Art
Thinking

Future Catalysts become Alchemists of the Future

Lifting practice to a meta level of reflection

The ability to raise questions even in a new field, to take apart stereotypes in a questioning process and thus to identify future potentials


Inside Futurelab: 25th Anniversary Series – Episode 7 – Art Thinking

Shaping the Future 

Transforming a Practice into Ways of Reflection   


The practice of many years of work of the Ars Electronica Futurelab provided the soil of which the plants of Art Thinking could grow. Of course, Art Thinking is about the future. The entire work of the Ars Electronica Futurelab deals with the future in different ways, but it is neither futurology, nor prognostics, nor scenario building. It is rather about working on future narratives, inducing understanding of technology, and influencing our actions in the present day, which in turn, of course, shape the future.

The path for the Ars Electronica Futurelab to finally arrive at Art Thinking included several steps and integrated a number of influencing factors. There is a golden thread running through the feedback from many clients of the Ars Electronica Futurelab, an emphasis on the special quality of the open-minded dialogue with the Futurelab and the inspiring and innovative effects of its approach, which is experienced as unconventional and highly creative. These aspects already indicate why Art Thinking is not a method in the strict sense, but rather a mindset, from which the perceived qualities of the Ars Electronica Futurelab result.

It is the people who drive and shape Art Thinking in the practice of the Ars Electronica Futurelab.

The team members are given the freedom to follow their own research agendas; several of them also continue with their personal work as artists outside the Futurelab. Here artists and scientist can meet on a platform where crossing disciplines is a daily practice. Many members of the Futurelab see it as their home base, but work freely in exchange with different divisions of Ars Electronica. The terms “ecosystem” receives its justification from the intense and multidirectional exchange between the various parts of Ars Electronica. Those open membranes work not only within Ars Electronica, but also towards the outside, in exchange with partners and clients, but especially also with artists coming to the Ars Electronica Futurelab in the framework of one of the—meanwhile numerous—artist-in-residence programs. The artist-in-residence programs as well as an internal Ideas Expedition within the Futurelab Team constantly creates a flow of ideas that enables its members to raise questions even in a new field, to take apart stereotypes in a questioning process and thus to identify future potentials. Additionally, it was the necessity to explain Ars Electronica to partners in Japan that provided the ultimate catalysis needed to transform the practice of the Ars Electronica Futurelab into Art Thinking.

The development of a mindset

2010

Shadowgram

A tool for combining the aesthetic entertainment of creating a physical object, a sticker cut out in the shape of your shadow with the intention of participating in social brainstorming. A person stands behind an illuminated screen and is photographed, the result is a shadow image. The shadow image is printed and cut out on an adhesive label. This sticker can be placed on a prepared wall, that displays certain scenarios and completed with a speech bubble for individual comments.

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2017

Ars Electronica Japan

Ars Electronica Japan is a special division within the Ars Electronica Futurelab, which puts cultural programs, consulting and innovative research into practice for Japan. It forms a creative ecosystem for shaping future society together with citizens, Japanese creators, educational public institutes and industries.

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2019

School of the Future Festival 2019: GiriGiri

With School of the Future, the Ars Electronica Futurelab has been bringing discussions about technology, society and art into the heart of Tokyo since 2017. In a series of exhibitions and discussion rounds within the Tokyo Midtown urban complex, visitors are invited to explore the impact technologies have on society – and vice versa.

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2020

Art Thinking Program

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.

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more projects

timeline

“New ways of thinking are essential for disruptive innovation in a world of growing complexity. Bringing people from very different backgrounds together in a setting that is free of destructive hierarchies and narrow specialization is a key for the success of the ArsElectronica Futurelab.”

Meinhard Lukas
Rector of the Johannes Kepler University Linz (JKU)

Born in 1970 in Wels, Austria. Professor of civil law at the Johannes Kepler University Linz (JKU). Rector of the JKU since 2015. Opened the campus of the JKU for the Ars Electronica Festival “Kepler's Gardens” in 2020.

Meinhard Lukas

Credit: vog.photo

Victoria Vesna

Credit: Florian Voggeneder

“We are looking towards those who break the limits, who overcome those artificial segregations between art and science. Coming back to that point, where things were not separated, is in fact a matter of survival.”

Victoria Vesna

Born in 1959 in Washington D. C., US. Digital media artist. Professor at the UCLA Department of Design | Media Arts and director of the Art|Sci center at UCLA. Visiting professor at the Interface Culture Department of the University of Art and Design Linz.

“Getting in touch with the Ars Electronica Futurelab, I noticed the playfulness of their way of doing research. There was the self-confidence to be creative in the interplay of art and science, which in fact is the basic principle of all research.”

Rolf-Dieter Heuer

Born in 1948 in Bad Boll, Germany. Physicist. Director General of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) from 2009 until 2015. President of the German Physical Society from 2016 until 2018. Chair of the European Commission's Group of Chief Scientific Advisors from 2015 until 2020.

Rolf-Dieter Heuer

Credit: rubra

Martin Honzik

Credit: Florian Voggeneder

“Our complex future is steeped in technology, which is shaping our societies. Art Thinking, which manifested itself in the work of the Ars Electronica Futurelab, is a way of considering complexity and of becoming able to communicate about it.”

Martin Honzik
Director of Festival, Prix, and Exhibitions divisions of Ars Electronica

Born in 1970 in Aigen-Schlägl, Austria. Artist. Studies in visual experimental design at the University of Art and Design Linz as well as in culture and media management. Member of the Ars Electronica Futurelab from 2001 until 2005. Director of Festival, Prix, and Exhibitions divisions of Ars Electronica since 2006.

“Art is a catalyst for shaping a better future society, a way to open up new perspectives, encourage curiosity to look at what is behind the scenes and to stimulate creative solutions. ... As a research domain, but also as an attitude, Art Thinking has the potential to catalyze innovation, new modes of education and strategy. We believe that art and artistic thinking is the best way to understand even the most complex issues and systems created by humankind—be they societal, economic, political, or technological.”

Hideaki Ogawa
Co-director of Ars Electronica Futurelab

Born in 1977 in Tokyo, Japan. Creative catalyst, artist, educator, curator, and researcher in the field of art, technology, and society. Artistic director of the media artist group h.o. Member of Ars Electronica Futurelab since 2007. Founding director of Ars Electronica Japan since 2016. Co-director of Ars Electronica Futurelab since 2019.

Hideaki Ogawa

Credits: Vanessa Graf

Kyoko Kunoh

Credit: Tsukuru Ozaki / Ars Electronica Tokyo Initiative

“Digital technology now is stepping into creating resonance from connecting between people and technology. ... [We strive to] open a new field of aesthetic awareness about digital technology and promote the future of digital technology that empowers people.”

Kyoko Kunoh
Key Researcher Ars Electronica Futurelab

Born in 1972 in Tokyo, Japan. Artist and key researcher. Member of the Ars Electronica Futurelab since 2017. Has worked as an artist in a wide range of fields such as presenting interactive art works, directing in the public and commercial space, design of exhibit products, and joint projects with companies and universities.

“Art acts as an agent of change; on the one hand it offers a fine sensorium for relevant social developments and technological applications beyond superficial trends, on the other hand art is a communicator for perspective shifts and inspiration.”

Maria Pfeifer
Key Researcher Ars Electronica Futurelab

Born in 1982 in Linz, Upper Austria. Member of the Ars Electronica Futurelab since 2016. Key researcher for Future Narratives, where she investigates the question of how stories about the future can change the here and now. Studied art, comparative literature, and cultural studies in Vienna and has worked for the Ars Electronica Festival and Futurelab on and off since 2011.

Maria Pfeifer

Credit: Schwarz-Koenig/PFI

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