16 March 2016
A few months ago I attended a new media arts forum at RMIT. This triggered ideas in me to explore art thinking as a framework for educational development. Last week I flew up to Brisbane to meet the Ars Electronic people who are partnering with Queensland University of Technology on a range of projects.
I met Gerfried Stocker the Artistic Director to Ars Electronica. He was in Brisbane to give a presentation to Queensland University of Technology executives about artistic perspectives and approaches in science and innovation.
Gerfried makes the case that artists can help ensure more humanistic determinants on technology, to help counter technological determinism and its unintended consequences. Gerfried was in Brisbane to support their Future Lab's exhibition Shared Space Bots at the World Science Festival, as well as the growing relations Ars Electronica is forming with QUT.
The Shared Space Bots exhibition was a performative presentation delivered by the Future Lab's Director of Research and Engineering, Christopher Lindinger, who's team has been working with Mercedes Benz and their Driverless Car Project.
Mercedes Benz commissioned AE's Future Lab to explore different cultural responses to the ideas and questions of the Driverless Car project. Specifically, 'how are humans going to communicate with the self driving car of tomorrow?'
At the exhibition opening was Lubi Thomas, a digital and new media arts curator who has been working with AEs Peter Holzkorn and QUT's Jared Donovan from the Creative Industries Faculty to develop educational programs about artistic approaches to innovation. Our conversations centered around art thinking, and I'm looking forward to recording these conversations, as I did recently with Kris Minski - also working at the Future Lab.
The conversation turned to how expensive it was to facilitate physical educational arrangements between Australia and Europe. We discussed whether more emphasis on the online interaction would be viable. Initially, the discussion agreed that face to face interaction was critical for the beginning and end of the program, but we challenged that presumption a little longer. We considered how many people we each knew who had met and married someone that they had met and got to know online. With that in mind, could we conceive of such online connectivity in an educational arrangement? And if it was a stretch, why was it.
As an aside, I met a fascinating fella named Nathan Hayes earlier in the day, who threw out a verbal manifesto at the Shared Space Bots performance earlier that afternoon. Nathan had this remarkably optimistic outlook for the future, but not a futurist I had experienced before. His main website is http://alphainfinityfoundation.com/ its stimulating reading. I rate his work as a type of artistic imagining, and it would be very interesting to apply his conversational priorities into a technological project. On Nathan's site he embedded this Shots of Awe video: Hacking the Flow State. Its a video talking about that mental zone we sometimes feel ourselves in, where barriers dissolve and synchronicity seems to take hold in an effortless flow of action... art thinking.
Back to the dinner conversation and the challenges around online learning, we discussed each of our experiences in networked learning, observing that our most notable experiences were informal and not within a university experience. We decided that we have not yet seen a good example of online educational experiences from the university sector. Furthermore, we discussed the apparent blindspot universities generally have toward significant knowledge creation projects like Wikipedia, and other similar work that follows over arching principles of open source governance, research and development. I mentioned my open research project, Defining Networked Learning
The discussion seemed to be of interest to the group, and I like to think it was an example of art thinking on a micro scale. Counter ideas, alternative perspectives, being pushed into a conversation space to see what might emerge. It risks offending people, particularly in cross cultural discourse, so such efforts probably need to be overt, if maintaining collaborative relations is important.
I've started compiling a video playlist for Art Thinking, and for now, will attach the longer discussions I record with people to that playlist.