The Shock of the New - Arts, Technology and Making Sense of the Future

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Sep 03, 2018
by Salzburg Global Seminar
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The Shock of the New - Arts, Technology and Making Sense of the Future

Latest report from the Culture, Arts and Society series now available online

In times characterized by complexity, disruption and an unprecedented speed of change, uncertainty about the future is staring us in the face. Throughout history, artists have deciphered prospective futures in their work; from Neolithic shrines and cave paintings, to modern film interpretations of utopian and dystopian futures. But can these creative outputs be used effectively to help minimize the shock of the new, and allow for a positive unified vision of our shared future?

This was the main question facing a diverse group of artists, futurists, cultural theorists and activists, museum professionals, technologists, educators and policymakers when they met in Salzburg, Austria in February 2018

Salzburg Global Seminar gathered the 50 future thinkers from 25 countries to re-imagine the nexus between the arts and technology, questioning what it means to be human in the Anthropocene and beyond.

Their discussions, learnings and insights have now been gathered in a new report, The Shock of the New: Arts, Technology and Making Sense of the Future.

Download the report as a PDF

The goal of five-day program, which forms the basis of the report, was to identify ways in which artists, technologists, scientists and futurists could harness the transformative power of the arts to make sense of and advance our understanding of the future (or futures). Recognizing that at the intersection of arts and technology is the ability to challenge the constraints of the present, the Salzburg Global Fellows – as participants of Salzburg Global programs are known – sought to discover how artists and cultural practitioners can expand their role in advancing policymaking for desirable futures.

Salzburg Global Seminar was founded on the intrinsic belief that we must look to the future in order to challenge the building blocks of our society. This program, part of the long-running multi-year series, Culture, Arts and Society, builds on Salzburg Global’s mission to challenge present and future leaders to shape a better world, while advancing its commitment to demonstrate the transformative power of culture, creativity and the arts by challenging participants to reimagine the possible. 

As well as summaries of each of the program’s panel discussions and group work output, this report also includes interviews with artist Amy Karle, musician DJ Spooky, designer Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, UN Live co-founder Michael Edson and Berlin’s Futurium director Stefan Brandt.

Download the report as a PDF


The Shock of the New: Arts, Technology and Making Sense of the Future is part of the multi-year series Culture, Arts and Society. The program was supported by the Edward T. Cone Foundation.