virtual migrants connects and engages artists with digital media, and organises projects that add new aesthetics and perspectives to themes of race, migration and globalisation. virtual migrants create, exhibit and distribute artworks that incorporate digital media techniques that can be installed in galleries, public spaces or community venues.
Over the years we have produced interactive media art, film and music such as the "Terminal Frontiers" exhibition that has been shown in galleries across the UK and abroad, we have collaborated with UK-based artists and communities at all levels and geographies, have published educational resources about refuge and immigration, have created a series of performance works entitled "Passenger", and have produced a major publication "Exhale" as a DVD-CD-booklet box set covering five years of our productions. We are currently working on issues around race, refugees, and climate justice as well as other linkages.
virtual migrants association was founded in 1998 to bring together a range of artists, particularly those working in visual, music, performance and writing, to collaborate on moving image and new media projects. Its critical purpose is to add new aesthetics, artistic responses and perspectives to themes of race, migration and globalisation; to cross boundaries between artists and non-artists, including with theorists, activists and communities; to draw attention to expressions of migrants whose existence is held in question; and to artistically explore and respond to the causes of racialised political issues which continually make headline news.
digital media artists and productions responding to themes of race, migration and globalisation
"VIRTUAL MIGRANTS: Imperialism as Deportation, Art as Ideology" - an article by Kuljit 'Kooj' Chuhan originally published in Variant (1998), the version shown here as published by Experimenta (Australia).
"Virtual Migrants: Exhale" - an article by Kooj Chuhan included with the Exhale Publication and also published by DXN magazine (2006).
"The Good, The Bad and The Uncomfortable: the artists role in support of displaced migrants and refugees" by Kooj Chuhan (2009)
PHILOSOPHY: Our work is focused loosely around issues of refugees and exile, asylum and deportation - basically migrants who are denied status or state acceptance: stateless migrants. We aim to produce work that is artistic, educative, and politically engaged, and in doing so we want to contribute to a progressive anti-imperialist culture and aesthetic. A part of this is to actively encourage a development and introduction of aesthetics derived from outside the western, eurocentric core of new media arts, a dominance which permeates work produced outside the geographic boundaries of the western and developed regions. This necessarily means entering new territory and engaging with a new set of aesthetics relevant to an ever-changing dynamic model of artistic development in all nations and cultures, in spite of western views and globalising forces which encourage a view of developing countries as having largely traditional and static cultures.
PERSPECTIVES: We know that alternative ideas are powerful tools, and unfortunately we are not going to get them from the mainstream media or arts establishment. We are one of a number of groups around the country (and the world) giving expression to radical and alternative perspectives on western barriers to inward migration and the wider context within which this takes place. We want to explore the root causes of this situation historically and politically, not simply at the way the British system deals with migrants and refugees (which tends to dominate current debates). Our members are also mainly migrants people, and our work involves migrants at all levels, as much engaged with the art as with the politics. We are also interested in the holistic and less fragmented nature of much non-western culture, and the need to develop organic and intuitive links between the various art-form disciplines coming from migrant communities with the emerging creative media technologies.
PRODUCTION and DISSEMINATION: We create work that uses video, CD-ROM and other digital techniques, that presents sound and moving pictures in unusual and engaging ways, that can be installed in galleries, public spaces or community centres, or can be distributed as CD-ROMs, DVDs or on the web. Major distribution and broadcast is sewn up and hostile to presenting progressive views with any clarity; one alternative which we are trying out is to see if installing our work in central and local areas, and also touring such work around the country and abroad, can reach out to and involve people with particular realities and perspectives which can either challenge or re-affirm depending on the viewers’ own allegiances and empathy. Digital arts may be in their infancy, but they are fast expanding and even faster becoming appropriated by liberal artists and the mainstream – it is crucial that critical and suppressed progressive voices use these technologies to their full cultural potential.
For updates about this site and our work, or to contact us, email:
The following sites are a start, and a source of further links:
Refugee Project - How UK
Foreign Investment Creates Refugees and Asylum Seekers:
National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns: www.ncadc.org.uk
Institute of Race Relations: www.irr.org.uk
The Refugee Council: www.refugeecouncil.org.uk
Forced Migration Review: www.fmreview.org
Theatre - 30 years' work with marginalized and disadvantaged communities:
Multi-story - collaborative arts programme, Glasgow: www.multi-story.org
Shahidul News - solid analysis of global issues with creative documentary: http://shahidul.wordpress.com/
Mongrel - media-arts collective and collaborations: www.mongrel.org.uk
Selected websites giving information about or demonstrating the work of the artists involved:
The Cosmopolitan City and Manchester Migrants - workshops in 2009: www.socialsciences.manchester.ac.uk/ricc/events/migrants/
'Global Eyes' Art Exhibition at SIGGRAPH 2007: http://reports.siggraph.org/s2007/venue-articles/art-gallery-digital-performances/
'Creolising Europe' Conference, Manchester University: http://www.llc.manchester.ac.uk/research/centres/mdcsn/conferences/programme/Fileuploadmax10Mb,118409,en.pdf
Artists Newsletter, a review of Exhale: www.a-n.co.uk/interface/reviews/single/415496
ISEA 2006 - poster presentation by Kooj Chuhan of theory and practice behind What If I'm Not Real: http://2006.01sj.org/content/view/574/145/
Variant magazine interview with Kooj Chuhan: http://www.variant.randomstate.org/17texts/17kooj.html
BBC coverage of Terminal Frontiers: www.bbc.co.uk/derby/content/articles/2004/10/07/art_2004_virtual_migrants_event_feature.shtml
Arts Council England newsletter feature on Terminal Frontiers: www.artscouncil.org.uk/documents/newsletters/phpA2Wj5J.pdf
Mute Magazine on Virtual Migrants at Futuresonic 2002: www.metamute.org/en/Futuresonic-Migrations
A Sense Of Place international conference on displacement and integration in Europe through arts, culture and media: http://www.asenseofplace.org.uk/index.php
NY Arts Magazine: http://nyartsmagazine.com/69/previews.htm
Neural new media activism: http://www.neural.it/nnews/terminalfrontiers.htm
Mailout magazine article references as Asylum Seekers, about the CD-ROM: http://www.e-mailout.org/magfm02.htm
RAM Bulletin, p4 (Refugees, Asylum Seekers and the Mass Media Project): http://www.ramproject.org.uk/bulletins/archive/2Sep2002.pdf
ISEA 2006 artist presentation: http://2006.01sj.org/content/view/895/48/
Through The Looking Glass exhibition (Ohio, USA): http://www.voyd.com/ttlg/textual/kuljit.htm
ISEA 2000 Symposium on Electronic Art (Paris): http://www.isea2000.com/an/pop_symp_village.htm
A Sense Of Place conference: http://www.asenseofplace.org.uk/speakers.php?speaker=kchuhan
Explore, Expand, Exchange museum arts project: http://www.exploreexpandexchange.net/artists.html
Kooj Chuhans official website: www.kooj.net
A Sense Of Place Conference: www.asenseofplace.org.uk/speakers.php?speaker=ajolly
Work with High Peak Community Arts, New Mills, Derbyshire: www.highpeakarts.org/whatson.htm
Work with Banner Theatre, Birmingham: www.bannertheatre.co.uk/past_projects.htm
Aidan's own official websites: www.aidanjolly.com www.myspace.com/aidanjolly
Previous work in Klezmer duo Schalom-Bakhshayesh: www.passiondiscs.co.uk/e_pages/balkan_e/ethnocd01.htm
Also check her extensive work with Banner Theatre: www.bannertheatre.co.uk
Digital Art Resource for Education: http://www.dareonline.org/themes/play/piper.html
Animate Online: http://www.animateonline.org/films/gowestyoungman.html
Ottawa Art Gallery: http://www.ottawaartgallery.ca/publications/keith_piper-ramona_ramlochand-en.php
Mute issue 6 - interview: http://dspace.dial.pipex.com/town/park/di21/bumped_files/piper.htm
Keith Piper's official site: www.keithpiper.com