The idea of a festival: How The Light Gets In

New methods and spaces are required to grapple with the strange new questions of tomorrow's technology.

Matthew Linares
27 May 2016
The festival. Credit: From How the Light Gets In 2016. All rights reserved

The festival. Credit: From How the Light Gets In 2016. All rights reservedOur culture suffers from a lack of means to adequately reflect on the fast coming future. This is nothing new, and it is at least as hard to take stock of the present. Yet, it is boldly argued, that which we call “the future” seems bigger, faster and more encompassing than ever before. I won’t defend claims about accelerating technology here. But I certainly appreciate spaces that help people catch up with the socio-technical shifts that envelop us.

From urban Hackspaces and utopian Live Action Role Play to country-side retreats for communal reflection, we need more situations that bring us to see ideas anew, in novel settings, whilst intoxicated or otherwise removed from routine. As the topography of technical reality becomes more byzantine, our forms of enquiry should multiply in style and medium, to assist in tackling questions which defy old paradigms and standard notations. Every vantage point enriches our studies.

Systems mapping to chart non-traditional philosophical enquiry?

How The Light Gets In is a 10-day affair in the dreamy mountain scapes of Wales, melding debate, music and other night moods, so that the guests may digest ideas differently. This year’s theme delves into ‘The Known, The Strange and The New’. Talks are abundant, streaming broadly through consciousness, augmented reality, a borderless world and other pastures.

Mind philosopher, David Chalmers, gives his latest on how digital landscapes shape the conscious experience in Reconstructing Reality (Saturday 29th May). Famed for describing the hard problem of identifying the mind, here he will argue “that virtual worlds are real and that virtual reality is not a second-class reality”. Can he locate reality and perhaps fragments of consciousness within blossoming digital terrains?

The polluted consciousness of our gaudy future, in Hyper-Reality, a video dream by Keiichi Matsuda and Skillbard (not showing at the festival).

If Chalmers can’t make the connection, perhaps festival-goers, elevated by music and the quaint pleasures of Hay on Wye, will venture into nights of informed revelry. His remarks are there to stoke the festival fires.

My own contribution will involve blindfolding festival strangers before verbally guiding them to click and swipe through their digital life in the mind’s eye whatever that may reveal. Come and inspect the internet's paraphernalia exclusively from the ageing boundaries of memory. 


Green field festivals are a potent stimulant for thought, all the more when riddled with ideas. How The Light Gets In (May 26th to June 5th) brings together hundreds of talks, sounds and experiences for an idyllic playground of discovery. Long may it, and its ilk, continue.

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