I work with technology. But my background is in arts.
This blog post is about discovering how artistic processes can influence technology—and about just how much technology needs both processes and values coming from the arts.
I danced classical ballet, my parents are both musicians and in so many ways, I was brought up with values such as artistic excellence, endless questioning, intuition over rationale, about giving room to surprises and coincidence, quality over efficiency, depth over surface, subtle slow thinking over drastic fast change, length over the bite-sized, experience over flashes of the moment, embracing complexity, defying the strictly linear—and about how gut feelings are more important than arguments.
Without realizing it in the process, I carried values from arts into business and technology. Every time I talk to an engineer, a programmer, a project manager or a business developer—my thoughts are permeated by such thinking. They might come to me with a design problem hoping for a simple, implementable solution to a complex problem—and although I have trained myself to deliver that, too—most often what they get are just more questions—or answers based on intuition. Because that’s how I faciltate quality.
Luckily, most of the time those clashes of paradigmes turn out fruitful. So what is there to learn here? That’s what I want to dig deeper into in the next couple of years.
Technology OD’es on rationality
I recently met with author and communication consultant, Christian Have. We spoke about this topic and he urged me to pursue this further—he asked: “How do you think artistic processes will help technology?”
"But I let artistic processes influence technology choices all the time", I answered and looked at him curiously. "What’s new?"
The answer is clear: Looking at the entire sphere of technology—it is nearly always dreamt up, planned and executed within a rational paradigm. Technology suffers from an overdose of rationality.
I’d like to dig into how we can let art and technology influence each other—not on an experimental basis but in a mainstream business environment.
With agile processes, we have found a way to make the most complex operations become streamlined. And that’s brought lots of value when it comes to efficiency in a chaotic digital landscape.
Yet, what I learned from my background was that only so much can be streamlined—and that true quality comes from the most unexpected places.
What art knows about quality
This line of thinking—that art knows something special about quality—is second nature to me. Artistic processes are all about achieving quality. Profit-based thinking, not so much. How many times have we seen inferior quality become a hit on the market? It happens all the time.
I’m not saying that’s never the case in arts—absolutely not. But art is intimately connected to achieving quality in a fundamentally different way than business. A business success is quality in it’s own right. Yet, it can be succesful without ever reaching a state of deeper quality—it basically just needs to be sellable.
Business uses technology—with and without strong values of quality. Art comes with another value set attached to it. One that I want to bring into business and the way we explore technology because it heightens quality.
I see that without art, I cannot produce the creative software solutions I work to achieve.
That has to be true for many designers of technology.
Artistic processes can greatly impact technological innovation and I can’t wait to explore this field even more.Comments