Published: 8 June 2021

Mapping the Arts across Europe: new reports out

by Artsformation

Six months after launching Artsformation, our team of researchers are publishing this week two new publications that offer an overview of the existing socially engaged Arts in Europe and one about the integration of the arts within the enterprise.

Mapping the Socially Engaged Arts in Europe

The artworks included in this indexing are illustrative of the wide variety of methods developed by artists and artist organisations in their ambition to engage with audiences and communities of people in a constructive dialogue concerning the future of digital technologies. Many of the artworks dealing with the digital transformation explore artistic uses of a given technology while also investigating specific cultural and social impacts of the technological changes we are experiencing today.

One such approach is the creation of installations for exhibitions, both indoors and outdoors, which mix the use of digital and analogue technologies. In these artworks the participatory process often includes the use of electronic and digital components in a two-way relationship, demonstrating not only the possible artistic uses of technology but also reflecting on itself. Another approach we evidence here in our mapping is that of participatory artistic performances. The performances included in this report highlight an important aspect of socially engaged art in demonstrating the typically ephemeral nature of such work. Unlike artworks that can last longer over time, socially engaged art is rooted in the involvement of participants, either directly or through digital devices.

Another set of examples of artworks indexed here includes the work of artists who use online platforms to strengthen social networks within their communities. These artists focus on issues that mix digital and social aspects, and the platforms they develop are the outcome of constant feedback from interactions between the artists and the participants.

In sum, this report introduces artists who involve their audiences and participants in the creation of the artwork as a means of building bridges between people and ongoing debates about the impacts of the digital transformation, including various forms of artistic organisations working to create more diverse, democratic and equal digital futures.

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Mapping of Arts Integration within Enterprise

This report provides a cross-sectional mapping of Arts integration within enterprises and organisations that relate to the digital transformation, in contemporary and emerging contexts, across Europe and beyond. This mapping indexes engagements between the Arts and enterprise across the three categories – Residing, Consulting and Embedding.

Through the mapping process in this report, we observe how artist practices are gaining more interest from enterprises and technical institutions, particularly over the past five years. This indicates that there is a growing number of enterprises and organisations who want to leverage artist practices in the development of digital technologies and applications. Furthermore, we can see that there is a wide variety of strategic goals from the perspective of enterprises for initiating these engagements, ranging from widening the perspectives of engineers to implicitly addressing social, economic or political issues, to using artists to leverage improved public relations.

The recent influx of artist in residence programmes may be driven, in part, by the increasing urgency of issues such as algorithmic bias, data privacy, disinformation as well as larger movements towards addressing the wider ethical, socio-political and environmental implications of the digital transformation. At the same time, there seems to be a growing recognition among enterprise and technology development leaders, that artists and creative strategies are beneficial in terms of critiquing underlying presumptions about the relative value of outputs and diversifying future project developments. We also see a marked increase in the number of residencies as focused on specific types of technological developments such as machine learning and artificial intelligence. Finally, while Artist engagements are increasing on a whole, there were some notable exceptions in the major technology companies including Amazon and Apple.

Download the report >>