Virtual artist residency to connect cities in unique digital art project | JORVIK Viking Centre

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Explore the Jorvik Group


29 July 2021

Virtual artist residency to connect cities in unique digital art project

A new partnership between The JORVIK Group and York’s Guild of Media Arts will form part of a major digital art project that connects 14 cities around the world.  South Korean media artist and film-maker, Taeheon Lee, will be hosted by York for a virtual residency, in which he’ll collaborate with other artists to create a series of digital works under the theme of PLAY!


The initiative involves 14 cities which hold UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts status, including Austin, Toronto, Tel Aviv and Dakar.  Each city has selected an artist to represent them, who will meet in three ‘labs’ (virtual workshops) to bring their ideas together to create an online exhibition, City to City, at the end of the year.  York’s selected artist, Taeheon, studied at the Royal College of Art in London and is based in Gwangju, South Korea.

This is the second year of the City to City initiative, which was created as a response to the global pandemic as a way of engaging with artists who were struggling to secure commissions in a locked-down world.


“The last 18 months has changed how people work together and connect, and fundamentally changed the way people interact with art and live performance stretching what digital media can do.  Whereas online music gigs were once seen as a poor substitute for attending an event live, they became premium events that people were happy to pay for, and actually achieved a far broader audience as geographic barriers were broken down,” explains Prof. Chris Bailey, Clerk of York’s Guild of Media Arts.  “This is the perfect time and space for us to be able to demonstrate how media arts can break through boundaries, with an exhibition of digital works that can be seen globally – and collaboration has been achieved using the same Zoom platforms with which we have all become remarkably familiar.”


The project was very attractive for The JORVIK Group, which has been expanding how it uses digital technology to broaden its reach and audiences.  Director of Attractions, Sarah Maltby, explains: “Behind the visitor attractions sits an education charity, and we always want to reach diverse audiences as best we can to create an interest and enthusiasm for archaeology and our heritage.  Our digital festival, That JORVIK Viking Thing, which replaced the physical Viking festival, reached 3.2 million around the globe, over 60 times more than come to York each February.  Our outreach activity around York is doing phenomenally well, whether that be through collaborations with York Dance Space or our upcoming projects on the social prescribing of archaeology, so the prospect of reaching further afield is very appealing, and we are delighted to be hosting Taeheon’s residency.”


From Chris Bailey’s perspective, the City to City initiative has been a very effective way of building the very connections that UNESCO City of Media Arts status offers.  “This is the first time so many cities have worked so closely together, sharing knowledge and skills for a common goal of this collective online exhibition, with the core planning group of five cities meeting virtually every week.  After a year where we have all had a reset in our lives, facing the unknown, this feels like a very positive step towards looking at what can and will change – and media arts certainly has a growing role to play.”


The Guild of Media Arts is the focal point of York UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts. Enquiries about the designation should be addressed to [email protected]