Workshops

Luminous Green: Reflecting on the role of the arts, design and technology in an environment of turbulence

Date: 31 July 2008
Venue: Singapore Management University, School of Information Systems, Function Room
Time: 10.00am – 9.00pm
Workshop Capacity: 40 persons


Overview

Luminous Green is a series of gatherings about a possible future; about a human world, that is enlightened, imaginative, electrified and most importantly – living in a fertile symbiosis with the rest of the planet. The workshop in Singapore is a part of the series of gatherings, initiated by FoAM (http://fo.am) in Belgium, calling on the creative sector to enrich the public debate around environmental sustainability, ethical living, eco-technology and design. The workshop encourages transdisciplinary discussions and  collaborations between people from all walks of life. Artists, designers, academics, activists, social entrepreneurs economists and policy-makers whose practice incorporates ecological thinking as a core value, or as a major concern. Rather than designing a flotilla of green products, services and technologies to clutter the world in new and unexpected ways, the workshop participants will think about the kind of future in which we want to live, work and play in. What lifestyles, what social and economic systems can we envisage beyond the status quo? Is there anything that we can learn from existing social experiments, or the fringes of the arts, design and technology, to help us make our economic and political systems less fragile and unstable? Or vice-versa – what can artists, designers and technologies learn from the way policy and business approach the global environmental turbulence? Collaborative creation, open source technology, distributed play and games, mixing realities, locating media and questioning borders could become tools to transform our wasteful consumer-society into more inclusive, entangled and participatory cultures. If we believe that these tools and methods are a way forward, what can the electronic arts community do to propagate these tools and methods into everyday life? The objective of the Luminous Green workshop at ISEA2008 is to attempt to explore  these questions by spawning inspiring contacts and propositions, holistic methods and interventions, looking beyond conservation and sustainability. Using participatory facilitation techniques based on OST (Open Space Technology) and ARG (Alternate Reality Gaming), the workshop is designed to encourage interaction and commitment between everyone involved.

“A problem cannot be solved by people who are concerned with only one or another of its parts. To the extent that the consciousness of everyone is not fundamentally transformed, pollution will not cease.” -Masanobu Fukuoka

Context

Before springing into action and designing a flotilla of green products and technologies that will clutter the world in new and unexpected ways, we should think about the kind of future we want to live, work and play in. What lifestyles, what social and economic systems can we envisage beyond the status quo? Is there anything that we can learn from existing social experiments, or the fringes of the arts, design and technology, to help us make our economic and political systems less fragile and unstable? Or vice-versa – what can artists, designers and technologists learn from the way policy and business approach the global environmental turbulence? If we look at the problems of distribution of goods, people and information –  we can learn from the power of distributed collaboration, so well represented in 'wiki' culture and locative media. Awareness of energy consumption could greatly benefit from multi-sensory mixed reality technologies, such environmental sensing and low-power ambient displays. Gaming culture has a plethora of tools and techniques  to engage players in quite demanding pursuits; some of these techniques, even full-blown ecological games can be developed, to raise awareness and knowledge of young people regarding personal responsibility and action – in a playful and imaginative manner. Climate chaos is a global problem, which does not recognise national or economic borders. However, our 'global society' is still riddled with border disputes, exclusions and conflicts; perhaps some of the 'open re:source' models from software, business and art-world could offer interesting models for a more inclusive global society, that might be more apt to live in an environment of turbulence.

It is clear to people from the creative sector what it is that we can bring to the current social and environmental developments. However, we have to clarify what we do, how we do it and why it is relevant for a tree-hugging environmentalist, or a green-gold industrialist to take time to listen to us. Luminous Green provides an opportunity for the artists and designers to become proactive in these discussions and truly become the engaged avant-garde that many claim to be. From the position of respected discussion partners, we can work together with other sectors to design our way out of the current mess. We don't expect everyone to agree with each other, but a respectful questioning of each other's practices is a healthy thing - it heals arrogance, isolationism and xenophobia. With this in mind, we have designed the Luminous Green workshop to enable artists and designers to put their skills into practice, as well as learn new approaches and visions, through discussion and collaboration with dedicated practitioners from the fields of science, business and politics.

About Luminous Green: http://luminousgreen.org

Open Space Workshop

Luminous Green Singapore will be designed as an 'Open Space' Workshop. Using OST, a pro-active facilitation technique, the workshop aims to encourage reciprocal exchange of information, skills and experiences, in a non-hierarchical manner. All participants share the responsibility for creating a dynamic environment of ideas and connected passions, while each of the participants is asked to act in the workshop as they see fit.

The workshop sessions are planned and designed together, after the facilitators' introductory remarks and instructions regarding the goals, expectations and methods. Participants propose to lead sessions, to participate in sessions initiated by others, or they jointly design session on the spot. The sessions can have a wide range of formats - from discussions, to experiments, to presentations. After the sessions are designed and the participants have signed up, the workshop continues in breakout groups. The participants are instructed that the sessions should remain fluid - people can come and go, depending on their level of interest. This method creates a fertile context for animated discussions, seeding new partnerships and initiatives, while strengthening the reciprocal connections between art, design, engineering and the living eco-systems around us. The workshop ends with the session leaders reporting back to the whole group, and a joint conclusion, in which the most promising results are noted, future plans drafted and everyone's comments are heard. 

More about Open Space Technology:
  - http://www.openspaceworld.org/cgi/wiki.cgi?AboutOpenSpace
  - http://www.co-intelligence.org/P-Openspace.html

Event flow

On the 30th of July, as a part of the ISEA2008 conference, we will host the Luminous Green Panel, where the discussions with a wider group of conference delegates can begin. The panel will have the form of an open forum for conversation, in which we will examine the five themes of ISEA2008 under the lens of environmental and social turbulence.

Following the panel, the workshop participants are invited to join the group for a working dinner. During the dinner, they can introduce themselves and their interests, as well as meet other participants. The official part of the workshop starts the next morning, 31st of July, at 9AM, with the introduction by the facilitators and the 'marketplace' (designing and scheduling sessions). The morning and afternoon are divided in at least two time-slots and up to four break-out spaces. Between the morning and the afternoon sessions, a buffet lunch is served in the main workshop area. After the afternoon breakout sessions, the group comes together in the main workshop space for the joint reporting and concluding session, finishing around 7PM. The workshop finishes with dinner and drinks, at a site nearby. This will encourage informal discussions and networking to continue after the formal part of the workshop ends.

Documentation

The process and the results of the workshop will be documented online and a hard copy publication.  The material will comprise a blend of articles, short statements and essays alongside photo-essays or other creative pieces. The contributions will be provided by the workshop participants and facilitators. We aim to include a wide range of topics, formats and styles, to reflect the trans-disciplinary nature of the workshop. The documentation will help the dissemination of the information, techniques and ideas explored in the workshop as well as providing a platform for more considered reflection by the participants once the workshop has concluded.

How to get involved?

Please send an email to info@fo.am with a short biography and statement of motivation, in which you can explain why you are interested in participating in the workshop and what you expect to get out of it. As there are a limited number of places, we will select the candidates able to contribute to the diversity of perspectives, as the composition of the group will includes experts and enthusiasts, specialists and generalists, thinkers and makers. Deadline for application is 1st of July.

 

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