Last May, the Dutch Electronic Arts Festival took place in Het Nieuwe Instituut. The theme was The Progress Trap: a critical look at progress and the role of new technology. Cinekid and Het Nieuwe Instituut organised the work session Learning to be Human, exploring a new kind of learning that better matches experiences with and knowledge of new media within the cultural sector. Three speakers were invited to share their ideas on the basis of their own professional practice.
The Exploratorium in San Francisco – a museum of science, art and human perception – was founded in 1969 and has since become a worldwide phenomenon committed to changing the ways in which we learn, expanding learning into a broader concept that includes, for example, play, exploration, experimentation and dialogue. Interactive artist and teacher Chris Cerrito talked about the Science of Sharing programme, in which research and experimentation play a central role. Traditional exhibitions are combined with social experiments to investigate human interaction and to reflect on the interplay between science, society and culture. A connection is also made with broader issues such as climate change and energy crises.
La Gaîté Lyrique is a centre for digital arts and contemporary music in Paris which aims to explore digital cultures. Artistic director Jos Auzende developed a special programme, Capitaine Futur, for children aged 1 to 10 years. This programme consists of workshops, exhibitions, concerts, multimedia and games that invited children to participate actively and think critically about technology. Capitaine Futur, a fantasy character with narrative superpowers, showed us the path to the future, leading children around his universe where they can learn about the possibilities offered by new technologies. In the interactive installation Weather Worlds, for example (also programmed in the Cinekid MediaLab in 2013), visitors can influence the weather by stamping their feet and waving their arms. La Gaîté Lyrique regularly grants commissions to artists for new works: Weather Worlds, for instance, was created in collaboration with TIFF Kids. This year, Cinekid is consulting with La Gaîté Lyrique on making a new work together in 2015.
Social designer and educator Emer Beamer provides a different perspective on the subject: not that of an artist or creator, but more from the viewpoint of an educator/social designer. Beamer is the founder of the Dutch studio Unexpect, where children can design a better future by means of new technologies. Beamer emphasizes that the large amount of information available and the advent of new technologies require new ways of learning. She states that we have to return to the principles of Leonardo da Vinci: curiosity, openness and demonstration. Making is the new thinking. Design & technology-based learning is proposed as a new learning method, made up of issues, research, ideas, sketches, creation and showing. Unexpect has recently started working with teachers in Dutch schools; it is interesting to see how quickly this approach is already being adopted into formal education.
The audience, consisting of students, artists, educators and others, was given the opportunity to ask questions after the lectures. These questions mainly concerned the practical programming of these new learning activities in education: How can such a curriculum be offered in schools, and how can this method of education be implemented within universities? What role can educational publishers have and how can teachers stay up-to-date with the latest technological developments?
Each of the learning approaches discussed relate to ways that children learn to deal with new technologies as important elements of our society, but not merely in the sense of equipping themselves with technical skills for the creative economy. In other words: Learning to be Human in a 21st-century way.
Learning to be Human will be followed up by the new media conference at the Cinekid Festival on October 15. This conference, called New Creative Technologies, will consist of plenary sessions followed by a series of round table sessions. The plenary sessions will discuss how new tools and applications are emerging within interdisciplinary collaborations. Zachary Lieberman & Molmol Kuo (YesYesNo, New York), Cyril Diagne & Béatrice Lartigue (Lab212, Paris), Chris Sugrue & Golan Levin and Anna Dumitriu will talk about their own research. The round table sessions will look at how the new tools and technologies that come out of such collaborations can be applied in professional practice. Participants in these moderated presentations will include Waag Society, Sago Sago, Ars Electronica, Tinkertank, Game Oven and many others.
Beamer, Emer. Emer Beamer @ Unexpect. Web. <http://emerbeamer.wordpress.com/>
“Capitaine futur et les super pouvoirs.” La Gaîté Lyrique. Web. <http://www.gaite-lyrique.net/evenement/capitaine-futur-et-les-super-pouvoirs-l-exposition>
Cerrito, Chris. “Bio.” Art Design Whatever. 2005-2014. Web. <http://www.artdesignwhatever.com/bio/>
“DEAF Biënnale 2014 | Het Nieuwe Instituut”. Het Nieuwe Instituut & DEAF. 2014. Web. <http://www.hetnieuweinstituut.nl/deaf>
Exploratorium. 2014. Web. <http://www.exploratorium.edu/>
“After Dark: Sharing.” <http://www.exploratorium.edu/visit/calendar/after-dark/january-2014>
“Exploratorium to Develop ‘Science of Sharing’.”<http://www.exploratorium.edu/press-office/press-releases/exploratorium-develop-science-sharing>
Unexpect. 2014. Web. <http://www.unexpect.nl/>
“Working Session: Learning to be Human, 22 May.” DEAF. Dutch Electronic Arts Festival. Web. <http://deaf.nl/PROGRAMME/events/working-session-learning-progress>