Antigua Fábrica Estrella Damm – 23 of February
The last day of talks was held at the former Estrella Damm factory. After the presentation and projection of the prize-winning works by Loop Discover and the lecture entitled “Fifteen Years of Art, Science and Technology via Artnodes” by Pau Alsina from the UOC, a lecture entitled “Art and Aesthetic Perception Outside Planet Earth” got underway, organised by the Quo Artis Foundation. This talk examined what it means for humans to leave the planet Earth and not be restricted by the laws and physical marks that are imposed on us by the law of gravity. The scientific and artistic reflection was led by Marc Marzenit, an engineer and music producer, and Elisa R. Ferré, a PhD in neuroscience and professor at the University of London, both of them members of the Zero Gravity Band, along with Barbara Imhof, a spatial architect. The session was presented by Tatiana Kourochkina, the founder of Quo Artis.
Albert Barquer began the session by explaining that the Zero Gravity Band emerged from the need to leave the conventional milieu of scholarly publications. Yet also as an artist, he wanted to go beyond the proposals in contemporary art. The objective was to create the first work of art conceived bearing in mind human perception in zero-gravity conditions.
Indeed, musical performance in a gravity-free environment is at the core of the Zero Gravity Band. Marc Marzenit participated in a parabolic flight in order to experience the sense of being in space. Each parabola that the airplane makes has 22 seconds of micro-gravity, and this was the time lapse when Marc Marzenit tried to play songs on a wireless keyboard. Based on this experience, Marc Marzenit recalled in the session that “blood doesn’t fully flow to the head, so I kind of lost my notion of space”, and he said that the instruments are designed bearing the Earth’s gravity in mind, while in space they would have to be redesigned and their ergonomics adapted.
From a more scientific perspective, Elisabet R. Ferré conducts research into how gravity affects the way we perceive information. She focuses on our vestibular system, which contributes to our sense of balance and spatial orientation. Inside this system are otoliths, tiny solid matter arranged in a vertical line following the direction of gravity. Under the otoliths are tiny sacs of liquid. If we go from a vertical to a horizontal position, the liquid tilts and the otoliths notice that they are not perpendicular to the liquid. This is the way the human body perceives whether we are horizontal or vertical. After having explained the context of her research, Elisabet R. Ferré told about her main avenue of study. The experiment consisted in having the participants sit in front of a screen and determine what orientation they found the most beautiful. The majority found that the vertical line was the best. The second part of the test consisted in having the participants lie down and evaluate the lines again. And what is interesting is that the agreement on the vertical line no longer existed.
Finally, Barbara Imhof outlined the Lava Hive project, which consisted in building a space station on Mars with a 3-D printer using soil from the desert of Mars.
The day concluded with the dialogue entitled “Post-digital Culture: New Ethical and Aesthetic Codes”. The digital sphere is no longer in the future but instead is part of our everyday lives; even a sense of nostalgia is not about in front of a typewriter but sitting before a Spectrum computer. Speaking about the real world and distinguishing it from what happens on the Internet is now outmoded. We know that a conversation on WhatsApp is as real as a telephone conversation. This was the point of departure of the debate, which was moderated by Vicent Sanchís, director of TV2, with the participants Pepe Serra, director of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya; Joana Moll, researcher and artist; Carlus Padrissa, co-founder of La Fura dels Baus; Marisol López, director of the digital culture area of the ICEC; and Rosa Pera, independent curator.
Rosa Pera started the event by speaking about the difficulty of combining disciplines in the same exhibition in Barcelona. “We are obsessed with having specialised museums, and I think this is obsolete… They are pre-digital cultural policies with a 19th-century vision”.
The next topic was the necessary digital transformation which museums have to go through. Pepe Serra reflected on the road that the art world will follow: “In the future, we will have to eliminate the difference between physically visiting a museum and taking a virtual tour”. With this reality firmly in place, he stated his opinion on how museums are organised. Exhibitions should suggest different routes to adapt to the interests and criteria of each visitor. He reminded the audience that “museums should not be spaces of silence”, and he wanted to make it clear that “if museums don’t change, in 10 years we’ll just be art warehouses”.
In turn, Marisol López works to bring the digital and cultural worlds together and help them understand each other, since even today their relationship is complicated. Sometimes it is difficult to believe that everything needs a digital transformation, although it is true.
Joana Moll reflected on her research into issues of video surveillance and the Internet. She stated that artists have a very weak role in this process of digitalisation and that “they should take a position of criticism of future dystopias which may emerge”. She believes that digitalisation has divorces us from natural environments, and she warned that “the Internet and the mobile phone industry are two of the most polluting sectors”.
If we talk about theatre within the art world, Carlus Padrissa explained that this category is a setting in which the Hurón team likes to take and combine different artistic and technological disciplines. He concluded the session by talking about the relationship between the actor and the audience in the future: “Now the challenge is getting the audience to experience the show as if they were one of the main actors”.
Òscar Martínez Cluró, a cultural edu-manager and digital community leader in the district, coordinated the three workshops held in the Eixample. The first of them, “LOw TECnology”, was a creative workshop of machines that draw automatically with a series of recycled materials and obsolete IT parts. This workshop was held in the Cotxeres Borrell Civic Centre.
“Creation of Videogame Controls with Makey Makey” was held at the Cotxeres Borrell Civic Centre. This second workshop focused on introducing videogame programming with an intuitive, visual system based on programming by blocks.
The district’s programming also included a workshop on programming in code. “The Runaway Robot” was held in conjunction with Crec.cc, which lent the venue, and Make & Learn. In the workshops, participants learned how to programme their own robot that is capable of figuring out a maze. The electronics were simplified in order to focus on learning Arduino code from the very start.
Finally, the workshop entitled “Raspberry Pi Connected to the Internet” was held at MOB, where participants learned how to create a world map where they could see Twitter trends with the Mobile Week Barcelona hashtag in real time with coloured backlights under each continent.
With a box, a motor and several coloured crayons, the younger participants learned how to build in the workshop entitled “Let’s Build a Robot Painter” held by Òscar Martínez Cluró. Making use of recycled materials and basic concepts of electricity, the small IT experts let their imaginations soar and created a small creature in a setting filled with colour and movement. This workshop was held at Crec.cc., which lent the space, and in conjunction with the association Tres dos ú. It was a fantastic opportunity that sparked the children’s interest in technology.
As part of the activities of mWeek Gallery, the Eixample presented and projected the Loop Discover “Video Art and Technology” prize winners. This prize was founded with the goal of supporting and recognising recent productions of videos and films by international artists through a call for submissions that is open and free to the art community.
Mobile Week Barcelona enjoys the cooperation and support of different entities and institutions to expand its activity programme, spread its impact and encourage the stakeholders in the city to participate more. In the Eixample district, the group Dones en Xarxa organised a gathering entitled “Cocktail&Net BCN: Ethics on the Web. How does it affect woman?”. An “Art Gallery Walk” was also held around the art galleries in the district. Furthermore, Art Barcelona, in conjunction with Loop BCN, organised an extraordinary exhibition of works related to science and technology, including the following works: Blanca Casas and Felip Martí Jofresa, “The Beach of Everything”; “La humanitat.cat” by Ferran Garcia Sevilla at the RocioSantaCruz Gallery; “The Madness of Being” by José Maria Sicilia at the Joan Prats Gallery; “Encounters” by Pablo Arnesto at the Marlborough Gallery, “Installation” by Neil Albertí at the n2 Gallery; and “Empty Page – Protecting Your Own” by Pep Vidal at the ADN Gallery.