Experiments in Art and Economics: A Short-term Residency Program by In4Art and ZKM | Karlsruhe

Experiments in Art and Economics (EAE residency) is a Short-term Residency Program by In4Art and ZKM | Karlsruhe, where we want to stimulate collaborations between progressive artists and economic re-thinkers.

Bringing agents of two seemingly remote fields together under one roof and labeling it an experiment is not unprecedented. Especially when a critical point arrives in history, interventions that can roll societies toward ontological shifts are inevitable. At such acute moments, different disciplines and the cultures they are embedded in should be brought together and given a chance to clash.

More than fifty years ago the coalescence of the “two cultures” of technology and the arts, long separated segments of Western society’s intellectual life, produced a third culture. Among other initiatives, the Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) program, launched in 1967 by artist Robert Rauschenberg and Bell Labs laser research physicist Billy Klüver, promoted collaborations of artists, scientists, and engineers. E.A.T. activity brought together many of the well-known performative art movements of the time, such as performance art,experimental noise music, happenings, and actions, with engineering, information technology, and computing.
In the twenty-first century another urgency is apparent: economic frameworks must be rethought and reconceived. In the twentieth century we saw the rise of at least two sides to mainstream economic thinking: the neoclassical economic idea of human beings as rational agents making optimal decisions, and the neoliberal idea of pursuing endless economic growth. We pressingly need alternatives to both of these so that we can co-exist now and in the near future.

The financial crisis of 2008 and the current climate crisis have shown the world that we can’t return to normal, because the normal that we had was precisely the problem. Systemic change is inevitable, and both economists and artists are drawing our attention to questions that, as societies, we must answer soon in order to live sustainably together: How does a society become more distributive and regenerative? What can we do to respect ecological boundaries? How should our perception of value change, and how will new types of entrepreneurship, based on new forms of collaboration, become possible? How to reshape the way we think about the economy in order to open up space for new ideas?

It is against this background that ZKM | Centre for Art and Media Karlsruhe and the art-driven responsible innovation organization In4Art Rotterdam decided to join forces and set up an experimental EAE residency program for forward-thinking artists and distinguished economists to engage in a new collaborative form.

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