Conference

CURRENTS Conference 2020, presented by CURRENTS New Media and our partner SITE Santa Fe, is a two-day conference about the future through the lens of emerging media. The Conference will extend the interdisciplinary approach of the Festival, diving into the two technologies we believe will shape culture in the 2020s: Extended Reality (XR) and Artificial Intelligence—and how these two will work in concert to shape future realities. Our goal is to investigate the unconventional and the uncomfortable, as new technologies continue to change faces and change uses.

Join us in Santa Fe, New Mexico to enjoy two full days of talks and panels by artists and industry leaders, participate in breakout sessions with your favorite presenters, feast on catered lunches, make new friends on the rooftop deck at the end of our day and learn alongside us during CURRENTS Con 2020.

“For the past 11 years, CURRENTS Festival has presented art at the edge, from artists who foreground the process of discovery in the act of creation. Where their peers create within the safe bounds of accepted media, the artists presented here share the ambition to discover, analyze, and interrogate what new forms of expression might exist in new technologies­. In the process, they generate new languages of interaction with these tools and their place in culture—building the proverbial plane as it’s tearing down the runway.

They’re inviting conversations—ones that rarely, if ever, offer clear answers.

This year, CURRENTS Conference seeks to extend that legacy by manifesting those conversations. In our view, two forces have announced themselves as the defining technologies of the 2020s: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Extended Reality (XR).

Both are broad terms. AI is maybe the broader of the two, incorporating a massive and growing family of technologies including machine learning, computer vision, natural language processing, and many, many others. XR, meanwhile, encapsulates immersive “reality” technologies like virtual, augmented, and mixed reality—but also seemingly adjacent technologies such as haptics, RFID, and projection mapping.

One relates to how we will process, organize, and analyze information. The other, to our sensory perception of not only the digital world, but the physical one. Though different, they’ll work in concert to craft our realities. Just as advances in computer vision will enhance the capabilities of augmented reality, data culled from AR hardware will improve CV algorithms.

Sooner than many of us think, these realities—and they are truly plural now—will be unlike anything we can yet imagine.

As CURRENTS Festival continues to reveal—these two broad buckets are ripe for creativity. But, as even a passing glance at the news over the past few years would indicate, they are also ripe for exploitation, extractive capitalism, and other bad-faith activity—on a scale and speed that dwarfs anything ever before possible.

So, to put it bluntly: what are we going to do about it? How can we use these technologies for the good kind of innovation?

That’s the conversation we’ll be immersing ourselves in at the inaugural CURRENTS Conference.”

– Jesse Damiani, Curatorial Advisor, CURRENTS New Media Conference

“Currents New Media is one of the most incredible, annual showcases of digital and tech-driven art in the world. The Festival confirms Santa Fe’s place on art’s cutting edge”

– Co-Founder and former CEO of Meow Wolf, Vince Kadlubek

If you are able, we encourage you to come to Santa Fe before the conference or stay after to experience more of what our beautiful city and state have to offer – incredible landscapes, outdoor adventures, a wealth of art and culture, our many Native American Pueblos, great food and the CURRENTS Festival 2020, August 21 – 30.

The CURRENTS 2020 Festival , in its eleventh year, takes place in the 30,000 sq ft El Museo Cultural exhibition space directly across the street from the Conference at SITE. 

We will present 62 individual works by 90 artists from across the US and the world – interactive installations, single channel video and animation, robotics, multimedia performances, virtual and augmented reality environments, 3D printed objects, digital wearables, holography and things you have never dreamed of but will wish you had.

Ideally, you would arrive for the Festival’s opening night on Friday, August 21/6pm – midnight, and stay through the conference on Monday and Tuesday. Our Opening Night is attended by 3,000 visitors.

You can view documentation of our previous festivals on our Vimeo page.

Coinciding with the Festival is Santa Fe’s inaugural New Media Week Celebration. You will be able to visit events and exhibitions throughout the city.

A listing of things to do, restaurants and hotels can be found on the Visit Santa Fe page on our CURRENTS New Media website.