The Urban Media Art Academy is a networked, global educational initiative that investigates and intermediates what urban media art can do – why when where and how – for people and communities, urban complexity, and future sustainable environments.
The Academy offers educational programs for students, artists, curators, designers, architects, scholars, scientists and city makers across disciplines, knowledge systems and geographical contexts. It is initiated with aims of facilitating, qualifying and expanding reflective, ethical and sustainable theory and practice with media art in the urban domain.
Academy programs develop between theory, practice and network and engage holistic, interdisciplinary and transferable knowledge at the interfaces between site-contextual and global value worlds. They combine action research modules, lab+lectures, field trips, seminars, practical workshops and public symposia.
mission and structure
The Urban Media Art Academy is a networked, global educational initiative that investigates and intermediates urban media art as an interdisciplinary domain of practice, theory and knowledge sharing.
The Academy educates participants to engage as critical thinkers, artists, curators, designers, architects, city planners and cultural producers and future figures in the evolving domain of urban media art and aesthetics. Beyond a domain of artistic inquiry, urban media art plays a growing role as mediator and interrogator of urban change and in the so-called ‘smart city’.
The Academy is realised through a worldwide partner network of artists, art curators, scholars and creative thinkers. It develops in between universities, arts and culture organisations, NGO’s, cultural centres, city labs and media architectural initiatives, drawing upon knowledge, experience and methodologies in an interdisciplinary environment.
AN INTERDISCIPLINARY EDUCATIONAL MODEL
Academy programs are designed between knowledge systems of different sectors and cultural contexts to provide tools for ‘actors’ in the urban field (artists, designers, architects, curators, creative city makers, and others) to create artworks and initiatives that have consequences in the world. As an artistic and creative domain that evolves in the interdisciplinary complexity of urban environments, urban media art is situated real-time in its surroundings where it engages an immediate – rather than distanced – engagement with the world.
The Urban Media Art Academy facilitates the construction of an educational model around art that supports its conceptualisation, autonomy for critical reflection and response and influence on society today. It fertilises learning processes in between disciplines that equip participants with skills and critical conception in urban media art as a domain relating to co-production of society. It promotes experimental rather than conclusive natures in art and aesthetic practices. With the goal of interfacing existing – and developing new – knowledge systems that emerge around critical conditions of urban, networked spaces around the world the Academy reinvents what “interdisciplinary learning” means.
URBAN CHANGE AND URGENCIES
In a globally connected worldly context in which technological innovation progresses almost every sector of societies and cultural environments, art is crucial as autonomous and diffusive phenomena that engages with both natural and artificial processes of change. Situated in a growing creative and cultural sector, urban media art facilitates a domain of experimental, ethical and interrogative engagement with dynamics of change that intersects socio-cultural practices with processes of urban development. Art facilitates spaces that evoke human awareness, trust, inclusion, empathy, presence, thinking, engagement and eventually action – which may add up to changing worldviews, habits, innovation schemes and societal constructions. It participates in re-formulating imperatives behind technological innovations today while inquiring into urgencies of our contemporaneity.
We connect urgent issues of present day technology with philosophy and theories of human spirit, cultural heritage and ancient rituals, technological purity, indigeneous concepts of space and time, theories of alchemy universal energies, among other origins of knowledge that go beyond our societal imaginations of today. In evoking questions of ethics, diversity, complexity, un-linearity, inclusion and transparency art may bring us beyond shortsighted “solutions” and steer us out of repetitive habits of everyday life.
GLOBAL AND HOLISTIC KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS
As an education structure, the Academy offers experiences across multiple intellectual and cultural settings globally. Located in a global network the academy seeks to explore and apply knowledge, theory and practice at the interfaces between site-contextual and global value worlds, from which we extract and engage concepts and methodologies. Programs engage holistic, interdisciplinary and transferable knowledge, generated from a combination of proposition (content, meaning, references), acquaintance (retrieved through direct experience) and skill (practice, knowing how to ‘make’ art).
URBAN MEDIA ART IN RELATED FIELDS
Beyond a domain of artistic inquiry, urban media art plays a growing role as mediator, interrogator and facilitator of urban change in the so-called ‘smart city’. In a contemporary context of rapid development, namely due to digital technologies being implemented to progress almost every sector of society and everyday life, the Academy approaches urban media art as potential response to dominant visions and development imperatives of increasingly technocratic, quantitative and algorithmic rationales for city development. It operates at the interfaces of aesthetic discourse, media architecture, creative technologies, citizen science and city development.
Based on the publication What Urban Media Art Can Do – Why When Where & How the Academy elaborates the pivotal role art can have as an impulse to affect, mobilise, or initiate change, as a vehicle of ‘digital placemaking’. For example: by expanding our environments with sensible experiences of virtual, augmented and mixed realities; by enabling spaces of civic disobedience and constructive conflict; by redistributing sensibilities and offering supplementary spaces of mediation that help to unmask our reality and making visible otherwise invisible constructions; by presenting experiments, prototypes or test beds for innovation deriving from artistic (autonomous) imperatives; or by facilitation situations of social interfacing, shared encounters, telepresent scenarios, translocal dialogue.
CO-CREATION OF EVERYDAY LIFE
Urban media art can facilitate spaces for sharing, crowdsourcing and participation and offer ways of including citizens as part of urban processes of (‘smart’) technological transformation. By evoking citizen engagement, co-design processes, and various modes of participation, urban media art makes a resource for bottom-up processes in creative city making, presents a domain for social sustainability and expands a domain of cultural development. As such, urban media art may encourage people to be meaningfully involved in co-creation processes of everyday life.
Operating in hybrid fields, urban media art can redistribute sensibilities, and decode hybrid space. Art may interfere with the sustainability of the world’s ecosystem when artists experiment with pace and intensity of audio-visual impressions on our nervous systems and disrupt relations of space and time, connecting us to time-space constructions of other cultures or contemporaneities.
INTERDISCIPLINARY NETWORK AND LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS
Academy programs are not exclusively about art but concerned with the implication of art and artistic inquiry in hybrid urban environments, as processual impulses of change. The Academy is realised through a worldwide partner network of actors in the urban aesthetic domain – artists, art curators, scholars, architects, urbanists and creative thinkers. It develops in between universities, arts and culture organisations, NGO’s, cultural centres, city labs and media architecture initiatives, drawing upon knowledge, experience and methodologies in an interdisciplinary environment. Our concrete learning environments include art schools, universities, artists’ and architecture studios, urban labs and urban environments, and physical spaces of partner organisations and the cities in which the Academy takes place.
The Urban Media Art Academy is founded by Susa Pop and Tanya Toft Ag in 2017.
The Academy develops from the knowledge foundation of the handbook What Urban Media Art Can Do – Why When Where & How? (Av Edition, 2016) which emphasises the various conditions of the artwork and its experience, combining (Why) intent and critical inquiry, (When) reflection on timing and cultural relevance, (Where) emphasis on site (physical and conceptual), local environment, exhibition infrastructure and urban context, and (How) knowledge on how to produce, install and maintain the work during its exhibition. The publication departs from the research of the Connecting Cities Network and its curatorial topics of the Networked City (2013), the Participatory City (2014) and the In/Visible City (2015-16) into media art’s contribution to urban culture and environments, architecture and co-creation of cities. Connecting Cities is initiated by Susa Pop, facilitated by Public Art Lab, Berlin and realised with 11 founding members contracted and co-funded by the European Union, Culture Programme 2013-16. It is a worldwide expanding network of menawhile 45 cities and cultural institutions in the field of urban media art environments.
Founders and Directors
Tanya Toft Ag and Susa Pop
GLOBAL ADVISORY BOARD