The awesomeness of Africa
“Art & Science don’t go hand-in-hand”…Think again…!
The Future of Creative Innovation and Technology
Thursday 14 September, I was so grateful to have gone to this event. I saw one of my all time heroes in person for the first time. William Kentridge. Technically, he’s every South African Fine Art student’s hero, as he’s the only one they really teach us about in detail in school. But he’s a legend none the less.
Animated film by William Kentridge “ Felix in Exile (1994)”:
He’s one of the first pioneers who experimented with various mediums. Known for his social & political themed drawings, prints & animated films. He has a way of weaving time & and the natural process of change within his works…He’s a true artist, a wonderful storyteller.
He discussed the multiplication of the self
He addressed the duality within us which hinders our creative process. In the short film he presented…the opening scene starts with him standing in front of a blank sheet of paper which is stuck to a wall. His back to the camera. He starts drawing, enjoying the process. He refers to creativity as an embodied form of thinking — Movements and gestures of the hands and body during the creative process. How we are consistently reshuffling fragments of the world, to create coherence. Our studios, the physical and metaphorical spaces of making vs the intangible within our minds.
The scene changes, and another Kentridge walks in, and starts criticising his creator self. He has split into the maker and the observer. One having fun initially, the second one, always dissatisfied (the critic). This goes on, the one continues to create, and the other one keeps distracting with reasons why the work isn’t good enough.
Eventually the dialogue between the 2 Kentridges ends with the maker telling the critic to “f*ck off”.
- We need a a safe space for stupidity ( Being stupid/blind is an essential part of the creative process). We need a space for free association without censoring.
- Clear rational thinking vs a type of blindness (stupidity) needed during the process
- Leave space for uncertainty and doubt — there is benefit in recognising instead of knowing in advance
- When the grand ideas don’t hold, find the ideas on the edges (think of it as peripheral thinking)
- Embrace failure & stupidity!
There was so much shared, you just had to be there. But this was the one presentation which really stood out.
The entire experience of that day was filled with so many inspiring people. People who are really making a difference! Creators who aren’t inhibited.
Those who take an oblique view to make sense of the world. Some who don’t want to be literal and who juxtapose ideas to make art. Who believe the world is full of absurdities and sometimes creation of the absurd evokes a better understanding of the world around us, and makes it easier to grasp. As the culture of reality is filled with elements of the absurd.
There were other innovators who addressed the culture we live in and the culture we hold within our hands to create. Some addressing social/gender inequality within their works. Some reinventing urban spaces to reduce crime by putting the tools of creation in the hands of the user.
Creators from Alt Reality, Dondoo studios, Yetunde Dada and Electric South using VR to innovate. Yetunde using VR for social impact. In her project “the Seventh Turn”-bringing light to the exploration of self : the journey of finding the truest version of self. In an immersive experience where the viewer begins as the Mugambo tree. The story is inspired by a Kenyan myth of gender fluidity. Ingrid Kopp from Electric South- a non-profit organization who uses emerging media, extended reality (XR)for mobile storytelling. Reaching different audiences via fictional documentaries. She mentioned that we are in a prototyping phase and we need to rethink the one-way flow of information and reach people where they are, with what they have. Alt Reality who teamed up with Wits Origins Center to create VR Headgear reinventing the learning experience. Instead of gear which straps around the head, (which most were uncomfortable with), instead simplified and created a handle. Their focus is on AR, VR and 3D Printing.
Dondoo studios who create 3D interactive media (AR/VR) to reduce risk and educate through training applications for mining/industrial arenas. Creating training material in VR for the mining industry, to help the inexperienced use specific tools underground : engaging & reducing risks. Other uses are as a means to protoype through virtual walk-through of industrial plants in order to assess designs prior to development.
- Things will continue to keep changing
- The question of access to information and how we consume it
- Quantity vs Quality — info/content that will really help (not just click bait nonsense)
- Tailored for us vs curated ourselves
- Ethically driven “creative VR” ( harder to fund — can’t justify art) — How do we create a space for creative VR when it will always be last on the list?
- How do we make it accessible to the African public ( with limited bandwidth) — Think creatively, eg. Youtube brought out VR180 — cutting bandwidth in half
- Technology is developing quickly, how do artists explore when tech becomes obsolete so quickly?
- Emergence of new technologies changes how people engage
- Games : Social responsibility
- More collaboration is needed
- No frequency of content (to stay always relevant)
- Once hardware costs decrease and corporates can be convinced to fund, overtime it’s an exponential market
- To not bank on one technology instead to understand the concepts and ideas around it opposed to concerning yourself too much with the hardware.
- Currently AR makes more business sense — corporate will back it (more use cases for businesses)
- The question of how we fund VR in the future
- Interrogation and innovation in the Arts Culture
- Resist taxonomies and terminologies — create spaces for debate & critical direction
- We are no longer playing catch-up to the west. We already have a rich historical digital legacy
- The focus of knowledge for practical purposes
- There is confidence & collaboration lacking — encourage new voices and ways of thinking in order to make tools which will inform a better world a new culture — multidisciplinary education
- User Research, Collaboration, partnerships, protoyping to assess urban design problems & collaboratively create solutions with the communities who reside in problem areas. ( high crime areas )
- City wide safety issues — aim to achieve sustainable human settlements and improve quality of life — a well regulated responsive city
- Broken window approach on crime — how the environment facilitates crime
Case study of an inner city park (End street, Joburg CBD)
- A collaborative effort between UN Habitat ( for a better urban future) and the JDA.
- Started with mapping of incidents (where are these danger areas, buildings, streets) — map these territories to facilitate better planning
- Research showed that the streets and public spaces where urban life happens were the greatest problem areas
Block by Block project:
- Minecraft used to create 3D render of the city
- This project used in 25 countries in over 40 projects
- Use of Google maps/streetview to build minecraft model of public space
- Takes 2D into 3D
- Run workshops in teams to train in minecraft
- Improve the City within the game
- Minecraft workshops — community engagement: a co-design process putting the tools in the hands of young and old to help them visualise and create solutions.
- Technology can improve planning and strategy
- Finding new ways to engage people — putting the creative tools in the hands of the user(innovation through collaboration or co-design)
- Users are able to create tangible ideas visually, where they may not have been able to do so previously
- Info is collected, and then work begins within the city to improve — work with JDA to implement & improve process
- This changes the relationships between people (architects, planners, etc) 3D easier to understand space (easier communication tool between various types of people )
- Innovation occurs in a collaborative process
- Community workshop: Mix ages in teams (eg. 40 year olds with 10 year olds) — inter-generational communication forces adults to find new ways to communicate to the younger ones. Young ones will usually take control of the game.
- Mixed Reality cities — community driven urban design
There was a mix of so many great “dream-makers/imagineers” (thinkers & doers) — I have a renewed lease on life after attending this event. So many awesome projects addressing social issues and really changing the world. I love it!
What are the key ideas throughout?
Effective Diverse Collaborative + Technology driven + Human Centered Design + (Science + Art) = Accelerated Disruptive Innovation (Abundant Sustainable Revolution)