The Edinburgh Festival Fringe pushes the boundaries of theatre, comedy, literature, and music relentlessly year after year.
Now, at 70, there’s no better place to see, hear, and feel some of science and technology’s latest boundary-smashers as academia and the arts collide.
We’ve compiled a list of some best technology events, shows, and exhibitions at this year’s Fringe, from jacking in to the freshest VR mind-benders, to theatre shows debating sexism in the tech industry.
1. Agony Auncles
What’s an auncle? I didn’t know, so I Googled it. Some things are best left un-Googled though, like the meaning of life. It’s much better to ask experts about that stuff, experts like the Agony Auncles.
As part of PBH’s Free Fringe, a panel of physicists, engineers, and biologists are setting up in Bar Bados every night from August 5–28 to answer your burning science questions, submitted either online or by a live audience. They promise to answer everything, no matter how inapplicable it may be. Submit your scientific problems here.
2. FuturePlay Virtual Reality Studio
As virtual reality rapidly becomes an accessible opiate of the masses, experience some of the technology’s most cutting-edge single player and cooperative advancements at Assembly’s FuturePlay Virtual Reality Studio.
From the August 3–26, visitors can immerse themselves in virtual worlds of the surreal and the sublime, including documentaries, animation, and multiplayer games. Experiences include Lost, a short film that takes viewers on a journey with a robotic hand in search of its own body, the post-apocalyptic world of Utopia 6, and a chaotic cooperative game called Cursebreakers where players are trapped in a series of fiendish puzzle rooms.
3. Sci-fi bonanza at the book festival
The Edinburgh International Book Festival runs alongside the Fringe from August 12–28. While so many fabulous authors are making an appearance, we wholeheartedly recommend popping along to science fiction stalwart Ken MacLeod’s chats with peers from the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres such as Ada Palmer, Stephen Baxter, Charles Stross and Jo Walton, where our future Earth will be at the centre of the debate.
4. The Sweet Science
Ever wonder if you’d be a different person if you’d lived in a different time? Tramp’s play about boxing, bullying, sexism, and tech startups lets the public – and quantum physics – decide the outcome.
The world premiere of theatre group Tramp’s genre-busting, time-bending The Sweet Science holds a magnifying glass up to sexism in the startup industry in a show described as a collision of Million Dollar Baby and The Social Network. Tickets are available here, with the show running across August 5-28.
5. FuturePlay Tech Zone
Another future-oriented offering from Assembly’s FuturePlay, the Tech Zone is billed as an interactive playground where art meets tech. It’s ages 6+, so definitely suitable for the kids, and gadgets to play with include cooperative musical instrument Dato DUO, physically printed artworks with embedded interactivity and games, and a prosthetic reality augmented reality art book. Ready player one!
6. Mark Thompson’s Spectacular Science Show
Another hit for the kids, TV astronomer and author Mark Thompson is back at the Fringe this year, exploring the matter that makes up the Universe with exploding toothpaste, roaring jelly babies, and flying toilet paper.
Thompson’s Spectacular Science Show, suitable for ages 5-13, is on from 6pm at the Gilded Balloon at the Museum between August 3-13 and August 15-27.
7. Pitch-Black Theatre
Darkfield, the brainchild of theatre-makers Glen Neath and David Rosenberg, produces pitch-black theatre. Yes, that means you —the audience— can’t see a thing. How does that work?
Each audience member wears a pair of headphones for Darkfield’s premiere of Séance, a 20-minute paranormal presentation in complete darkness. “You hear a footstep and think, ‘Is everyone sitting down in their chairs? Have people got up?'” Rosenberg told Wired.