Lancaster University: International innovation award for Lancaster University contemporary art student

A Lancaster University PhD Student and video artist has received international recognition for her work this month.

Tess Baxter’s doctorate was awarded the Rieger Award by the International Visual Sociology Association, for the innovative way in which it connected how we use the internet with everyday life.

Her work combines writing with 40 pieces of video art, and printmaking as well, to explore how people used the online virtual world of ‘Second Life’.

Tess said: “I was interested in Second Life because it has now existed for 18 years, which is almost an eternity on the internet, and people have formed communities there.

“Creativity is important, and very much shared among users, so I was able to use it creatively for my video art, which, in turn, I shared.

“I feel very honoured to have been given this award. I would like to thank Professor Charlie Gere and Dr Jen Southern at Lancaster University for supporting me to do this. It’s been such a wonderful experience”.

Tess’s video art can be seen on her account on Vimeo, where she uses her pseudonym vimeo.com/tizzycanucci, and all her work can be seen on www.tessbaxter.com.

Tess is a video artist and printmaker who blends different technologies and worlds. Her video art is made out of (rather than ‘in’) a digital online world, as she edits it together with Creative Commons and public domain material from other places and times, to make the past and present talk to each other.

In turn she has taken her video art into traditional printmaking, to explore the relationship between digital production (and light) and mechanical production (and ink).

Tess has a creative background, having made a living from photography, graphic design, writing and model making. These inform her current practice, along with her personal and academic interest in music, poetry and literature.

She believes her biggest achievements are in seeing her digital virtual world-based work in very different social and spatial spaces. For example, her video art was shown at events in Denver, Berlin and Montreal during 2019. In Denver, it was public art showing the theatre district on a street hoarding, as part of Supernova digital animation festival. In Berlin, it was a public event organised to bring science and art together. In Montreal, it was an academic conference held in the same venue as the major public and business gaming event.

Academically she is multidisciplinary, connecting her history with subjects, from a BA sociology (UCLan) to an MA gender, sexuality and culture (Manchester University), and then to her recent practice-based PhD in contemporary art (Lancaster University).

Tess was born near Wigan, and has lived most of her life in the Lake District near Ulverston. She spent 11 years in local politics in the 90s, before setting up a publishing business. This ran alongside her return to university to study sociology at UCLan in 2006.

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