Everything is moving fast. Good or evil, progressing, evolving. One of the witnesses of this transformation is always art. We are listening Olof van Winden, the director and founder of the world famous TodaysArt festival about “digital art and new media” which has been rising rapidly also in Turkey in recent years, new age adaptation and new approaches of creative industries, and of course the protagonist: humankind.
“New” is used everywhere now. New media, new world, new technologies, new era… What does “new” mean to you?
In this context, for me, “new” is irrelevant. It does not matter if something is new or old. The technology is changing and improving rapidly; the arts are changing in form and medium, but there is nothing new about that.
- Technology. For me technology is everything we create as humans. This started with a stone, then a wheel, then became mechanical and now it is digital. I would frame this as innovation, which is exponential rather than talking about “new” technology.
- New Media is a term from the ‘90s. Let’s talk about art in general. Whether it is music, and installation or a tech-performance. At the end of the story it is what art does.
How would you define “media art” in the contemporary art scene?
Maybe it’s enlightening to distinguish some crucial aspects that deals with the contemporary art production.
First of all, digital art production is default.
I mean our daily culture is characterized more by Facebook, Twitter, Google, digital photography, YouTube, MP3, file sharing, iPads and smart phones, then by pencils and paintings, guitar songs around the campfire, or television.
Our culture is digital, and the non-digital culture is closely linked to the digital anyways. The computer is the main production platform for art and is therefore almost invisible.
If Michelangelo, or Vincent van Gogh were alive, they would probably not paint.
Secondly, the database paradigm prevails. The idea that a library of data (sounds, images, etc.) property, and that as an “artist” invents operations (algorithms) to do “something” with that data to make them interact, combine, merge, confront, to create an aesthetic experience, is the most obvious way to make art.
A third issue is that the computer became the meta medium used by artists – that is a known, crystallized and immediately available solution – for example, the software for photography, or audio software, it may be that an artist’s technology puts more into their own hands, by manipulating the software. The Do-It-Yourself ideology requires you to adjust the technology, to create personal and meaningful work to come – instead of a ready-made pattern to apply.
The fourth key issue is that it’s all about what art does, what meanings it creates, what experience and emotions it evokes, what questions are raised, how it shows the complexity of an issue. And so on.
That is what matters, not whether something fits in the definition of Media Arts or not.
New media are developing quickly. It started with video art later became unstable media, virtual reality and net art… now it is about RFID, GPS, Architecture, Mobile technologies, smart textiles even to biotechnology (when biotech considered as a medium).
That art is interested in these methods is not primarily because of a sheer love of technology and for the sake of experiment to experiment, but because these technologies in society, economy and culture are shaping the world today. The important issues of our time are contained in these technologies.
Those who ask questions about how we live our lives, to organize the world, even what beauty is, will probably also end up with new media.
Rather than individualism you are supporting cooperation, partnerships and shared leaderships in creative industries. What is strength of unity in the scene of arts and culture?
We all know that world is changing rapidly and we need ideas and creativity to go to a next level of consciousness. We come from a vertical world, which focuses on branding, profit and ego, and which has become totally unstable. We have to shift this to a horizontal perspective, which is about sharing in order to create abundance. There is enough food in the world to feed the entire the planet and there is money to make everyone fairly rich. Yet is distributed in a weird (and vertical) way. The horizontal is much more stable and endless…
Digi.logue is the first platform to focus on creative industries and technology in Turkey. As a leader of this field abroad, how do you see the future of digital transition?
Digital transition is inevitable and we have to face it.
As the first platform in Turkey there is a great responsibility to educate the young generation who are born digital in a time of rapid change, with unlimited amounts of information, and constant connectivity.
The current education system is based on old jobs that will not exist anymore, old capitalism and a totally centralized way of thinking.
As the director and founder of TodaysArt Festival, which is described as “an initiator of festivals and projects that form transdisciplinary meeting points for forward-thinking ideas,” what do you think is the medium of these ideas?
Art is the medium and the medium is the message….
Is there a professional dream you want to achieve?
Professionally, I am quite proud with the things that we accomplished. A respected global brand that works hard on supporting creativity and creating opportunities employment in this field; for the artists as well as the cultural workers.
On a more ideological level, I seriously hope we fail all the intergalactic space and Mars explorations and that we start to realize that our planet has enough space to still explore, as even the most remote places on earth looks much nicer then the hostile surface of Mars.
Humankind is going through a major shift. I have no answers or solutions, but I know I want to be part of it because, in 20 years from now, I don’t want to be asked the question “Where were you when all this was happening?”
What are your concerns about future of humanity?
I am a positive person and I believe in a young generation they will raise the consciousness of humanity. I also believe in the biological ecosystem that will always keep a perfect balance, but I do worry a bit about the technological ecosystem or “The TechnoSphere” that we created and that is feeding on the Biosphere.
We made mistakes in history when we followed Edison and Einstein instead of listening to Nikola Tesla. These mistakes were made as a result of capitalism and economy. I really hope that we will stop making decisions based on economic benefits.
How did you get involved with this world?
I was involved in organizing drum & bass parties in a squatted supermarket while I was studying. Besides, while I visited a premiere of the Netherlands Dance Theatre with an amazing choreography and music by Ryoji Ikeda, while half the room was 70+ years of age, I realized that there was a problem in culture. I was inspired by the new forms of creativity and by the great talent in my city that remained underground. The bad image and the lack of platforms inspired me to start an international festival where we could invite the international artists and stage them with our local community of artists. Very quickly we formed partnerships with other festivals such as Club Transmediale (CTM Festival) in Berlin, Detroit’s Electronic Music Festival and with Mutek in Montreal and Mexico. Out of that many networks and partnerships emerged that are now formalized.
Your projects and collaborations include Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, the Middle East, Canada, the United States and many European countries. How do you see the potential of Turkey?
There is always a potential! There is always creativity! There is always a reason to collaborate!
I am not a politician neither an economist; so from a creative and cultural point of view, I would say that we even have the task to promote intercultural dialogues and share ideas and resources.
We are one planet, and we have to face our shared responsibilities. Let’s cross these borders and connect!
Between all these disciplines, is there a field you feel personally more interested?
In general, I like to know a little bit of everything instead of having a lot of knowledge of one specific thing. I am a very curious person and the disciplines are all equal to me. I don’t mind the discipline, the genre or the medium as long as there is a narrative, a reflection an emotion or poetry.
We are also focusing on a multi -level approach. In other words, every discipline has been taken from an academic level to a more popular level. It is like mixing a good cocktail in blender.