There is a wave of disruption hitting science and technology thanks to the cumulative impact of open knowledge, collaborative creativity and newly available tools for capturing, processing and making sense of data.
One interesting thing about this moment is that art and design are centre stage. The boundaries between disciplines are increasingly fluid, and the creative industries are acting as a playground for new knowledge practices. There we see intense experimentation in emerging tools and technologies, and artists pushing at boundaries in citizen science and open knowledge.
Among FutureEverything’s collaborators and friends we have seen the emergence of a new informal knowledge economy. Outstanding science, art and business innovation is no longer confined to the leading academic institutions and industry labs. New knowledge and new practices that are just as original and significant today are coming out of the global networks of nomadic freelancers and creative studios in data design, media art, maker culture and social innovation.
These new informal knowledge practices have their own networked spaces for peer feedback and review. This can be through blogs or even festivals. Boundary spanning art-science collaboration can reframe and unlock problems, and is most interesting when genuinely reciprocal, contributing to original and significant knowledge for science, industry and art.
I was therefore very happy to be invited to speak at a European Commission event at the Sónar festival on the work of FutureEverything and the University of Dundee alongside a roll call of great people from some very influential organisations looking at the future of art, science and technology.
The Sónar festival may seem an unlikely place to find a European Commission event. Outside, 20,000 people soaked up the sun and sounds at the Fira de Barcelona live stages. We were inside the cavernous hall housing demos, talks and workshops for the Sónar+D programme, the intellectual heart of the festival, curated by FutureEverything’s own José Luis de Vicente.
Ralph Dum from the European Commission gave the opening talk to introduce the EC’s new STARTS programme (S&T&ARTS – Science & Technology & Arts). This welcome addition to the EC portfolio is based on the insight that increasing numbers of high tech companies and research institutions have woken up to the value of creativity and the capacity to involve all of society in the process of innovation. STARTS is well placed to galvanise more boundary spanning art, science technology collaborations, and help to generate real scientific, social, artistic and business impact.
He was followed by some inspiring case studies by Hideaki Ogawa from Ars Electronica, Maria Boto from Waag Society, Ignasi López from Fundació La Caixa and Erich Prem alongside Enric Hidalgo and Josep Perelló who will be familiar to all from the last edition of FutureEverything.
I seem to be in a habit of ridiculous travel arrangements. This time I was booked and in the air with a few hours notice. I went on condition I could get a good internet connection for a weekly project call. I ended up taking the call in the back of a taxi in Barcelona from the airport. I was on my way back home again 5 hours later, my green credentials trashed.
On the way out I bumped into some old friends who run Sónar. Twenty years ago I was a regular. I promised to be back next year for more than one workshop.
Image: Playground for new knowledge practices at FutureEverything in 2008