Art Thinking Program

photo: Denise Hirtenfelder

This research domain and transdisciplinary methodology, understands Art is a catalyst for shaping a better future society, to open new perspectives, encourage curiosity to look at what is behind the scenes and to stimulate creative solutions. Art Thinking is a process of applying artistic thinking and an artful view to a broader range of challenges. The goal is to empower future citizens to take on the various societal and technological complexities facing us in today’s fast-paced and fluctuating environment, with the new attitude of Art Thinking.

Art Thinking Initiative (ATI) is a joint consulting program between Hakuhodo and Ars Electronica Futurelab to incorporate the method of Art Thinking into the management and R&D of companies, research institutions, and government organizations. Hakuhodo is a leading communication design and marketing solutions company in Japan with its core philosophy centered on People Thinking. Since 2014, Hakuhodo and Ars Electronica Futurelab have worked together to introduce the Art Thinking method in Japan.

As part of the Art Thinking Initiative, participating organizations and individuals learn how to create their own compass and imagine the future through artistic inspiration and creative questions. The program consists of three elements: the Art Thinking School, the Art Thinking Forum and a joint Ars Electronica Festival initiative – the Transformation Lounge.

Art Thinking School

The Art Thinking School comprises an extensive range of educational formats and tools for start-ups and established companies. The basis for the Art Thinking School is the Future Innovators Summit (FIS) – an intercultural workshop program that took place during the Ars Electronica Festival and in Tokyo between 2014 and 2019. This program brought together experienced experts as well as young entrepreneurs, social activists, technicians, researchers, artists and designers to exchange mutual inspiration, ideas and know-how on challenges of the 21st century through a joint dialogue.

Based on the Future Innovators Summit, further comprehensive formats were developed as part of the Art Thinking School, such as the People Thinking Lab in 2016, in which Ars Electronica Festival visitors were invited to first express their thoughts on the future by striking a pose to then print them as stickers using a Shadowgram and place them on a wall for a collaborative exchange. Another development from the origins of Art Thinking are Art Thinking cards which include curated topics by Ars Electronica experts, link these with different artistic impulses and refer to them through creative questions in different contexts. The Art Thinking cards are intended to give workshop participants a new perspective on their vision of the future by looking at it from the perspective of art and venturing out of their usual position.

Since the pandemic in 2020, the creative team of Hakuhodo and the Ars Electronica Futurelab has also developed new online formats to bring the community together. The Creative Question Challenge (CQC), for example, is a discussion format where speakers and audience explore creative questions and ideas in a 30-minute dialogue based on the Art Thinking concept. In 2021, the joint team designed a hybrid workshop format with comprehensive talks, inspiring festival tours and tools both online and on-site to help participants develop ideas, brainstorm concepts, and imagine the future to create a basis for the development of concrete projects. At the Art Thinking Tour during the Ars Electronica Festival 2021, a new online experience called GhostDive invited viewers to immerse themselves inside the live camera on the Ars Electronica experts’ helmets to experience the festival in a more interactive and dynamic way.

In 2023, the Art Thinking School was further expanded with a series of lectures by Ars Electronica employees on the topics of Art Thinking, Who Owns the Truth, Smart Citizen & Open Lab, Creative Intelligence, Humanity & Robotinity, and Symbiotic Creativity. The lectures can be accessed online via the Art Thinking School website. In addition, another brand transformation and vision framing workshop entitled “Re-Building the Future(s)” was developed by Hakuhodo and the Ars Electronica Futurelab, in which companies can rethink their current brand strategy visions of the future and redesign them in three-dimensional form as future rooms.

Art Thinking Forum

The second part of the Art Thinking Initiative is the Art Thinking Forum, which was launched in 2020 as a platform to discuss and exchange ideas on how art can be utilized for a better society. The forum discusses the role of art in the future through innovative examples of creative chemical reactions between different fields and art.

In 2023, the Art Thinking Forum was held for the first time as a collaboration with Nikkei, Japan’s leading business newspaper, as a cooperative event to creatively reshape future business and economic activities. The aim of this forum was to discuss the pioneering role of Art Thinking, which is necessary to prepare the next generation of leaders for 21st century challenges, as well as to create a community to share knowledge and work together to build a better society.

Transformation Lounge

A third program component of the Art Thinking Initiative between Hakuhodo and Ars Electronica has been offered during the Ars Electronica Festival since 2021: the Transformation Lounge. The primary goal of the Transformation Lounge is to create an easily accessible contact for festival visitors with Art Thinking. The Transformation Lounge is therefore a platform for accessing inspiration from exhibition works and new discussion formats between artists, as well as tangible Art Thinking tools developed by the Ars Electronica Futurelab, which are updated every year. The easy understandable and sustainable tool that was born in 2023 was the Future Compass, a coaster, that allows festival visitors to phrase the most important creative questions they encountered during the Ars Electronica Festival. In recent years, the Transformation Lounge has also been the starting point for the Art Thinking Tour, where companies have an annual opportunity to make their first contact with Art Thinking or to expand their future literacy through inspiration from the latest critical societal and media artworks.

With the Art Thinking Initiative, Hakuhodo and the Ars Electronica Futurelab are continuously building a creative ecosystem of Art Thinking. Talks, lectures, and events are held in Japan and in Linz to co-create the future as a global society.


Alchemists involved in this project