Weekly Excerpts #4: 28/1/2019
We have 6 weeks to go before the book launch of our guide. We want you to know exactly what to expect from the book and to get to know the amazing people behind this project! Every week you will be able to check in on our website in order to find a new essay, article, artist or business from the guide.
This week’s excerpt is an interview with Galit Ariel. Galit defines herself as a ‘digital hippie’ – since she is passionate about a future that will integrate technology into our everyday lives, but not control it. As a thought leader in Augmented Reality, she explores the wild and imaginative side of immersive technologies, but also their impact on our cultures, behaviors and ethical issues related to them. Her book ‘Augmenting Alice – The Future of Identity, Experience and Reality’ [July 2017] offers a context and futurescape to Augmented Reality applications, considering its impact on our public, personal and intimate space, that ultimately alters the way we experience reality and our sense of self.
Interview with Galit Ariel – Conducted by Nicole Loeser in fall 2018
How would you describe your role with respect to art and innovation?
I would perceive myself as sitting inbetween. I’ve been playing back and forth between these spaces for a long time. I started as an industrial designer, which really makes you think about functionality, but of course part of design is also creative expression and a singular, individual vision. This is what gives it a different value. At the moment I’m focusing on emerging technologies. I’m noticing more and more that the creative aspect of it is more necessary than the functional, especially when we talk specifically about future technologies such as immersive technology—meaning technologies that add a digital layer directly onto our physical space, and that we can interact with in real-time. A fully reactive digital experience within a physical space means that we are creating a completely new domain—one that merges the physical and the digital in ways that we can predict but cannot fully anticipate.
There needs to be a lot more room for experimentation before we can get to understand the full impact of these technologies’ application. We will have access to so many incredible tools and almost infinite possibilities of self-expression. It is really a fantastic time to create interactive art pieces, and for interactive applications within physical spaces as well. It will be amazing to explore new facets of physical art through digital means and the role of digital art in the physical space; mixing the way we create and experience them can give such depth to both.
What do you consider an expressive example when you think about experiencing the connection between art and innovation?
For me the ultimate example, even though it might be a bit old-fashioned, is Michelangelo. Michelangelo is the classic example of an artist connecting art and innovation. In many of his artistic studies about life, shadow, proportion, the human machine, machinery, you can see the synthesis between art and innovation. He is the ‘Renaissance man’ who holds both in his hands, and one fits the other.
Could you also give us a contemporary example?
A contemporary example is Olafur Eliasson. I think he is amazing because, although he is defined as an artist, I actually think of him as an innovator in terms of immersive experiences. I always take him as an example when I give talks in order to demonstrate that when we consider ‘immersive’ experiences, it does not always have to be something completely overt; you can overwhelm people even with simple things. His artwork always has such beautiful visual impact, but when you are there, in the space he has created, you experience it on an amazing physical level; it is the incredible sensations, often very basic and nuanced, but you feel them 360 degrees. He has developed a very smart yet simple way to make us really connected to ourselves through technology and art.
When you think of art and innovation collaborations what are your expectations? What do you think could come out of such collaborations and why is it necessary to bring the two together?
Art is something that is always considered subjective and democratic: the artist creates an artwork with his or her personal intention, but the spectator is also free to interpret the artwork according to his personal perceptions. This is even more so in postmodernist art, for example.
In contrast, innovation is very purposeful and in need of quantifiable results and output. What is important is creating a hybrid system where you can allow personal experimentation with space; where you can allow subjective interaction with an input from art, but simultaneously you have a sense of purpose and an output. When you bring these two qualities together you are harbouring the creation of work that is not only either an intimate experience or technological system; it is a system that is validated by the intimate experiences.
Where do you perceive a potential for artists working with innovators?
In business or innovation schools, they teach you paradigms and formulas: do ‘A’ and then you will get ‘B’. I don’t think there is a magic formula for innovation or we would all be millionaires, but there are rules and systems in place. The human factor acts as a kind of bond for innovation. The human factor is something a little bit unpredictable, emotional, subjective. This is when creativity and art come into play. Innovation is only thinkable by considering the human at its core—the creativity and humanity.
As much as I love art, the harsh reality is that art needs to be more sustainable. I believe that partnering art and innovation can make art more accessible to people, which will allow people to experience, experiment and contribute more. We live in an era where everything needs to have a purpose, and normally that purpose is not the human experience. What this world focuses on is business, consumption and all that can be quantified.
Even the world of sustainability seems to follow the credo ”Show me the money, show me the outcome”, and while it is necessary to be able to measure and quantify, this leads to the point that we stop legitimizing experiences and values that we cannot quantify.
Why is it bad to just have ‘art’? Why do we have to prove its value; prove it by showing how many visitors you had, how much money you make. I think there is a danger with this approach in discounting the validity of that which we cannot measure but can only feel.
In short, artists and innovators working together is mutually beneficial: innovators are bound up with creativity through their pioneering and forward thinking nature—they need a creative mind, while artists need innovators to become more sustainable, visible and validated. The collaboration brings growth and expansion for both.
What implementations or approaches have you already tested in this field, if any?
We have already tried two things in the book I have published about augmented reality. We applied an augmented reality layer that constantly updates the data layer and makes it into a ‘living’ media platform, but we also want to test what happens when you add little animations just for fun and see how people react to that. In every project that I’m doing, I’m trying to allow people to participate and experiment, but also to have purpose behind it. Even in projects that I’m doing about sustainability, it is about the art, it is about creativity, embossing something poetic and beautiful within the interaction, but it’s also about how we connect that with some tangible benefits—how we make it work together.
Galit Ariel at TNW Conference 2017
Featured image: Colleen Flanigan
Stay tuned for more Weekly Excerpts.