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Retrospect and previewing 2017
The end of the year is both an opportunity to look back and to carve out future directions. At Baltan we have been busy developing exciting new roadmaps, which we will briefly touch upon after some reflections upon the year we leave behind us.
Besides global turmoil, 2016 also witnessed some unexpected shifts in the local cultural arena leaving many cultural organizations without the basic funding to realize their ambitions, or even to continue their operations. It is discouraging to see that in our increasingly polarized time, where culture can offer social coherence, it is often undervalued.
Increasingly we see a need for activities and organizations that facilitate the dialogue between disciplines, cultures and opinions. At Baltan we will continue our endeavour to have artistic research and development play a crucial role in generating new perspectives to complement the governing paradigms.
2016 was a year which marked many successful projects and new collaborations for Baltan Laboratories. In collaboration with Hivos and Dutch Design Foundation, we organized the third edition of Age of Wonderland in which we challenged young creatives from the Southern Hemisphere to tackle the notion of big and open data. Does generating more data lead to a better world? Our fruitful Big Data /Big Dada edition introduced six international fellows to the local scene of Eindhoven, its vibrant creative hotspots and living labs. During Dutch Design Week more than 5.000 visitors experienced their workshops and presentations. As a visible success, Ali Eslami's captivating Death Tolls experience, which moved many visitors from all ages and backgrounds, won the IDFA Doc Lab Award.
The 4th Baltan Quarterly was published with a thematic approach to Hack the Body, with in-depth contributions by many partners involved. Within the same topic, Baltan co-organized the Big, Open and Beautiful event at Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam in collaboration with Rathenau, WAAG, We are Data and Europe by People. This summer, bio-art pioneer Joe Davis - aka the mad scientist from MIT- stopped by to give a workshop and lecture on the Alchemy of Silk in collaboration with Mediamatic.
2016 was also a year of taking new directions and rid ourselves of old patterns. We initiated exciting new collaborations such as Creative Lab Brainport. Together with Brainport Development, three educational institutes and more than 15 companies, Creative Lab Brainport allows students with a diversity of talents to work on conceptual assignments brought in by the companies. In collaboration with representatives of Aarhus, Barcelona, Brussels and Ghent, Baltan lead the city of Eindhoven into becoming one of the founding members of the Creative Ring, a network by and for digital artists, designers, makers and hackers. As a first proof point, we co-organized the Benelux edition of the Creative Ring Challenge in which 5 winners shared €175k prize money to further their projects related to Smart Society. Another initiative Baltan co-initiated is a collaboration with social housing corporation Sint Trudo. A group of ten creative designers and entrepreneurs, were selected to join Trudo Lab to tackle questions around the future of urban city development, digitalization processes in a networked society and sustainable urban living.
On the verge of a new beginning, a sneak peak in the future reveals some exciting artistic adventures. Late March, we will substantially contribute to the STRP Biennale with our Hack the Body related projects. The end of April we will kick of Economia and the Renewable Futures Conference. A three-day event featuring exciting lectures and artworks to change our perspective on economy. It will be another exciting opportunity to unstuck ourselves from our current frame of thinking. Around the same time, the Creative Ring will launch its next challenge. This time in pursuit of the next level of Wearables projects, incentivized by €3M prize money over two years. In the Fall, Baltan – as will the whole of Eindhoven – will focus a lot of its efforts on the World Design Event, an international add-on to the Dutch Design Week. Leading up to that, we will organize “100 days of learning” related to our Age of Wonderland program.
We would like to thank everyone who has been involved with us in the past year. Stay tuned and we look forward to new projects and collaborations in 2017!
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