Visitor Information


Social Networking Unplugged

1 - 5 May, CUBE exhibition till 17 May

All artworks are free to view/take part in.

Futuresonic 2008 Curatorial Statement

Futuresonic presents a sideways and playful look at social networking - for five days and nights Manchester will be the most sociable city on the planet as the city centre is overrun with ‘unplugged’ social networking.

The first major art exhibition to present a comprehensive and creative look at social networking, featuring a major conference plus 20 world premieres, UK firsts and commissions from an array of international artists connecting this theme to Futuresonic’s long standing focus on presenting social and participatory artworks in unexpected city spaces. 

Art Map Download Art Tours start from ThePublicSpace on Piccadilly Gardens every day at 12noon & 4pm, 1-5 May.

  Futuresonic Art
All Around

Some artworks do not take place in any one location, but involve everyone everywhere across the city, in the streets, at work, in the bars and clubs, on the bus...

Grennan & Sperandio

Everyone is invited to join a social network which aims to "bring the people of Manchester closer together," supported by Piccadilly Partnership.
(Commission/World Premiere)

Aram Bartholl

Expect to see people with 'speech bubbles' floating above their heads having a comic-strip-like 'chat' across the street or in music venues.
(UK First)

Aram Bartholl

Join trails of people with their name in chunky green lettering above their heads in the same way their avatars do online.
(UK First)

Improv Everywhere
Time Stops In Manchester

Improv Everywhere cause scenes of joy and chaos in public places. Join the flash mob and freeze together on the spot.
(Commission/UK First)

Simon Yuill
FSF - 'the free social foundations project'

Discover how 'free' and 'open' the spaces in your city truly are - from public parks and street corners, to shopping centres, cafes, clubs and community halls.
(Commission/World Premiere)

Single Cell Collective
In Search Of The Social In Manchester

Explore the use of public space in our city, followed by film screenings and live music.
(Commission/World Premiere)

Matthew Fuller 
Digger Barley

Take a pack of barley seeds and spread them around Manchester to sow the seeds of revolution.

Online/Offline and Futuresonic Lounge

An event where the music is selected from the audience's preferences online, taking the web 2.0 concept "unplugged".

Paul Sermon 
They Live (in Second Life)

Merging 'Second Life' with the real space of the festival venue, allowing 'first life' visitors and 'second life' avatars to share the same space

Digital Situations 
Dirt Party

An installation that searches the web for information on people at social events and presents live mashup gossip reports.
(UK First)

antisocial notworking

An online collection of artworks critical of Web 2.0 including logo_wiki, Participation 0.0 - Part I, Google Will Eat Itself, Amazon Noir, and www_hack.


Many artworks are located in unexpected city locations, around Piccadilly Gardens - the historic heart of Manchester, continuing past China Town down Portland Street to the exhibition at CUBE, and then along Oxford Road towards the main music and conference venues and the Futuresonic Social at Contact Theatre.

Drew Hemment and Martin Stockley

A temporary architectural structure in Piccadilly Gardens open to the people of Manchester to meet, mingle and socialise.
(Commission/World Premiere)

plan b

An empty shop window converted into an 'unplugged' alternative to MySpace offers festival visitors the ability to create their own space.
(Commission/World Premiere)

Rajni Shah Theatre
Small Gifts: Give what you can, take what you need

A big dinner party, to which everyone is invited, in Piccadilly Gardens invites passers-by to eat, talk and meet new people.
(Commission/World Premiere)

Christoph Wachter & Mathias Jud
Wang Ba Manchester

This temporary internet cafe, or 'Wang Ba', is meeting place to explore issues such as censorship and freedom on the web.
(Commission/World Premiere)

You And Me
Pub Safari

Creating a trail between unique and sometimes forgotten pubs, you are invited to join the locals in a game of Three-sided Chess.
(Commission/world Premiere)

Aleks Kolkowski
CD-Recycled 45rpm

A social music sharing event with a difference - bring music files and take away CDs/DVDs you can play on a turntable.
(Commission/World Premiere)

Gavin McClafferty 
The Last Gallery

An architectural structure made from recycled materials will host a series of happenings over the festival weekend.

Part of a long term effort to create a free and open source space in Manchester.

Geraldine Juárez
Freewear: The Manchester Collection

A workshop and fashion show making fashion items from clothing obtained from Freecycle. Cant pay, wont pay.
(UK First)

Artists Talks

Art and Social Media
Saturday 3rd May
1pm - 3pm
MDDA (next to CUBE), Portland Street
Free artist presentations exploring central themes in this year's Futuresonic Art.

In The

Forming the centrepiece of the exhibition, located in CUBE on Portland Street at the midway point between the city-centre festival sites and the main music and conference venues on Oxford Road, is an exhibition of artworks exploring the social networking unplugged theme. CUBE exhibition runs until 17 May.

Thomson & Craighead : The Social Networking Suite One of the UK's best-known collaborative teams in new media art, Thomson & Craighead, present three artworks:

Thomson & Craighead

See Osama bin Laden's Flickr photo collection and discover Tony Blair's catalogue of damaged roofracks.
(Commission/world Premiere

Thomson & Craighead

A 'crowd scene' of overlaid mouse icons which seemingly having a personality as if they were the people themselves.
(Commission/world Premiere)

Thomson & Craighead
Flat Earth

A desktop expedition and documentary, woven from satellite imagery to make an extraordinary seven-minute journey around the world.
(First time shown in a gallery context in UK)

Aram Bartholl
Drop in to create your own page in a book of Friends, which can be personalised using stickers, polaroid photos and text.
(Commission/World Premiere)

Simon Yuill
FSF - 'the free social foundations project'

The map will be displayed in the gallery as well as made available online and distributed freely across Manchester.
(Commission/World Premiere)

David Merrit and Julian Priest
Terms of Endearment

Terms of Endearment highlights the value per user to online social-networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn, and the depth of the small print many of us never read.
(Commission/World Premiere)

World Tour

The exhibition will tour to Leeds and London in 2008 and 2009 as part of the Social Networking Unplugged World Tour, presented as a part of a new creative collaboration between Futuresonic and Nuffield Theatre.

Social Networking Unplugged is curated by Drew Hemment and presented by FutureEverything in association with ImaginationLancaster and Nuffield Theatre Lancaster.

With thanks to Matt Fenton, Charlie Gere and the Futuresonic Advisory Group.

The Futuresonic 2008 Art Award was assessed by the Futuresonic 2008 Art Jury:

Adrian Woolard (Head of Innovation Culture, BBC R&I / UK)
Dooeun Choi (Curator, Art Center Nabi / South Korea)
Drew Hemment (Director, Futuresonic / UK)
Lucas Bambozzi (Curator, / Brazil)
Michaela Crimmin (Head of Arts, Royal Society of Art / UK)