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Feb 19, 2018
by Carly Sikina
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The Shock of the New - Arts, Technology and Making Sense of the Future

Artists, technology specialists and other cultural practitioners convene at Salzburg Global to discuss the world's future This series will enable artists to play a more central role in decision-making processes and encourage diverse fields to cooperate

Over the past 20 years, humans have seen more drastic and rapid technological change than ever before. For some, these advancements yield optimism, due to improvements such as the increased availability of information as a result of the Internet.

However, for others, especially for those who did not grow up in the digital age, these changes can cause an immense amount of uneasiness and anxiety, stemming from the uncertainty around  technology's effects on the world. We, as a society, are entering a time where the future of our planet raises immense questions and the arts can help us better imagine a future we want.

Salzburg Global Seminar’s session, The Shock of the New: Arts, Technology and Making Sense of the Future, which takes place at Schloss Leopoldskron, from February 20 to February 25, is part of the multi-year series, Culture, Arts and Society.

During the session, an international group of 50 artists, technologists, scientists, educators, policymakers and cultural practitioners will partake in creative, serious conversations about our world’s future.

Some of the questions that will be explored during the session include: how accurately have artists in the past been able to “predict” the future? What utopian and dystopian views of the future are currently emerging in different art forms and technology? How can collaboration between diverse fields reshape the future of our planet? How can we preserve humanity in the face of an increasingly technological world? And lastly, what do we want the future to be like and how can we work toward making this idealized future a reality?

This session will combine various presentations, performances, discussions and small group work to stimulate and inform public deliberation as well as cross-sectoral collaboration. It combines theory, policy and practice across various disciplines, generations and sectors in order to include more diverse perspectives and worldviews in decision-making processes.

Martin Bohle, a participant of the session who has over 25 years of experience in STEM-related fields, understands the importance of active collaboration between the arts and technology, as he believes that his own “knowledge is limited”.

“I think what we need at many interfaces, is more capability to imagine. More capability to relate bits and pieces, which normally are not related to each other. I hope to come back richer with ideas [of] how one can get people more imaginative, more creative…."

This session strives to broaden the foundations for creative future thinking through active collaboration between diverse fields. A further aim of this seminar is to raise awareness regarding the powerful role that the arts play in accelerating sustainable, social change.

This year's program will build on previous sessions from the Culture, Arts and Society series, including The Art of Resilience: Creativity, Courage and Renewal as well as Beyond Green: The Arts as a Catalyst for Sustainability.

This series aims to enable artists to play a more central role in decision-making processes and to encourage seemingly diverse fields to cooperate and engage in new conversations with one another.

Susanna Seidl-Fox, program director at Salzburg Global Seminar says, "This session is a truly groundbreaking and forward-looking session for Salzburg Global. As part of our multi-year series Culture, Arts, and Society, this session aims to launch an unusual voyage into the future.

"Mobilizing intellectual and artistic resources from around the world, Salzburg Global will provide a generous space for exceptional conversations and hard questions: What will our world look like in 2050 or 2100? Who or what will control our lives? What will it mean to be human? With their ability to push the boundaries of the human imagination, how can artists and cultural practitioners influence the way in which decision-makers and innovators plan and implement our shared future?"      


The Salzburg Global program The Shock of the New: Arts, Technology and Making Sense of the Future is part of the multi-year Culture, Arts and Society series. The session is supported by the Edward T. Cone Foundation. More information on the session can be found here. You can follow all of the discussions on Twitter by following the hashtag #SGSculture.