Artist Rebecca Smith in the VIP studio

Celebrating International Women’s Day with groundbreaking digital art showcasing women in technology

Wednesday, 06 March 2024

Creative industry experts from the University of Nottingham and King’s College London have come together for International Women’s Day to showcase a unique and groundbreaking digital art exhibition.

GLOW: Illuminating Innovation, which opens on 8 March 2024, is a collaborative exhibition which celebrates women’s contribution to innovations in creative and immersive technology. It will be on display in multiple locations across King’s Strand campus until 20 April 2024, and is free to enter.

From Ada Lovelace, known as the first computer programmer, and Hedy Lamarr, the ‘Mother of Wi-Fi’, to Katherine Johnson, the mathematician who did the calculations for the first Moon landing in 1969, and ‘Mother of the Internet’ Radia Perlman, women have changed the world of technology with their inventions and discoveries. But how much do we know about women in digital art? Women artists have been at the forefront of the first Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) explorations. They have been leading the development of computer and 3D animation, they have redefined the scene of video art – and GLOW: Illuminating Innovation, which has been curated by Professor Sarah Atkinson of King’s College London, shines a light on their important contributions.

Brand-new artworks will sit alongside historical works spanning five decades, all focusing on digital creativity by women. The new commissions, which include AR experiences, 3D animations and sculptures, and a major immersive installation, are the culmination of a six-month artist programme. The GLOW artists were given access to facilities and expertise at the University of Nottingham’s Virtual Immersive Production Studio (VIP), the Epic Games Innovation Lab in London and King’s Digital Lab at King’s College London.

The GLOW exhibition offers up a paradigm shift in how we understand and appreciate women’s contribution to innovation in creative technology. Showcasing 10 illuminaries such as Nonny de la Pena, Tamiko Thiel and Rebecca Allen, this exhibition offers a first of its kind comprehensive retrospective of women’s contribution to the advancement of creativity. The new commissions bring us fully up to date with their use of cutting-edge immersive technologies to create experiences and environments that address questions of identity and sustainability. It has been a pleasure to support these emerging artists as part of the GLOW3 artists’ programme.”
Helen Kennedy, Professor of Creative and Cultural Industries at Nottingham, and Director of the VIP

The GLOW Initiative, part of Professor Sarah Atkinson’s Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded fellowship, aims to chronicle the impact and contribution of women developing groundbreaking technologies through artistic creativity and experimentation. It highlights the pivotal role women have played in propelling technological advancements into mainstream use and serves as a powerful testament to the previously untold stories of women trailblazing innovation.

Local Nottingham artist Rebecca Smith is one of the accomplished artists commissioned whose volumetric lighting and immersive audio installation ‘Second Nature’ can be experienced in St Mary le Strand Church from 11-13 March.

Practicing under the name Urban Projections, Rebecca has been drawing lines between the natural world, art and technology for over 20 years. The artist’s practice centres around the natural environment and our place within it, aiming to reaffirm our connection to nature and each other. Often through the creation of large-scale immersive experiences, Rebecca has developed innovative methods for taking digital arts out onto the streets.

Rebecca Smith in the VIP studio - portrait
The GLOW programme has provided an invaluable platform for skill development across diverse technologies, opening doors that were previously inaccessible. Collaborating with the VIP studio has facilitated the expansion of my technological proficiency, promising numerous prospects within the creative industry. Involvement in this project is not only an honour but also a responsibility to aptly showcase the remarkable talents of female artists from the North, harnessing technology in pioneering and innovative ways."
Rebecca Smith, GLOW Artist

Professor Kennedy will also be facilitating a series of events as part of the wider GLOW programme including two ‘in conversation’ sessions – Tech Trailblazers: Advancing Virtual and Immersive Technologies on 19 March, and Critical Curatorial Practices in the Immersive Arts on 26 March.

She added: “We are particularly pleased that the collaboration with King’s also provides the opportunity to showcase the four women-led VIP studio researchers in residence who are exploring the ways in which immersive technologies and AI can be exploited to develop more inclusive and sustainable practices.”

The University of Nottingham event Inclusive + Sustainable Futures: Spotlight on Virtual & Immersive Production, chaired by Professor Kennedy, will present the work in progress outcomes of the four residencies taking place at the VIP, and will explore the capabilities of the popular and powerful technologies sharing immersive production.

Taking place on 3 April, the interactive session will provide participants with an exclusive insight into these novel projects and practices and, through feedback, will have the opportunity to influence the future direction of these works. Read more about the featured artists and their work here.

GLOW: Illuminating Innovation will open at King’s College London on 8 March 2024 and run until 20 April 2024 and will be on display in multiple locations across the Strand Cultural Quarter (Strand Campus). Entry to the exhibition and all experiences is free, but it is advised to book interactive and immersive experiences in advance here.

Story credits

More information is available from Helen Kennedy, Professor of Creative and Cultural Industries at Nottingham, and Director of the VIP, via

Liz Goodwin 2
Liz Goodwin - Media Relations Manager - Faculty of Arts
Phone: 0115 748 5133

Notes to editors:

About the University of Nottingham

Ranked 32 in Europe and 16th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings: Europe 2024, the University of Nottingham is a founding member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience, and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement.

Nottingham was crowned Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024 – the third time it has been given the honour since 2018 – and by the Daily Mail University Guide 2024.

The university is among the best universities in the UK for the strength of our research, positioned seventh for research power in the UK according to REF 2021. The birthplace of discoveries such as MRI and ibuprofen, our innovations transform lives and tackle global problems such as sustainable food supplies, ending modern slavery, developing greener transport, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

The university is a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally - and our graduates are the second most targeted by the UK's top employers, according to The Graduate Market in 2022 report by High Fliers Research.

We lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, a pioneering collaboration between the city’s two world-class institutions to improve levels of prosperity, opportunity, sustainability, health and wellbeing for residents in the city and region we are proud to call home.

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