Symposium: TOPIA

Saturday afternoon
Part I

Nadja Maurer introduced and moderated the panel.
she studies cultural studies, with special emphasis on cultural anthropology, media psychology.

TOPIA tackles the world in 25 years (this year the festival celebrates its 25th anniversary), to present future scenarios around many topics relating to art, technology and society.

She gave four definitions of topia, topia is a sort of artificial world, created after topos, which in ancient Greek means “place”. This allows many interpretations.

She defined 4 categories of topia from a cultural point of view.
– a biological system of space,
– a space of communicating cultures filled with artefacts,
– a geographically measurable place,
– a cognitive domain.

Gerhard Dirmoser (A)
System analyst specializing in geeographical information systems. He is studying the 25-year history of Ars Electronica to try to uncover the future tendencies from a complete mapping of past facts, tendencies, languages, fashions, interests, etc. that made the festival. He mapped absolutely everything: the media studied at AE, the attendees, the artists, the verbs most used, the persons most quoted, etc. and the links between them. The result was a huge series of maps condensing roughly 9000 pages of material from the catalogs of AE.

Joan Shikegawa (USA)
Associate Director for Creativity and Culture at the Rockfeller Foundation. Arts advisor for a broad range of projects in the visual, performing and media arts.

“The future is not something that happens to us, the future is something we make happen)

Open-source is the tool to give a means of creativity to everyone.
She talked about the “protection of broadcasting” treaty proposed by the WIPO and which is under discussion in Geneva, it would give them special rights on any kind of sound or images, basically it would mean that if they transmit something, they own the rigths for 50 years. whether it’s part of the public domain or not.

Many organisation WIPO, TRAIPS, EU, US congress, etc. seem to cook up laws that would make nearly impossible the ideal of the accessibility of knowledge to all, even to remote parts of the world!

We are at the very beginning of a revolution which would provide digital tools for creativity to all. The first nations to defend the access to tools that would allow anybody anywhere to create and communicate are countries such as Brazil and India. Not the well-off. Not us. Brazil wants to push to an open access model.

The power provided by accurate information and data is huge.

Farmers in India are able to bargain a fair price to sell their goods thanks to the information they can get from the internet.

The world needs affordable tools to create, communicate, publish.
Do we have the vision, the strenght to hang on to what we have built so far?

Joan urged for a new alliance which would speak on behalf of knowledge.

“Without a common pool of knowledge to share and exchange, we are left without understanding”