A weekend of transdisciplinary dialogue and creation at Hangar: Synergy

The last week of June we participated in the workshop Synergy: Interdisciplinary Practice and Theory, coordinated by Simon PennyRoc Parés and Mara Balestrini, within the GridSpinoza program organized by Hangar. The two and half days of the workshop were very intense and interesting. We brought together interests, methods and projects.

To us it was great to deal again with some of the questions that we posed about transdisciplinarity in the Common Grounds workshop of 2011.  At the time we followed a prototyping process. In Synergy, 2013 we followed the method of work that the workshop organizers  articulated around sharing and dialogue.

The workshop pursued the sharing of projects and ideas but also the creation of a protocol for the development of transdisciplinary projects. In this regard there were very enlightening interventions of each one of the three coordinators (Simon Penny, Roc Pares and Mara Balestrini) about how they felt  about transdisciplinarity, its objectives and its working methods.

Simon Penny approached the value and challenges of transdisciplinarity from a general perspective but remarked that transdisciplinarity is a process framed in social and historical contexts. What today is considered a transdisciplinary program, tomorrow will be an established discipline. He stressed the combinatorial  aspect of transdisciplinary work pointing, for example, to the translation of methods from one discipline to another. He also remarked the problems posed by the difficulties of communication and the need to play with the different languages ​and practices of each discipline that conrtibutes to a project.

Roc Parés approached his contribution from his experience in the intersection between art, science and technology, particularly new media. He stressed the opportunity to look in places where there is still no intersection between disciplines, and to delve into them to come up with new possibilities.

Mara Balestrini take on transdisciplinarity focused on her experience at the intersection of new technologies, the city and citizen engagement, a perpsective we can easily relate to. She shoed examples of projects where the use of mobile technology and the Internet in public spaces generated authentic engagement. She also shared her recent work on aspects of interaction between strangers in public spaces and its consequences.

During the following two days all participants described their own projects and then all of them worked together as transdisciplinary possible to create new proposals.

We came to Synergy wanting to know  about new methods but ended up opening up and morphing a little our project on internal contamination and joining in other project based on the concept of mistakes in general and science in particular and the role of misatkes in culture. We will describe this in more detail in future posts. In any case it was a very rewarding experience to know about other collaborative approaches from different disciplines. We left with very good connections and new potential partners.

A very good initiative.

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Discussions at la Mandarina de Newton: science communication and responsable research

The members of the Atelier des Jours à Venir operate as a distributed organization in  different European countries.  This time, they chose la Mandarina de Newton‘s new space for their residence. We organized a discussion about the new roles of science communication and the need for bidirectional projects that include both social communities and research communities.

Here you can see the video of the event including some interviews with the members of the Atelier des Jours à Venir:

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The Atelier des Jours à Venir (& Paris-Montagne) are visiting la Mandarina Space (02/11/2012 6:30pm)!

In two weeks time the Atelier des Jours à Venir (some of them members of Paris-Montagne) will be visiting la Mandarina de Newton new space in Gracia.

If you don’t go away for the long weekend and you want to meet them in person and know a bit more about their project, come next Friday 2nd of November at 6:30pm to La Mandarina de Newton new space at 12 Montseny Street, Barcelona. In the Gracia neighborhood.

The Atelier des Jours à Venir is a non profit cooperative company, composed of young researchers and teachers. Some of its founders are also part of the NGO Paris-Montagne, a collaborator institution of the project Science of the City, that has recently started its second edition.

The Atelier des Jours à Venir develops and performs teaching for students in university research curricula, aiming at fostering sound responsible practices within the research community. By addressing the implicit usages and values that coexist with rational investigation, it aims at empowering university students to become active, creative and responsible members of the research community, contributing to a fruitful dialogue with society.

In addition, the Atelier des Jours à Venir creates and supports projects of scientific culture with a strong social commitment: conveying the research and the values of scientific communities, can empower citizens, in particular in socially deprived contexts, such as French suburbs, Egypt, ex-Yugoslavia, where they have been taking action. We also take action to spread tools for citizen participation in research, from creating questions to gathering & analyzing data.

Their presentation will take the form of an informal discussion, and they look forward to interact with the assistants on the following topics:

  • Local communities
  • Research communities
  • All the interactions among these two concepts

It’s going to be great to hear from them their past experiences and future proposals and we are sure, you’ll have lots to say! So, if you are near Barcelona, do not miss it!

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Cooking up a new exhibition at the Liberty Science Center

The Liberty Science Center in New Jersey is creating a new exhibition on “Cooking”. This time, though, they have decided to open their kitchen to the public and let people participate in the creation process of this exhibition on the subject of cooking

They have created the network “Cooking up” the Liberty Science Center exhibition, to bring together the exhibition team and outside people who are interested in participating in the development and design of this new exhibition. Their main goal is to create a nice group of people who we can share ideas and add some flavour to the final exhibition.  At the moment, they have more than 700 members that have joined their network.

They also invite people to go to their weekly meetings so there we were for the last two weeks. Each session they discuss about new parts and spaces of the global exhibition. All the details are brought into the conversation and the final conclusions of the meetings are uploaded online. The creation process travels from online to offline to go back online to eventually become offline… During the whole journey contents change thanks to people’s contributions and on the top of that, anyone who follows the journey will, for sure, learn more things about science, food, cooking, technological applications and museum tricks.

This is a great project that we are very pleased to follow!

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Science explained by the Tech Museum visitors

Today, The Tech Museum president, Dr. Peter Friess, officialy opened the exhibition “The Tech Challenge Gallrey”. This exhibition shows to new visitors, more than forty totally interactive experiments prepared, narrated and explained by other visitors: boys and girls that have collaborated in this gallery explaining experiments on video.

This exhibition has been and is a learning process for all. On the one hand, kids close to the Tech Museum have learned by getting involved in the exhibition creation process itself. They also have discovered fundamental laws of physics related to light, mechanics, fluids and then have been able to explain them in their own words in a simple, funny and engaging language. They are the protagonists of it all. They appear on a video seen on a flat screen device behind an actual physical experiment that can be use in the gallery.

On the other hand, the Tech Museum professionals have been able to learn more things by sharing with this true protagonists of the museum and they have been able to share this experience with this special visitors. The President of the Tech Museum said that there is no better way to measure the impact of the Museum than to see how this kids are explaining scientific laws and experiments. It is a way of measuring not so much related to quantities of visitor but to the quality of their learning.

Finally, other new visitors will be able to experiment and understand science thanks to the videos recorded by other previous visitors: the girls and boys we have alreadya mentioned. Everyone, eventually could become the start of the “Tech Challenge Gallery”, because this is a process that is alive and well and will be kept going by all people involve, staff and visitors alike.

The Tech Museum will create a new lab, where boys and girls will be able to shoot their own videos  explaining what they have learned while performing experiments and other activities in the center.

This exhibition, however, is not only for kids. Adults can also enjoy it. The Expolab Team (Irene Lapuente and Ramon Sangüesa) have been there too and enjoyed playing with wheel gears, peg tops and prisms. We think that this kind of initiatives help not just to bring science close to people but also let the younger ones appropriate by science themselves. Congratuilations to the Tech!

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We keep on working with the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose

We have travelled to California to continue working on more issues related to participatory exhibitions with the Tech Virtual Museum of Innovation team during the month of August.

The day started with a meeting and it went on with lively discussions around virtual worlds and users communities, and we attended an interview with the Montclair University in Second Life.

Bob Ketner and Rob Stephenson welcomed us wonderfully. Here are the first pictures of this trip. Of course, they are a bit special… This entry started with a panoramic view of the four of us and it finishes with a polar view. They are the result of a module created by one of the participants of one of the competitions organized by the Tech Virtual in Second Life to develop exhibits.

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We attended the symposium MYAEWKIAC

On Saturday 19 December 2009, the Expolab team consisting of Ramon Sanguesa, Astrid Lubsen and Irene Lapuente attended the Symposium”Me, you and everyone we know is a Curator” in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. There were speakers from various backgrounds, such asBruce Sterling, Mieke Gerritzen, Rick Poynor, Andrew Keen, Sarah Cook, Willem Velthoven, Aram Bartholl or Dagan Cohen.

The event was opened by Mieke Gerritzen,Director of Graphic Design Museum in Breda. Mieke talked about the democratization of design, caused by the ongoing changes in technology and the tendency of society to retain control and not open the design process. She raised the possibility that there is something traditional without interference of modern culture if its existence was necessary. This she called “organic design” and se also mentioned that we live in a “do it yourself!” society.

The opening lecture was given by Bruce Sterling, who proposed a couple of metaphors that were used throughout the entire symposium. Sterling said that the digital revolution had already taken place, and while we were facing a new decade we have to await the results of this unplanned revolution without anchors of the past.According to Bruce Sterling people of the new society can no longer see technology as something positive that has transformed the way of doing things because they simply do not remember how they did these things before, without technology. They see technology only as a methodology, a way of doing things. At the moment this revolution has left us with processes, actions and institutions that he calls the “Gothic Hi Tech”. On the other hand, people who are creating other processes, actions or institutions that are less archaic and planned. He called this second type the “favela chic”; identifying it with the cultural processes of appropriation of technology in these settlements. Sterling defended the technology of the “favela chic” type. Although “favela chic” could appeare disorganized, unstructured and poor, it is truly innovative and revolutionary.However, structures built with Gothic and heritage of the past, have wiped out the possibility of creating fresh things. Finally, he explored the dilemma that might arise from mixing the language of technology and the structures of “favela chic” that are constantly changing, and conservation efforts of museums.A possible solution to the dilemma would be to stop considering the museum as tombs for conversion projects in nurseries, laboratories, etc.

Later during the morning,Julia Noordegraaf, director of the Master”Preservation and Presentation of the Moving Image” from the Media Studies Department at the University of Amsterdam discussed the issue of considering the exhibition curators and publishers. Then, Sarah Cook, co-editor ofCRUMB (the Curatorial Resource for Upstart Media Bliss)  and researcher at the University of Sunderland gave an interesting presentation on curatorial strategies for artistic production on-line.She showed excellent examples of mixing fiction and reality within a museum. Later, Rick Poynor, design critic (one of the authors ofDesign Observer“) and writer showed an interesting overview of various design blogs, and raised the issue of copying without improving and not remunerate the work of the people working, writing and managing blogs worldwide. Almost ready to go have lunch, a member ofMetahaven, a design and research studio based in Amsterdam presented us graphic design concepts and strategies of communication. The morning session concluded withSophie Krier, organizer and designer of the symposium, who discussed the whole process of designing the event.

We had a short half-hour to grab some lunch before proceeding with the afternoon speeches. Andrew Keen, a known author and conference speaker, demonstrated avery critical and negative vision. Raising the question of how a technological society economically supports itself he promoted the return to traditional roles of exhibition curators as key teachers of culture.

While Andrew Keen tried to redirect the symposium to catastrophist criticism, the following talks during the afternoon were not of such kind but quite the contrary. Willem Velthoven ofMediamatic, Aram Bartholl Berlin and Dagon CohensUpload Cinema. project filled the hall with fascinating and incredibly interesting examples that were the opposite of what Keen preached.

Willem Velthoven talked about an exhibition co-created with artists from around the world. After the symposium, the Expolab team felt encouraged by the words of Willem Velthoven, and visited the exhibition at the headquarters of Mediamatic. Our experience was really of a of the quality that he spoke about.The German creative Aram Bartholl showed us artistic examples where digital and analog go hand in hand, being transformed into something surprising and appealing. Finally, Dagon Cohen presented a proposal where the Internet would be the salvation of traditional cinema and its traditional form to be distributed. We have to say that due to timing issues we could not see a full movie produced byUpload Cinema, but the small pieces that showed us left us with a great desire to participate in it!

The symposium ended with a discussion moderated by Henk Oosterling and the whole event was moderated by Koert Van Mensvoort. ! It was quite a symposium! A very interesting day, where we met people from the design world, museums, technology, with interesting things to say and success stories to show. The three of us enjoyed the symposium, visiting exhibitions and shopping in Amsterdam and visiting the country left us with an excellent feeling. We also opened contacts with a few of the participants and visited a couple of institutions to start preparing new projects.A great beginning!

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