New tool ArtsAPI maps digital networks

Technology trendsetter FutureEverything has launched ArtsAPI, a new online tool that allows arts organisations to visualise the reach and impact of their online networks.

ArtsAPI gathers data from a company’s email records for the past 12 months and turns the information into a visual map of its online relationships, allowing users to identify areas with a strong presence, alongside areas in need of development. It also measures the frequency of keywords, as well as connectivity with cities, regions and countries.

FutureEverything hope that arts companies will use the tool to direct business plans. ‘Each organisation will have a different use for ArtsAPI and the tool is built to accommodate all types and sizes of cultural organisation,’ said ArtsAPI project manager Joeli Brearley.

Although best known for organising the FutureEverything Festival, this is not FE’s first foray into developing sector-specific technology tools. Last year it launched EUPORIAS (European Provision of Regional Impacts Assessments on Seasonal and Decadal Timescales), which aims to turn climate prediction data into a marketable commodity. The organisation previously developed software for sharing data between local government bodies in the Greater Manchester region.

ArtsAPI was developed via a core group of seven UK companies: Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Culture24, Redeye, Blast Theory, Forma, FutureEverything, and Islington Mill. Funding came from The Digital R&D Fund for the Arts, a £7m (€11m) fund from Arts Council England, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Nesta to support collaboration between arts projects, technology providers and researchers to explore the potential of increasing audience engagement or find new business models.

‘What we have developed is just the beginning. ArtsAPI is an incredibly complex tool, we have so many ideas for how we could develop this further,’ said Brearley, who added that further development is dependant on securing additional funding

In addition FutureEverything commissioned artists Ed Carter and David Cranmer to make a piece that expressed the concept of ArtsAPI. The resulting sculpture Smoke Signals uses subsonic frequencies to fire smoke into the air: ‘turbulence affecting the smoke rings represents online interactions, resulting in a constantly evolving visual and sonic experience.’ A video of the sculpture in action is on the ArtsAPI website.