A few weeks ago, we announced our co-sponsorship of a fellowship with ZERO1, an organization that aims to inform strategies for research, development, and creativity via provoking challenges that address the complex world in which we live. ZERO1 recently launched their Garage, envisioned as a platform for creative minds from the arts and culture, business, science and academic sectors to interact, engage, and empower change.
There’s a natural synergy here: the Internet and new digital technologies and platforms are creating extremely fertile ground for artists to create, share, finance and promote their work. Kickstarter alone boasts 30,000 successfully funded projects, the vast majority coming from artistic, content-creating categories: music, film & video, design, art, theatre, and writing & publishing. ZERO1’s massive network from a huge range of fields could have a powerful impact on public policy issues affecting art, technology and culture.
We asked Joel Slayton, ZERO1 Executive Director, a few questions about how and why ZERO1 works and what they hope to accomplish.
Q. What do you hope to achieve through the launch of the ZERO1 Garage? What kind of change to you hope to inspire through the launch of the Garage and through supporting artists?
A. Facing the challenges of the 21st century requires new forms of creativity and innovation from climate change to human rights to sustainability. The mission of the ZERO1 Garage is to apply the principles of artistic creativity to these real world challenges. We believe that art, at the frontier of technology, broadens our critical understanding of the world by provoking new ideas, experimentation, and creative strategies. Artists inspire the possibilities that shape contemporary culture, sustain what matters most, and open and motivate society to better itself. The ZERO1 Garage is envisioned as a platform for risk-takers from the arts and culture, business, science and academic sectors to interact, engage, and spur innovative change: part incubator, part research lab, part exhibitions center.
Q. Art and technology live in increasingly overlapping spheres, with heavy influences on each other and dramatic shifts in the content communicated through each. How as the internet specifically changed the way that people create and consume art?
A. We believe that artists—artists/engineers, artists-scientist, artists-designers, artists/technologist—are the new provocateurs, and an untapped source of social innovation. Clearly, things get interesting where disciplines rub up against each other. ZERO1 is first and foremost a network supporting these sorts of collaborations. What we hope to achieve is to harness the tension/friction between disparate fields from arts to industry to explore how these intersections can yield new and fresh ideas. Contemporary art is informed and inspired by a rapidly evolving techno-cultural public(s) which is, of course, shaped by the realities and challenges of the Internet and its impact on society (local/global). The Internet continues to be a serious terrain for artistic exploration including issues of protocol, creative process, subject matter, and new forms of participatory and social engagement. The role of the artist is that of the provocateur, whose goal is to challenge the status quo, disrupt expectations and to inspire alternative solutions.
Q. Artistic production can be a type of “data,” qualitatively and creatively informing policy debates by introducing new perspectives and modes of thought and consideration for an issue. In your view, what’s one of the most pressing policy issues and how does art, science, design or technology inform that debate? What kind of policy action do you hope that creativity can inspire?
A. One of the most pressing questions involves understanding how to shape open data policy interactions to push the boundaries of online or networked culture by addressing contemporary social challenges. Realizing this ambition requires innovative public/private partnerships that serve to enable new opportunities for cultural production and therefore beg the question of new legal rights and mechanisms that will ultimately empower the public. Artistic experimentation (as it was for with the emergence of the Web) will unquestionably inspire deeper understanding and critical assessment leading to more robust and informed open data policy initiatives.
For more information on ZERO1 and their ongoing Biennial celebration’s exhibitions and performances in the Bay Area, visit www.zero1biennial.org.