16 March 2016

Artistic Thinking

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.


Alexander Hayes said...

Interesting that the (Marvin) Minski name pops up....where MIT played it's part in the AI of the now and where the Singularity (I capitalised that with disdain) mob are pushing the quantified self agenda. Driverless cars? Pffft. What of self directed drones annihilating innocents while we sit back and glide around in our Spotify infested self service? The arts and the creatives inside have always been great mirrors for humanity. Thats what ARs are there for. What of instinct? Where has it gone to in the discussion agenda? I'm all for a creative and sustainable agenda that builds upon an ethical imperative (not a moral servitude) but not at the expense of capitalist pig development which would see us in a prosumer led science fiction formed cyborg dystopia. Hasn't anyone learned that the intelligentsia are the only ones with 'privacy' as hotel wide alert functions in their schwanky hotel rooms? How much collectively did it cost to bring this mob altogether? How many gallons of avgas? How many tonnes of raw materials mined form the very communities they seek to represent?

Leigh Blackall said...

Thanks for this addition Alex. To some, probably a cryptic twist of words alluding to significance (which it does). I'm sure the people mentioned here are cognisant of most of the things you call out, but have so far chosen to suspend judgement and decision, doing what most of us do, survive in all this, maybe even thrive. When will your thesis be published? End of the year?

Alexander Hayes said...

When the Human Research Ethics Council approves it to be so :) Yes...sameness is the suspension of judgement lest we be seen to be biting that hand we rely on to feed. I'm sure everyone assembled were all looking as to how whats beyond the wearable, the ambient, the IOT and how it will affect roles, regulations and rule making. Fortunately we (you and I) have the power of hindsight, a few examples of data genocide to draw upon, an array of convenience versus conviviality pathways that assure others we are thinking and seeing not just speaking and looking.

Mark Smithers said...
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