Future Art and Culture at SXSW 2024

South By Southwest (SXSW) is not only the world’s famous festival for new music but also an essential place on the map when it comes to exploring new technology, films, culture and education together with tens of thousands of visitors every year.

This year at SXSW, we’re back with Selector Radio and, once again, joining forces with British Underground and Arts Council England's Future Arts and Culture (FAC) programme for its most ambitious showcase of pioneering UK talent yet.

FAC provides a platform for truly immersive and innovative new work, demonstrating that the UK continues to be a world leader in the realm of cutting-edge arts. These will be presented – along with exhibitions, panel discussions, partnerships and networking events – at SXSW, between 10 and 14 March 2024.

The diverse, interactive experiences will feature in the SXSW XR Experience track and include immersive AI (artificial intelligence), VR (virtual reality) and XR (extended reality) projects, together with panels on the future of the arts in the digital realm, from timely themes focused on AI to Quantum Computing. High-profile presentations will include both US and international premieres of multidisciplinary commissions, including exceptional collaborations focused on music, film, photography and history.

You can find a full schedule of FAC events on the FAC website, including ‘How Artists Instigate New Horizons’ – with our very own Joel Mills (Director, Music) together with Monica Bello (CERN) – discussing how artists are at the forefront of future technology and culture.

On 12 March, if you're at SXSW, join us for the SXSW UK Immersive Takeover Party at the Downright Austin, East 10th St & Red River St, Austin, Texas.

Below, you can find out more about our previous envolvement with FAC.


Future Art and Culture, SXSW 2023

Here are the conversations and digital art commissions presented as part of Future Art and Culture 2023 at SXSW.

Exploring International Collaboration in Art and Tech

14 March, 14.00 – 15.00 at the British Music Embassy

Our Director, Music, Joel Mills, will lead this panel at the UK immsersive takeover day.

Joel Mills – Director, Music, British Council

Karen Palmer – Immersive Director and XR Exhibition Presenter

Claire Mera-Nelson – Director, Music, Arts Council England

Irini Papadimitriou – Creative Director, Future Everything

Future Art and Culture creates opportunities for UK arts, music and tech practitioners, artists and producers to showcase exciting and innovative new work, develop new creative networks and share their ideas. It’s vital that we collectively enable the UK creative sector, in the wake of the Covid 19 pandemic, to showcase talent and develop new international opportunities to secure its bright future.

– Joel Mills, Director, Music

From intimate immersive experiences to large-scale spectacular events, music, art and tech production requires a breadth of cross-disciplinary working to bring together the best talent and skills. International collaboration offers an opportunity to explore and learn with global partners leading to new networks and ground-breaking creative frontiers. This discussion explores best practice in international working including research and mapping. The panel will also address different approaches to collaborating across cultures including sources of funding and support.

In Pursuit of Repetitve Beats

Darren Emerson and East City Films’ critically acclaimed In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats will receive its US premiere at SXSW following its original presentation as part of Coventry City of Culture programme. A euphoric, interactive Virtual Reality adventure, In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats transports you into the heart of the UK’s acid house movement, where finding the party is the only thing that matters. Taking audiences on a multi-sensory joyride into the past, it brings to life the stories of the promoters, police officers and rave-goers, whose rivalries and relationships drove a revolution in music and society. This multi-sensory space enables participants to feel the anticipation, trepidation, excitement and euphoria that was Acid House.


Figural Bodies

Thanks to the continued support of Arts Council England and additional funding for 2023 from the British Council we have been able to support a record number of exhibitors and participants at SXSW this year. The quality and ambition of the VR, AR and XR projects being created in the UK today is exceptional and we look forward to sharing this work with the world during SXSW.

– Crispin Parry, Founder, British Underground

Conceived by Candoco Dance and Daniel Strut, Figural Bodies explores fantastical interaction and reimagines the ways in which the body is understood and represented through immersive technology. Seeking to challenge the absence of disabled bodies in immersive experiences, Figural Bodies is a motion-capture dance performance, which reimagines ableist representations, instead celebrating subversion and difference. Disabled dancers Kat Hawkins and Susanna Dye, located in Austin and London respectively, will be connected via a special motion capture tool and seek to find each other and communicate through virtual interaction. Audiences can watch in Virtual Reality (VR) as well as on screens, in live and pre-captured performance modes, in a powerful exploration of disability-centred design in immersive technology.


The Invited

The world premiere of The Invited – created by lead artists and directors Davy and Kristin McGuire of Studio Maguire – combines an exquisite fine art pop-up book with engrossing augmented reality animations to bring the story of Dracula to life as if by magic. Set in a dark, secret location, a physical book and a tablet dressed as a ‘spirit detector’ summon between one and five audience members at a time, through a captivating 20-minute experience where each page turn reveals a new exquisite paper world and a new set of haunting animations to those who are invited to become part of Dracula’s reincarnation.


Consensus Gentium

Future Art and Culture at SXSW has established itself as a major international annual showcase for artists and other creatives from this country working in the fields of VR, AR and XR … For this fifth edition, we are joined by new partners British Council and BFI. Their support will enable us to present more projects than ever and enable more opportunities for a wider range of this country’s creative talent to meet and work with their international peers.

– Simon Mellor, Deputy CEO, Arts and Culture at Arts Council England

Artist Karen Palmer’s Consensus Gentium – Latin for ‘if everyone believes it, it must be true’ – is a powerful exploration into the implications of today's AI technology. It is an interactive, emotionally responsive film that integrates cutting-edge facial detection and AI, and transports audiences on a unique quest to discover what could happen if we succumb to unchecked surveillance. Through a smartphone, participants must visit their sick grandmother across a dystopian city. However, in order to do so, they are required to download a government surveillance based Global Citizen App. While Global Citizen measures their levels of dissidence and compliance, they receive calls and messages from friends and rogue techno-activists who reveal the consequences of their choices. How will they navigate the line between compliance and dissidence in order to care for their loved ones? And at what cost? Consensus Gentium is an interactive experience designed to drive discussion about data privacy, unconscious biases and the power of technology.


Mrs Benz

Singer Studio’s 40-minute interactive VR piece Mrs Benz recently debuted at the Venice Biennale as part of Venice Immersive. Set in Germany in 1888, Mrs Benz dives into the perspective of a courageous woman who invested her reputation in her husband, Karl Benz, and his ‘horseless carriage’. Bertha stole her husband’s Motorwagen to travel 120 km with her two children, making his car world-famous in the process. Discover Bertha’s fascinating backstory via a Quest 2 Headset, search for the blueprints of this revolutionary contraption, and learn how to assemble its engine as you drive the world’s first ever car out of the Benz workshop, for the first ever time.


Time Investigators

Picture This Productions has been nominated for a 2023 SXSW Innovation Award and presents Time Investigators (US title), the world's first multi-sensory augmented reality game. Aimed at engaging family audiences in diverse stories from history, the game turns players into time-travelling detectives. They must use their sight, sound and smell to investigate mysteries from the past.


Mirocolabs with Miro Shot

Future Art and Culture also builds on the success of its 2022 partnership with UK musicians Miro Shot, who present a ground-breaking concert that uses virtual reality and live music, using technology they have developed through their UK startup: ‘Mirocolabs’ described by the BBC as being ‘at the forefront of bringing VR to music.’


Selector Radio at SXSW

We’re also bringing our very own Selector Radio to SXSW, ready to capture live sets from five incredible UK artists and share them with the world whether you’re lucky enough to at SXSW yourself or not!