First the Question, then the Answer

Kazuhiko Washio

Photo: Tom Mesic

Whoever seeks the next idea and answers for the future should first think long and hard about the questions to which they’re meant to respond! Kazuhiko Washio, creative director and producer at the Hakuhodo ad agency in Japan, is totally convinced of this. In 2014, he first served on the Prix Ars Electronica jury charged with awarding [the next idea] voestalpine Art and Technology Grant to an artist for a not-yet-implemented concept that that could tangibly benefit society in the near future. Once again this year, he’ll be a member of the group of jurors who are not only on the lookout for potential solutions but also seeking the questions of key relevance to our future.

Questions about the Cities of the 21st Century

Jointly formulated questions were also the result of the Future Innovators Summit held during the 2014 Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, a gathering of 27 people from diverse regions of the world, each bringing his/her own experience and background to bear in small groups that gave intense consideration to the festival theme “C… what it takes to change.” Their approach was rather to pose questions than to seek answers.

FIS 2014

Photo: Tom Mesic

On March 22, 2015 in Tokyo, an interesting lineup of citizens, artists and scientists will once again be assembling at CREATIVE QUESTIONS to design your CITY to form small groups in which to seek creative, inspiring questions about our future—urban—coexistence. After all, one thing is clear: More and more human beings are moving to cities and we’re living closer and closer together. At present, in fact, 54% of the planet’s population lives in cities.

This forum in Tokyo is just one of the upcoming discussion platforms that Hakuhodo and Ars Electronica are organizing. Another is the next Future Innovators Summit at this year’s Ars Electronica Festival September 3-7, 2015 in Linz at which the theme will be “POST CITY – Habitats for the 21st Century.”

During a brief talk with Kazuhiko Washio, he spoke about how important it is for businessmen as well as artists to intensively focus on the formulation of a question.

As a creative director and producer at Hakuhodo you are in contact with many companies. What ideas are they looking for in the year 2015?

Kazuhiko Washio: Everyone knows that companies of course seek out ideas that will have positive financial effects. However, there are also companies that consciously try to be in center of the vortex that rewrites the rules and structure of “business” as we know it. This type of company wants ideas that present a new story for their assets or technology.

You could also say there are more companies looking for new “creative questions” that will change existing mindsets.

The companies that have partnered with Future Catalysts, a collaborative project between Hakuhodo and Ars Electronica, are all people with these kinds of goals.

Kazuhiko Washio

Photo: Florian Voggeneder

How would you define a “next idea”?

Kazuhiko Washio: A “next idea” is one that can be expected to possibly change the nature of an existing rule of society when it’s realized. These ideas have a vector towards the future.

Which advice would you give to artists who want to discover the real problems of our world or are looking for a next idea?

Kazuhiko Washio: I think it’s definitely important to come up with the creative questions that produce the actual ideas. Also, coming up with a system or method for finding these creative questions. This is something I have to work on as well.

Photography is your passion. What inspires you?

Kazuhiko Washio: The ability to learn something from the things I can see and can’t see. Taking photos allows me to understand things. It helps me consider the nature of various relationships like people and technology, people and nature, or people and other people.

Kazuhiko Washio

Kazuhiko Washio is a Creative Director/ Producer at Hakuhodo Inc a major advertising agency in Japan, and also is a Chief Research Director at the Institute of Media Environment of Hakuhodo DY Media Partners Inc. Currently, he is working for the creative platform in collaboration with Ars Electronica, “Future Catalysts”, and aims to “invent new life experience from a future viewpoint” and support social innovation in Japan and Asian region. He is the author of publications “Branding for Empathy” and also a photographic artist with a number of photography books and publications.

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