The most crucial challenge artists, designers and engineers are facing in the 21st century is the advent of digital tools. No other technical evolvement has brought the very notion of human creativity and its role in crafting design objects or artistic works into such a crisis. While providing new methods, markets, techniques and contexts in which to operate, digital infrastructures have at the same time most forcefully laid bare the widespread dichotomy of the aesthetic vs. the technical. In Germany, this dichotomy is felt even more strongly than in the anglophone world, as the arts traditionally have little contact with the sciences in terms of their institutional organization. This must change.
It is our strong belief that the future of innovation in the fine arts, design and engineering will not be determined simply through aesthetic discourse on the one hand and technical developments on the other. Our rationales for SHAPING SPACE are that:
We observe that decades of swift and universal digitization of our living and work environments have not yet brought about any widespread qualitative improvement of space in regard to its functional and aesthetic performance. Consequently, the current state of the art of spatial design is well below expectations.In recent years, technologies for the generation of virtual and augmented realities have provided us with powerful tools to create fictional spaces. In spite of their obvious potential for supporting design actions and design decisions, they are, however, rarely used for the creation of physical spaces in contemporary architectural practices.In development phases, different stakeholders such as scientists, engineers and artists still work for the most part within the confines of their respective disciplines. The lack of early cooperation often produces outcomes that serve metaphors and optimize the performance in each domain separately. Only at the moment of physical implementation are the performative deficits evident. But modifications at such a late stage in the design process, if possible at all, are disproportionately costly.The Berlin Campus Charlottenburg hosts two universities from technology and the arts in immediate proximity to each other. Both are international leaders in their respective fields and boast a wide range of research and facilities for experimentation. In their combination, and with their respective international networks, they constitute an exceptional pool of scientific, engineering, design and artistic expertise.
As such, the SHAPING SPACE is uniquely positioned to push forward with an integrated research model that utilizes and adapts traditional scientific approaches to the digital, and complements this with more free or intuitive, artistic-based interventions. From this model emerges our digital critical concept. Here, we develop a position of objectivity about the role of digital technologies and their relation not only to society, but also to design as a shaping of the material world. The research consortium is not only concerned with technical and technological advancements in art, architecture and design, but also with the question that Marshal McLuhan raised of whether technologies are not simply inventions that people employ within a problem space, but also the means by which people and society are re-invented.