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28th November 2011

Manchester’s MadLab is alive and cooking

The lab where science and art are fused: bonkers, but brilliant.

When I heard that the Greenroom had closed its doors earlier this year due to budget cuts, I feared for the future of alternative art spaces in Manchester and their likely descent into similarly fund-less oblivion. Discovering MadLab, however, has filled me with a renewed sense of optimism.

Situated at the heart of the Northern Quarter, MadLab is the cherished home of ‘geeks, artists, designers, illustrators, hackers, innovators and idle dreamers’; a community space for creative types of any discipline to ‘do and make interesting stuff.’ It’s deceptively large too, the impressive 1000 square feet space houses the wide creative umbrella. A not-for-profit, for-the-love-of-it kind of place founded on sincere DIY vim – what’s not to love?

Aside from the wide-open, no-judgment embrace, MadLab go far beyond simply exhibiting the ‘stuff’ that’s been created. They actively encourage engaging with the ‘stuff’, with an array of unusual, mainstream-ducking activities for your average art-goer. It ain’t called ‘MadLab’ for nothing.

I was lucky enough to participate in once such encouraging session at the one year anniversary of Kinokophonography, a sound-art night for enthusiasts and the plain curious to share field recordings or simply eavesdrop. It’s fair to say that MadLab are partial to anything with a good dash of ‘geek’, but this wonderful night was hardly inaccessible, even for someone with my level of ignorance.

What’s more, it attracted a surprisingly diverse crowd. A night of shared sound clips sent from all corners of the world, from the noise of a tree root creaking in the wind to early morning singing in the streets of Mumbai. Someone had even taken the trouble to record the disturbing cacophony that was their root canal surgery.

So – a bit bonkers, yes, but equally brilliant. I personally recommend that you visit the website to check out the events list. Affiliated with multiple festivals, regularly hosting exhibitions and installations, loving home to more than 40 groups and with over 20 courses to choose from- well, you’d be mad not to.
Manchester Digital Laboratory, 36-41 Edge Street

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