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Art and the Digital Transformation

Copenhagen Business School via Coursera


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More than two decades into the new millennium, it is difficult to envision a future in which digital technologies do not play a significant role. Digital technologies frequently make a lot of promises. However, in recent years, we have seen an increasing number of artists address fundamental issues of the Digital Transformation, such as surveillance, lack of representation, and digital illiteracy. Artists have demonstrated that, while digital technologies have the potential to support processes leading to greater equality, they are frequently viewed as perpetuating and even exacerbating inequalities. This course is primarily aimed at changemakers who want to build a better digital future with the help of the arts. This course will teach you how the arts can influence technology development through art and enterprise collaborations; how the arts can assist citizens and civil society in making sense of and overcoming the challenges brought on by the Digital Transformation; and how the arts can influence the processes of regulation, policy-making, and legislation within the Digital Transformation. The course also provides insights into arts organisation, reflecting on issues of funding and community building that many engaged artists face. Building on theoretical concepts, questions about the arts and technology will be elaborated and explored through conversations with brilliant artists, makers, curators, and others working at the intersection of the arts and technology, who will generously share their knowledge and experiences with us. If you are an artist or an organisation interested in learning more about the power of the arts to influence digital transformation, this is the place to start. This course will provide you with the foundation and inspiration to begin or continue work on investigating, promoting, and facilitating more equal, inclusive, and democratic digital futures. It will provide you with an understanding of the challenges and opportunities of the Digital Transformation, as well as concrete ideas for how the arts can help.


  • Introduction: The role of the arts in the Digital Transformation
    • Welcome to our course: Art and the Digital Transformation. In this module, we will introduce the realm of art and the Digital Transformation. Our main focus will revolve around the challenging question: What is art? Through engaging conversations with artists and researchers, we aim to ignite a stimulating discussion on the potential role artists can play in fostering a more diverse and inclusive digital transformation. We will explore the various challenges and opportunities presented by emerging digital technologies. Finally, we will provide you with an introduction to the research project that underpins this course, Artsformation, as well as introduce you to the dedicated instructors and developers who have brought this course to life. We look forward to learning with you.
  • Fundamentals: Art as a transformative agent
    • The transformative potential of the arts has been a subject of passionate debate for a long time. Philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, and neuroscientists have all shown a keen interest in understanding the influence of the arts. They have posed thought-provoking questions: What exactly do the arts accomplish? How do they impact people's lives? What is their effect on society? What social changes can they bring about? Despite ongoing discussions, concrete evidence regarding the agency of the arts remains inconclusive, and the capacity of the arts to drive change continues to be a topic of contention. In this module, we delve into four interconnected concepts that revolve around the arts: art as therapy, art as care, art as imagination, and art as capabilities. Through these notions, we explore the transformative effects of the arts within the context of the Digital Transformation. This transformation represents a significant societal, cultural, and economic shift spurred by technological advancements like smart technologies, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and the integration of digital networks with data-tracking tools and algorithms. As people grapple with the profound challenges and changes brought about by new digital technologies, there is an increased inclination to seek meaning and solace, often turning to the arts for guidance. Simultaneously, artists are embracing the power of digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence, as mediums of expression. They employ these tools to experiment with novel genres and techniques, thereby raising crucial questions about the future of humanity in the face of obscure, inscrutable, and unimaginable software mechanisms. By delving into the four concepts of arts as therapy, care, imagination, and capabilities, this module introduces you to artists and creatives who, through their artistic practices, engage with and inquire about the digital realm.
  • Art and enterprise
    • While the digital transformation has a profound impact on all aspects of society, it is often driven by enterprise. Many of the most powerful digital technologies are created and utilized by private technology companies. However, there have been critical voices from diverse backgrounds and disciplines raising concerns about the implications of digital technology development being predominantly in the hands of profit-driven businesses and primarily represented by male, Caucasian individuals.For example, artist Mirabelle Jones explores issues of intersectionality, inclusivity, and power in relation to online platforms like Wikipedia through her work. Digital culture expert Katrine K. Pedersen, in collaboration with artists, investigates the effects of digital culture and transformation on vulnerable youth and marginalized communities.Recognizing the need to address concerns such as algorithmic bias, data privacy, and disinformation, as well as the broader ethical, socio-political, and environmental impacts of the digital transformation, there is a growing interest in integrating artistic and creative practices into technological development. This has led to an increase in arts-in-technology programs, ranging from artist-in-residency initiatives in private companies to creative collaborations in academic research labs. Enterprises and technology development leaders are increasingly realizing the value of artists and creative strategies in challenging underlying assumptions about the value of outputs and diversifying future project developments. Therefore, it is crucial to explore how art practices can be utilized in a business context to steer these technologies towards broader social benefits. This module focuses on three types of art and enterprise collaborations: art and technology industry collaboration, art and technology research organization collaboration, and art and civil society collaboration. Through the perspectives of artists and representatives from the business and civic sectors, you will gain insights into the challenges and opportunities presented by such collaborations.
  • Socially Engaged Art
    • In this module, our main focus is on socially engaged and participatory art and its role in the Digital Transformation. Socially engaged art refers to collaborative and participatory artistic practices that involve people as active participants or even as the very essence of the artwork itself. Through insightful conversations with Spanish artist Daniel García Andújar, this module aims to explore and discuss the various methods employed by socially engaged artists to bring about social change. We will delve into the potential effects and obstacles they encounter, with a particular emphasis on how artists both draw inspiration from and seek to shape new and emerging digital technologies. We delve into three distinct relationships between artists and the Digital Transformation. Firstly, some artists incorporate new digital technologies as integral elements of their artwork, utilizing technology as part of their artistic toolbox. Secondly, artists and cultural institutions are influenced by the Digital Transformation in ways that often present challenges, requiring them to adapt their organizational approaches. And thirdly, artists create artworks that shed light on the challenges and opportunities associated with the Digital Transformation itself. Moreover, we examine the diverse ways in which artists tackle the social issues arising from the Digital Transformation. This includes artists serving as commentators, offering critical perspectives on the subject matter, as well as artists acting as conduits for marginalized communities, amplifying their voices and experiences. Through our conversations with Andújar, this module sheds light on the challenges and opportunities that arise at the intersection of socially engaged art and the Digital Transformation. It underscores the inherent values embedded in the methods of socially engaged artists and underscores the significant potential of socially engaged art in driving the transition towards a sustainable and inclusive digital future.
  • Organizing the arts
    • This module aims to present a range of practical approaches for leveraging the arts to raise awareness and foster innovation, with a specific focus on digital technologies. Throughout this module, you will be introduced to four distinct organizations, each contributing to the creation of valuable frameworks and opportunities that enable artists and their projects to flourish in unique ways.
  • Art and policy making
    • In this module, we delve into the connection between art and policy making, particularly focusing on artwork that addresses the Digital Transformation. As you learn about the potential value of incorporating arts into policy making, you will also gain insight into some of the key challenges and opportunities associated with this endeavor. Throughout the module, we will introduce you to various individuals who exemplify different roles within this field. First, we will introduce you to artist Susi Gutsche and representatives from Sony CSL Rome. They will discuss the Trace Waste project as a noteworthy example of the "artist as mediator" concept. Furthermore, you will meet conceptual artist, hacktivist, and cultural critic Paolo Cirio, who exemplifies the "artist as hacker" role through his work, Capture. Lastly, we will introduce you to Tessa Steenkamp, an artist and designer who will offer her firsthand experiences working as an in-house artist and designer for the City of Amsterdam. Tessa's perspective will provide valuable insights into the practical application of art and design within a policy-making context.
  • Facilitating digital transformation through artistic endavors
    • In this final assignment, you must take the skills you have learned to use in a case study and analysis of an art project of your own choice. This could encompass a socially engaged or participatory art project, theatre, digital art, or any other form of artistic expression. Importantly, the project you select should align with the theme of Digital Transformation, with the aim of catalysing meaningful change within a community.

Taught by

Kirsti Reitan Andersen, Christian Fieseler, Ana Alacovska and Victor Renza


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