Human-Machine: Whats behind the Open Call?

To what extent does this new relationship between man and machine influence our society? And what other developments are possible? These questions are the subject of the Open Call by VISIT and Junge Akademie der Akademie der Künste Berlin. Clara Herrmann, director of the JUNGE AKADEMIE, explains why it is not only about digital technology as an artistic medium. 

Ms. Herrmann, starting in February, there will be a joint artist-in-residence programme of the JUNGE AKADEMIE der Künste and VISIT for three years. How did this come about? What connects the programmes?

First and foremost, we are united by the promotion of young artists in the interdisciplinary field. At the JUNGE AKADEMIE we would like to increasingly support projects at the forefront of art and science as well as thematic discourses with socio-political relevance and an artistic-research perspective. Our interests overlap here with the VISIT programme. Through cooperation we can share resources, know-how or even studio space. VISIT and the JUNGE AKADEMIE are also interested in new food for thought, an open dialogue and we want to learn from each other and with the artists. After all, digitisation in particular poses new challenges for society, which can no longer be answered from just one perspective. Therefore, we should allow alternative questions that are not subordinated to economic interests. This is where art comes in, providing different answers, asking questions and disrupting the usual processes.

The cooperation of a foundation and an academy in the form of an artist-in-residence program sounds like an experiment. What advantages does the cooperation offer young artists?

First of all, it ensures a very good financial basis. Furthermore, a cooperation has the advantage that the artists are connected to the international network of the Academy of Arts, which consists of scholarship holders and renowned members as well as partners. In addition, there is the network of VISIT. This expands the spectrum of exchange partners, topics and know-how enormously. The interdisciplinary field in which artists can operate is represented by the six art sections - visual arts, architecture, music, literature, performing arts, film, and media art. In addition, the Akademie der Künste offers a large presentation area, for example through events or discourse formats, which will be part of the cooperation. Moreover, we are currently developing a digital platform on which artistic discourses can be presented in the form of articles or temporary digital exhibitions. The VISIT programme also has experience in cooperation with companies. This is something new for us and an advantage for artists who build on this expertise.

The topic of VISIT is energy - the offshoot in Berlin focuses on "man and machine". What is your goal?

Currently, young art in particular is concerned with digital technology and topics - also here at the JUNGE AKADEMIE. Young artists see the developments here and pick them up even before an art institution reaches them. In our artist-in-residence programme, we would like to promote the perspectives of the artists who shape our artistic institutions and, at best, society as a whole. One of the defining digital themes of society, artificial intelligence, has now become widely accepted in the world of art. There are many cultural institutions around the world that deal with this topic, either from an historical or technical art perspective, exhibit works or host conferences. This means that we are entering into an already existing and very large discourse world that spans the globe. Our focus, however, is on the aesthetic and political level or on artistic perspectives and expertise. We also invite scientists, technologists and activists to participate in the discussion, and we are in touch with the business world. It is up to the artists to decide in which way they want to deal with the topic.

What opportunities does the artist-in-residence program offer to reflect on the new technology?

In our call for proposals, we are interested in the following questions: What scenarios can artists show in a future-oriented way, with regard to the special relationship between man and machine? How is the relationship between man, nature, machine, and body shifting? What other questions or answers does art ask and give in this context? What knowledge does it possess? What happens with "humane" autonomy? With the thematic call, which we are launching internationally, we have set a programmatic framework, but we would like to be shaped by the ideas and perspectives of the artists. There are no limits as far as methodology and formats are concerned. It offers the opportunity to take part in a discussion that will be conducted over three years.

The range of this topic is very wide - what is the call for proposals particularly important and what do you not want?

We see our call for proposals and the program as a platform that the artists actively and critically help shape. But we are not interested in artistic projects in which artists use the technology and the medium without critically questioning the tools. Our focus is also not on the confrontation or juxtaposition of artistic and artificial creativity. Furthermore, there are also many digitalization myths and a constantly repeating rhetoric as well as certain images in this field that have become established. Perhaps new thought experiments and perspectives are needed.

What do you wish for from the applicants?

First and foremost, we hope for a willingness to engage in dialogue and an openness to experimentation.