Writing about web page http://www.warwickartscentre.co.uk/project/projects/this_is_tomorrow
In March, WMG received a visit from a group of artists as part of a project, commissioned by Warwick Arts Centre and China Plate Productions, called This_is_Tomorrow. It turned out to be a really fascinating and thought-provoking experience for all involved.
To describe the context of the visit first: five artists were invited to visit five Science departments at the University of Warwick over a period of five days. The project aims to ‘generate new artistic ideas through unique artist/academic collaborations.’ Artists were carefully selected from across disciplines, exposed to a range of research and its authors, with the aim of exploring and illuminating ‘contemporary thinking and research about the human condition and key issues that face humanity across a range of subjects’. Or to put it another way - artists and academics are often the people who ask and/or answer the difficult ‘big’ questions in our society – what happens if you combine them together in an open and unmediated manner?
This is the second year This_is_Tomorrow has taken place at Warwick. The first tangible outcome of last year’s interaction is a theatre production called ‘Bank On It’ (Theatre Rites), co-produced in association with Warwick’s department of Economics. Bank On It is opening at the Barbican in London in June 2013.
- Alecky Blythe (Playwright and screenwriter)
- Chris Goode (Performance artist)
- Charlotte Vincent (Artistic Director of Vincent Dance Theatre)
- Robin Rimbaud AKA Scanner (Electronic musician and producer)
- Michelle Browne (Performance artist and curator)
- Paul Jennings (Professor of Experiential Engineering)
- Irene Ng (Professor of Service Systems and Marketing)
- Christopher James (Professor of Healthcare Technologies)
- Lucy Hooberman (Professor of Digital Media)
- Jamie Mackrill (Researcher in Healthcare Environments)
It was really interesting the way the group saw the work of WMG and the way they were able to relate it back to their own work and lives. Matt Trueman – the journalist who was following the group for the week – has written an interesting blog post about the day and the academics they met. Something the group seemed to take from our academics is that a lot of our research is based around what consumers / people want and they raised the question of whether it is a good thing that we are conducting R&D based upon what people say they want or need. It is logical that this is an objective of WMG’s research, as so much of what we do is in partnership with industry and, therefore, based on the needs of customers. This idea came up again and again - when discussing what sounds a car should make, how cities / buildings should be designed and constructed, and how people should access their local health services. Our work in many of these areas looks at what people generally find appealing and useful and how we can use this information to improve products and services.
An example of an interesting conversation struck up around soundscapes and experiential research. We realised there was common ground between what an artist might be commissioned to produce (an example cited was a sound installation for a bereavement suite at a hospital) compared to what WMG’s experiential researchers are trying to do (for example, create an appealing sound environment in a hospital ward). The two are similarly not trying to create either silence or noticeable sound, but a fitting background for a specific environment that people might find themselves in at difficult times. Success in both cases is measured by how positively the environment is changed for those using it. I enjoyed seeing how the artists and academics found common ground like this and how they can sometimes use the same bases to create something to enhance an environment.
What really surprised me about the project, was the mental and physical effort of the week from the artists’ points of view. Only on Day Two of a five-day visit, when they arrived at WMG, the group already seemed slightly dazed by the sheer amount of information that was being poured into them throughout their daunting schedule. The group spoke of the previous day spent visiting the department of Physics and talks about nuclear fusion and fission and miles of blackboard equations. Even after their day at WMG, they still had Economics, Sociology and Mathematics to go! This is a lot of heavy information to take in over the course of one week and from so many different angles. However, this is obviously part of the ‘chemistry’ involved in making the project work. The group are bombarded with ideas and concepts with the hope that one or two ideas take seed in someone’s brain and grow into a new creative idea, a new way of looking at something.
We are eager to see whether any of the meetings from this year’s This_is_Tomorrow project develop into something more. We will keep you posted with any news…