultural destination.
As a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN), Austin works individually and in partnership with other UNESCO cities to promote creativity and cultural industries, strengthen participation in cultural life, and assure the integration of culture into urban development plans.
To learn more about Austin's UNESCO designation and activities, click the image below.
UPDATE ON UNESCO ACTIVITIES
UNESCO MEDIA ARTS SHOWCASE AT SXSW
The Cultural Arts Division and SXSW have joined forces to develop the first annual UNESCO Media Arts Showcase at SXSW. Hosted March 12-13, as an official part of SXSW’s art program and its new Cities Summit, the showcase comprises a mini-exhibition of media art installations and a companion panel discussion highlighting the global initiatives of the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Creative Cities Network. The mission of the Cities Summit to “..foster collaboration between civic leaders and creative urbanists of all disciplines to learn, strategize, and form coalitions to transform the cities of tomorrow” aligns with the goals of Austin’s UNESCO designation, creating a natural partnership and perfect synergy for the City and SXSW.
The UNESCO Media Arts Showcase at SXSW, hosted at the Four Seasons Austin on March 12-13, will feature installations by local artists or artist teams whose work explores the intersection of art and technology:
Modeled after Edison’s Kinetoscope, Forgotten Landscapes by James Hughes and Ha Na Lee connects viewers to the last known locations of missing persons via interactive, 360-degree virtual reality videos featuring Austin landscapes.
Gathering, by Lisa Woods, is an interactive installation that invites participants to use their hands as a canvas for storytelling. The work explores group portraiture and participatory art, and celebrates how technology can help tell stories in new ways.
Yuliya Lanina's Herstory, a motion-activated sculpture featuring a miniaturized and distorted replica of the artist, embodies humor, compassion, and silent sorrow— an examination of the human condition. An accompanying fiddler bunny in a golden dress plays original music by Yevgeniy Sharlat.
Luke Savisky’s Passage (Variation) conjures cinematic memory and perceptual illusion via a three dimensional, virtual passageway made of flickering multi-layered white light, emanating from multiple vintage 16mm projectors.
Visitors to the Media Arts Showcase had an opportunity to discover two cutting-edge art installations on view in Austin: Wander, recently launched by artists Chris Gannon, Chadwick Wood and Brockett Davidson, is an interactive, choose-your-own adventure installation featuring a sculptural beacon and mobile-optimized web app that takes visitors throughout downtown Austin. Jonathan Chomko and Matthew Rosier’s Shadowing a public art installation that utilizes city streetlights to capture and project shadows of passersby, was on view in select locations around the city during the SXSW festival.
In tandem with the exhibition, a panel discussion was held March 12 at 2PM at the Four Seasons. The session explored the role of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network and the individual and joint initiatives of its members to promote creativity and cultural industries, strengthen participation in cultural life, and assure the integration of culture into urban development plans.
Participating panelists included:
Meghan Wells, Manager, Austin Cultural Arts Division (UNESCO City of Media Arts- Austin)
Patrick Bartos, CEO, Creative Region, Linz & Upper Austria (UNESCO City of Media Arts-Linz)
Natsumi Ohara, Community & Cultural Promotion Bureau (UNESCO City of Media Arts-Sapporo)
Kevin Reilly, Creative Software and Hardware Engineer, Founding Partner of the new media arts vûrv collective; With vûrv collective, Reilly represented Austin at the 2017 Gwangju Cultural Foundation Meeting and Artist Exchange Exhibition
AUSTIN PARTICIPATES IN UNESCO MEDIA ARTS EXHIBITIONS
As part of the City of Media Arts cluster, Austin participates in international UNESCO exhibitions.
Vurv Collective (Kevin Reilly) represented Austin at the Gawngju Cultural Foundation Artist Exchange Exhibition in December 2017. The exhibition featured works from several other UNESCO Media Arts Cities and was held in conjunction with the 2017 Gwangju Cultural Foundation Meeting, which City staff attended.
Flow Factory by Vurv Collective
Artist Clay Odom (Studio Modo) represented Austin at the UNESCO “Data City” exhibition in Enghien-les-Bains, France, April-July 2017. The exhibition featured works from several other UNESCO Media Arts Cities and was held in conjunction with the 2017 Creative Cities Annual Meeting, which CAD staff attended.
Flowering Phantasm by Clay Odom/Studiomodo
World premiere 3D interactive audio-visual performance by RGBA/Future Flamenco at Protos Festival in Austin, Texas, May 2013. Photo by Meg Seidel.