We live in an age that is to an increasing degree characterized by complexity, change and uncertainty.
Digitization and automation require a redefinition of work and education. Even more, in conjunction with the development of artificial intelligence and biotechnology the future role of mankind on our planet is up for discussion.
Global migration movements caused by climate change, wars and social as well as political disruptions change living conditions and social identities.
The change in the age structure and social inequality pose new challenges to coexistence in increasingly urbanized societies.
Almost a century after Heisenberg formulated the uncertainty principle and his theory of quantum mechanics has broken the paradigms of physics and even philosophy, we are still accustomed to arguing and acting largely along linear causality patterns within insulated boxes of fragmented sciences, while a few scientific disciplines that work together in substantive clusters, assert and claim the power to define the terms “progress” and “future“.
Dealing with ambiguity and uncertainty is familiar terrain to artists. They are used to anticipate and develop of future scenarios with the power of imagination, using the systematic strategy of questioning existing structures and creating unconventional contexts. In almost all ages of human civilization the arts have taken part in in the explanation and development of the world. The history of art shows how systematically the arts dedicated themselves to this task, proceeding from different approaches and positions.
Research is the systematic search for new knowledge to explain and develop the world. After a period of strict differentiation between art and science, assigning the term research exclusively to the sphere of scientific research, we now realize consciousness about art and science being sisters with a long, intensive and most successful joint relation.
Recent examples of artistic processes and projects, consciously defined as art-based research, lucidly show that there is a need for non-linear thinking and for the multi-layered as well as poly-sensory observation of an increasingly complex world. Grand global challenges, like urbanization or aging societies art-based research, cannot be met by using – mainly mono-disciplinary – scientific approaches. The more we understand the mechanisms of digitization and artificial intelligence, the more we recognize how all this can and will change the human condition – the more we will realize that art-based research and its complementary approach is the second side of a coin, called human civilization.