Pause Fest

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Technology and culture are developing at such a breakneck pace that it is sometimes necessary to simply press pause and figure out what is going on.

Pause Fest is Australia’s answer to the premier technology and culture festival, South by Southwest. While Pause Fest is a smaller event, held at Federation Square, and while it unfortunately lacks all the cool bands that South by Southwest attracts, it is an incredibly rewarding experience attending a stellar line up of lectures and masterclasses, and trying out some new technology.

This journalist will never forget putting on one of the latest Virtual Reality headsets at the exhibition stands of the festival. It was a totally immersive experience, you forget that it is not real. As the rollercoaster click clacks along, you peer over the right and left sides, it looks really high. The sensation of vertigo grips you, and as the rollercoaster rushes back down you feel your stomach lurch up as though it was really happening. The first person shooter game I tried was just as gripping.

Another glimpse into the future was the selection of 3D printers on display, printing out various objects from various materials.

There were a variety of master classes, from special effects, to 4D animations, to storytelling. A panel of specialists in their respective fields describe and show how they do what they do. This journalist couldn’t skip the storytelling master class. Listening to the best, the realisation dawns that storytelling can be exceptional, a skill this writer has not perfected yet, but at least after the class I know where the bar is.

The last lecture of the festival was on the future of culture, where an artist expressed with paint on canvas the impressions of the lecture while it was happening. It is safe to say, the future is exciting, with culture that is tangible, magical, interactive, and visually stunning.

According to the events founder George Hedon, “Pause Fest is a catalyst for change; it sparks innovation in the way individuals, not for profits, start-ups and multinationals interact.”

Pause Fest first debuted in 2010 with just a smattering of exhibitors and speakers held over three days, however news soon spread amongst Australia’s digital and creative cultures and this year the festival aims to draw 10,000 people over a week-long event.

“While we have over 100 speakers and exhibitors presenting at Pause Fest in February the festival is still very much in its infancy, and with only a shoe-string budget to play with the three of us are doing the work of ten to deliver the biggest and best event schedule to date,” George said.

Also managing the festival is Murray Galbraith, who put a lot of thought and care into making the festival accessible and interesting to all that attend. “Digital culture intersects with [so] much of the average person’s daily experiences that we feel responsible to ensure the festival showcases elements from almost every walk of life.”

This journalist can confirm it was a great experience and will save the date for next year.

By Daniel Wilson

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