Journey through social media hysteria in new digital artwork

The latest creative commission for the digital arts project will be revealed today (Wednesday 7th June 2017) in a new work examining the effect of social media storms on people’s political ideas.

Named ‘Histolyrical’, the online commission explores how social media influences our thought processes and asks the question: is the hysteria of social media compromising freedom of thought? is a unique online platform that enables young people to explore the legacy of Magna Carta through the lens of contemporary art.

Led by the University of Lincoln, UK, in collaboration with regional arts organisations, businesses, schools and the city and county councils, is supported using public funding from the National Lottery through an Exceptional Award from Arts Council England and a host of national and international partners.

It launched in June 2015 at Lincoln Castle as part of the international celebrations on the 800th anniversary of the sealing of ‘the great charter’ and culminates in November 2017, marking the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest and coinciding with Lincoln’s Frequency Festival of Digital Culture.

Histolyrical is the latest digital art commission for and arrives on the two-year anniversary of the platform’s launch. It has been created by artists Ben Peppiatt and Stephanie Bickford-Smith, who collaborated with a group of young people from Lincoln to develop the work.

Tracking the Facebook activity of volunteers from across the UK in the days leading up to the European Referendum in June 2016, the artists explored social media consumption, tone of voice and content positioning in those pivotal days before the vote, considering how social media influences thought processes through subliminal messages.

The online experience takes the viewer on a metaphorical train journey, where they gaze out of the window and are lulled by trance-inducing soundtracks. They must decide whether or not to allow their thoughts to be interrupted by those of others as words appear on the screen, either abandoning themselves to these random musings or banishing them with a click of a button.

Artist Stephanie Bickford-Smith said: “Social media sites are super-efficient platforms that aid connectivity and information exposure. Increasingly they are becoming our gateway to the internet. However these sites are designed for consumption rather than contemplation. With HistoLyrical we are interested in questioning the impact this has upon our ability to think and process information coherently and what a more contemplative solution inspired by offline behaviours could look like.”

The online experience is the fourth of five artistic commissions planned for It follows the success of ‘The Empty Throne’, a featurette on Magna Carta created by Lincoln School of Film and Media filmmaker Phil Stevens and Lincolnshire scriptwriter Laura Turner, ‘Time for Rights’ live video event by Tim Kindberg and ‘spaceREC’ soundscape project by Kathrin Böhm.

Dr Sarah Barrow, Deputy Head of the College of Arts at the University of Lincoln and project lead at the University, said: “All the artworks produced for have examined themes of freedom, liberty and democracy in interesting and insightful ways and this latest work tackles one of the most pressing questions facing democracies today: the influence of social media on how we think and interact with one another.”

Histolyrical will be released on at 12 noon on Wednesday 7th June. For the full experience, Histolyrical is best accessed on a tablet or a computer. The website also features an interview with the artists and the story behind their commission.

Lincoln film to feature at the EIFF


The Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) has revealed a host of movies with Scottish connections set to play at its 70th anniversary edition, with one coming all the way from Lincoln!

The festival will see the world premiere of ‘Natalie’, a short film directed by Dr Mikey Murray, from the Lincoln School of Film and Media, and exec produced by his partner Angela Waddell who also works at the University.

The film, which stars renowned actress Kate Dickie, well-known for her portrayal of Lysa Arryn in Game of Thrones, is in competition at the festival in the Best Short Film category.

In the film, Natalie, a determined woman in her forties returns to the village of her troubled childhood for her father’s funeral. Compelled by the prejudice her family has shown towards her and painful memories of her upbringing, she confronts her past in order to be at peace with her future.

The pair were inspired to create the film to expose some of the casual prejudices they witnessed growing up in ‘small-town’ Scotland, and returned to Dr Murray’s hometown of Carnoustie in North East Scotland to shoot the film. They were joined by LSFM graduate, Tara Clements, who took on the role of Production Assistant.

The Lincoln connection continued when the group returned to the University, drawing on the expertise of several members of academic staff to complete the film. Chris Hainstock took care of post-production sound on the film, while Jon Holmes graded the film and Jack Shelbourn shot additional pick-up cinematography. The original music to the film was written and performed by David McSherry.

Dr Murray has previously won four awards for his films, including the New Talent Scottish BAFTA Award for Best First Time Writer in 2008.  He has also been selected for this year’s ‘Talent Lab’ at the EIFF, a coveted four-day industry networking event for ‘up-and-coming’ filmmakers.

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Success for SFPA Senior Lecturer in British Council Showcase 2017

An academic at the University of Lincoln is celebrating after his company is selected for the British Council Showcase 2017.

Dr Andrew Westerside, from the School of Fine and Performing Arts, is the Co-Artistic Director of Proto-type Theater, a company of multi-disciplinary artists based in the UK who make and produce original work that is diverse in scale, subject and medium.

The company has been selected for the 20th anniversary Edinburgh Showcase, the British Council’s biennial platform of contemporary UK performance alongside the Edinburgh Festivals in August.

As one of the most prestigious platforms for touring theatre and performance in the UK, it is one of the biggest opportunities for theatre and dance companies to introduce their work to international promoters.

Speaking after the announcement, Dr Westerside said: “Being in the Showcase feels like a really big stamp of approval for your work. There’s only 30 pieces of work selected, and to be part of that, out of a whole industry’s worth of work, is fantastic.

“Being selected means that programmers and presenters from all over the world get to see your work, and that can mean making new international partnerships and touring opportunities.

“In 2011, when we were last selected, we were lucky enough to travel to Armenia and Zimbabwe as a result of the showcase. It’s an incredible way to bring your work to wider audiences, because being part of the showcase is a recognition that your work is of an international standard.”

The play that will be performed at the showcase, ‘A Machine They’re Secretly Building’ has now been published by Oberon Modern Plays. To find out more, visit: