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The VICE Guide to Semi Permanent 2017

Pick the brains of the best minds from Google, Nike, Tesla, and your friends at VICE. We're giving away tickets, too!

We do okay in Australia. This giant island may be a long and very expensive plane flight away from London, New York, or Los Angeles, but it's still home to an incredible creative and entrepreneurial community who produce mind-blowing work. Although, having said that, it's sometimes nice when people from those other, bigger places come to visit and share their ideas.

That's what Semi Permanent is all about. Headlined by VICE Impact's own Katherine Keating, this year's festival is shipping in a bunch of the best from 12 cities and six countries. They'll be joined by a handpicked list of locals who are killing it in their respective fields.


To help you navigate the festival, which kicks off on May 25 at Carriageworks in Sydney, here's our list of must-sees.

Katherine Keating

First things first—one of VICE's best is returning home to Sydney for Semi Permanent, and you'll want to meet her. Keating is the publisher of VICE Impact—our new home for pressing social, economic and political issues from around the world.

A former Canberra political advisor who is now based in New York City, Keating is passionate about approaching issues like climate change, LGBTQI rights, criminal justice reform, and race relations in smart and dynamic ways that actually have an, um, impact. And she's coming to Semi Permanent to talk about it.

Oh and yes, she is the daughter of your favourite former PM.

Tarik Abdel-Gawad

VR is the future—ask anyone, but especially the people who know. Like Bill Gates, or Mark Zuckerberg, or Tarik Abdel-Gawad, who is the brains behind Google Daydream. Daydream is Google's VR headset, and Abdel-Gawad heads up its creative research and development team. He's also an award-winning filmmaker, roboticist, and true inter-disciplinarian. He is probably the guy shaping the entertainment we'll be consuming, and the way we consume it, over the next decade. Hot tip: if you can't get enough Google, also speaking at Semi Permanent 2017 is Fiona Herse Woo, another member of the Google Daydream team with expertise in virtual and augmented reality, as well as film and animation.

Oliver Stone

American politics is going through some shit, to say the least. So it must be a particularly fascinating time to be Oliver Stone, an acclaimed Hollywood director who has spent much of his life focusing on the American presidency. And he's very good at it—see JFK, Nixon, W., Snowden.

You can bet the subject of Trump is going to take precedence during his panel discussion, but hopefully he also gets to touch on his past work on iconoclastic films like Platoon. The dude's a living legend of cinema.


Jay Manley

Jay Manley has had an interest in mechatronics since entering the World Solar Car challenge as an undergraduate engineering student in Sydney. Now he lives and works in Silicon Valley as Senior Technical Program Manager at Tesla. How did that happen? Through talent, hard work, a bit of networking, and some very good luck. You can find out more about making it as an Australian techhead at Elon Musk's electric car company at Semi Permanent, where Jay will be speaking on a panel about the future of work.

Paul Stafford

When you think of Deliveroo, or Airbnb, or Logitech, chances are their logos pop straight into your head. All three companies are so impeccably branded that their design speaks for itself. Which is why Semi Permanent invited DesignStudio's Paul Stafford, responsible for the rebrands of all those companies, to speak at this year's event. How does one go about changing the face of one of the world's most ubiquitous brands? Stafford's the guy to explain. What have kangaroos got to do with online food ordering? He's probably the guy to explain that, too.

Kevin Coatman

Whether or not you rock the swoosh, you've got to respect Nike for being the sportswear monolith that it is. The brand's Design Creative Director Kevin Coatman would argue that Nike's secret to success is constantly moving forward—and being unafraid to change its direction, face, and messaging to suit the market. Co-presenting a panel called Designing Global Empathy, he and fellow Nike designer Meirion Pritchard will explain the mentality behind the brand's most recent campaigns. There's more to the company than just doing it, apparently.

Lucky for you we're giving away tickets to day one of Semi Permanent featuring VICE Impact's Katherine Keating taking place at Carriageworks at 9am, Thursday May 25. You can enter here. Check out the entire Semi Permanent program happening May 25 - 27 and buy tickets here.