It’s been more than a decade since Australian-born global design conference Semi Permanent last took place in Melbourne. But it’s finally making a comeback with a new event called Never Permanent, as part of 17-day city-wide festival Now or Never.
Expect a full day of talks from local and international creatives, with eight keynote presentations and panel discussions focusing on how technology is reshaping creative industries. Curator Mitchell Oakley Smith considers it timely, in a world where creatives are now often at odds with technological advancements.
“Particularly in the creative industries, there’s a lot of nervousness around these technologies usurping our roles,” he says. “Can a graphic designer or a film editor or a musician lose their jobs because a bot can do it for them, through an algorithm?”
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But Never Permanent asks: what if we saw this as an opportunity instead? “How can creatives leverage technology to their advantage?” poses Oakley Smith. “How can technology unlock creativity to a degree never seen before?”
Headlining the conference is filmmaker Roman Coppola. Hailing from a filmmaking dynasty, he was the sixth Coppola to be nominated for an Oscar, earning a nod in 2013 for his writing on frequent collaborator Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom; they’ve also worked together on The French Dispatch, Isle of Dogs and The Darjeeling Limited. Their latest project, Asteroid City, comes out in cinemas two weeks before Coppola’s appearance at Never Permanent.
“I think that Roman in particular is a really exciting speaker to have on the program given what is currently happening within Hollywood,” says Oakley Smith, “That whole industry [is] just shifting so much because of the streaming revolution, and all these other forces make it a pivotal moment in filmmaking.”
Non-profit Decentralized Pictures was established by American Zoetrope, the production company of Roman’s father, director Francis Ford Coppola (of The Godfather and Apocalypse Now fame), and George Lucas. Now and his sister, film director Sofia, along with their niece, photographer and filmmaker Gia, are at the helm, aiming to provide access and financing for emerging filmmakers through awards, grants, mentorships, and its own blockchain platform.
Blockchain technology is a digital ledger that keeps record of cryptocurrency transactions in such a way that the record can’t be altered. Through this technology, Decentralized Pictures hopes to revolutionise trust and transparency around contracts and production rights bidding in the film industry.
Also on the program is New York-based designer and technologist Mindy Seu, who traces the history of digital feminist theory and internet art back to the ’80s. She’s the editor of book Cyberfeminism Index (based on her ongoing project and website of the same name), which features more than 1000 entries of radical techno-critical activism in media, short essays, descriptions of hackerspaces, and more from contributors across the globe.
Cyberfeminism is a term that emerged in the ’90s to describe the intersection of feminist theory and practices, and cyberculture. Seu’s keynote at Never Permanent will be her first live book talk in Australia.
And, no stranger to Semi Permanent, Perth-born multidisciplinary artist Ta-ku started as a musician but has expanded his artistic pursuits to include photography, design and fashion brand Cozy. He’ll appear at Never Permanent on the eve of releasing his debut album Songs to Come Home To.
“He is this creative polymath,” says Oakley Smith. “He very rarely performs live anymore. It’s not his preferred way of engaging with an audience. Ta-ku is an example of musicians exploring new ways to connect with their audience … he has built out a visual language, through his album art, his merchandise, and all these other projects that have become so complementary to his music.”
Other highlights on the Never Permanent line-up include multimedia artist and musician Serwah Attafuah; Meta’s VP of product design for AR and wearables, Joshua To distinguished designer Hector Ouilhet; photographer and filmmaker Justin Ridler; multimedia artist and composer Jesse Woolston; and Old Ways, New Founder Angie Abdilla.
Across the wider Now or Never program, there’s a multi-sensory dining experience by Supernormal, a one-night-only music festival by Untitled Group, and massive pop-up dome, the Neversphere.
Broadsheet is a proud media partner of Now or Never.