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Inaugural UWS digital art commission creates digital Paisley patterns for every citizen in the world

A digital art project which will create 7.3 billion unique Paisley patterns to support the town’s bid to become UK City of Culture, launches this week.

The ambitious £25,000 project at Paisley Museum, funded by University of the West of Scotland (UWS) and Renfrewshire Council, is the final outcome of the inaugural UWS Paisley Digital Art Commission originated by UWS Creative Media Academy director Professor Nick Higgins and awarded to artist duo Vicky Isley and Paul Smith aka boredomresearch.

Inaugural UWS digital art commission creates digital Paisley patterns for every citizen in the world

Developed over a 12-month period, with the participation of the people of Paisley via three hands-on workshops – for pupils, students and older people - delivered by the artists in collaboration with the UWS Creative Media Academy, the resulting installation transforms the world-famous Paisley pattern for the digital age.

Specially coded software has been created to generate digital patterns which will be displayed on a high definition screen mounted within a 19th Century style weaving loom. Taking their inspiration from the museum’s world leading natural history collection, including the most celebrated catalogue of American avian life, Birds of America, the artists have created a unique live installation of digital organisms.

Due to the billions of possible pattern combinations, each viewer will have a unique visitor experience whereby the pattern they witness will only ever be displayed once on the loom screen. In an innovative move, the University has made it possible for the first 1,000 visitors to have the opportunity to take home a unique printed pattern from the exhibit. Entitled ‘Paisley Pearls’, the artwork will remain on display at the museum until 15 January 2017.

The duo behind boredomresearch, Vicky Isley and Paul Smith, recent winners of the 2016 Lumen Prize for the Moving Image, have work exhibited worldwide, including at the DAM GALLERY in Berlin and the House of Electronic Arts in Basel, Switzerland.

Professor Nick Higgins said: “The Paisley pattern brought the town's name and imagery to the farthest reaches of the world in the 19th century, now boredomresearch are helping us bring our heritage into the digital age.

“We are excited to welcome people from Paisley, the UK and beyond, to experience this digital reinvention of the iconic Paisley pattern and to be part of the bid to show that Paisley deserves to be City of Culture in 2021.”

Boredomresearch artist Vicky Isley said: “We are greatly inspired by the mechanisms which give rise to the beauty present in nature. From the start of the UWS Paisley Digital Art Commission, we wanted to explore the diversity of the Paisley pattern alongside our research.

“The ethos behind the project is about creating a real link between contemporary technology, and natural organisms while also playing homage to the Paisley pattern which has played a role in Paisley’s history for hundreds of years.”

Renfrewshire Council leader Mark Macmillan said: "Paisley Pearls brings together several elements Paisley is exceptionally good at - creativity, community engagement and digital innovation - and comes at a time when the town's cultural assets are rising in profile.

"UWS is a key part of Paisley's bid for UK City of Culture 2021 and we would like to congratulate them on this initiative, which will allow visitors to the exhibit to experience a totally unique and modern interpretation of the Paisley Pattern and to take a little piece of ‘Paisley’ home with them."

The University’s heritage dates back to Paisley Technical College and School of Art, founded in 1897. Today, UWS is one of the sector leaders in digital technologies and plays a key role in enhancing the cultural life of Paisley.

This free public exhibition will run at Paisley Museum from 2 November 2016 until 15 January 2017.