Nutational Follies 2017, Dancer Eugene Choi, photography by Zak Arnot
Nutational Follies, 2017, Dancer Eugene Cho (image credit: Zak Arnot)
Stories & Ideas

Tue 14 Feb 2023

Strategic Change: Future art and creative ecosystems

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Victoria Ivanova from Serpentine Galleries' R&D Labs speaks about her three years of work researching and writing the trilogy of Future Art Ecosystems reports.

These reports cross artform and practice boundaries and are aimed at creating a common language for artists, technologists, and institutions so that they can find ways to work together.

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Okay, well thanks so much for coming out this early to listen to what might be quite an intense deep dive into a new way of imagining a language to talk about infrastructural development related to art and advanced technologies. So first of all thanks a lot to Seb and the wonderful ACMI team for the invitation. It's quite an undertaking to come here all the way from London but it was absolutely worth it, an incredible day yesterday and I look forward to seeing how things evolve. I also look forward to hearing comments to my presentations so unlike yesterday I'm very happy to just have comments without questions and to hopefully also respond to your feedback.

So as has been said I'm currently R&D strategic lead at Serpentine which is a contemporary art organization, public contemporary art organization in London and since 2018 we have been developing what is now known as the Future Art Ecosystems project and it's a project for building 21st century cultural infrastructure. Important to note that although it's a project that was initiated by Serpentine it was very much a response to the Arts Council England mandate for Serpentine to kind of lead on thought leadership I guess around questions of infrastructural development in art and technology. So although it was initiated by Serpentine and it is still currently hosted by Serpentine it is a project that's meant to address the ecosystem and also eventually become an ecosystem owned project. So what is Future Art Ecosystems? So far since I guess the first publication 2020 it has been an annual strategic briefing that is meant to provide concepts, references, language and arguments that can be integrated into operational agendas for 21st century culture infrastructure. What do we mean when we say 21st century culture infrastructure? What we mean are the systems that support the production, distribution and financialization of art and advanced technologies as a whole and respond to a broader societal agenda. And it's critical to say that Fay was conceptualized with our dear colleagues at Rival Strategy. So I just wanted to kind of talk very briefly about what motivated this project. So there are really two key reasons for why we thought Future Art Ecosystems could be an interesting contribution to the conversation around organizational development in the art space. Around kind of 2018 it became obvious that what has historically been a very kind of niche, let's say part of the art space, the art technology niche, was becoming increasingly more mainstream. More institutions were opening up art and technology programs. There was a greater kind of I guess emphasis on technology driven work by artists, you know and just I guess general expectations of audiences as well, that technology is a space where cultural production needs to intervene. It was also kind of a key motivation factor in posing this question, you know, what transformations are required by this kind of historical niche becoming much more of a mainstream activity within the institutional space. What was apparent however was that there was a very very little kind of understanding of the specific needs that art and technology artistic practices, of the needs of the art and technology artistic practices and how institutions should be responding to those needs. And so the Future Art Ecosystems project really started out as a research project that tried to get a collective picture, kind of a systemic picture, of how we could talk about these needs in a much more I guess macro way and in reference to the sector as a whole, rather than you know approaching each individual project as something that exists in a kind of fragmented and sort of individual way. The second motivation is perhaps like even you know the more important motivation and it has to do with the fact that art and advanced technologies can offer a context for interrogating and reimagining technology as a social and creative medium in societies where development is largely driven or technological development is largely driven by interests of commerce and control. And this connects very much the point that Seb made yesterday about how do we need to reimagine what does it mean to have a public mission as a cultural institution in 21st century when we understand that the socio-technical infrastructure within our societies is transforming. So if we want to support ambitious artistic practice in art and advanced technologies, how do our institutions and infrastructures need to readjust and reform? And so Faye is a project that tries to answer that question in an iterative way and hopefully also in a kind of collective way. Now this strategic briefing format also needs to be explained and you know I think historically there have been very few, let's say, attempts from inside the public institutional space to understand how the art infrastructure functions on an ecosystemic level. So most, let's say, macro images of the art system that we have, they tend to come from the financial space. If we think about like art basal market reports that create kind of a macro picture of how the art field looks and by creating that picture they in some ways sort of also project a certain reality which becomes in some ways either inevitable or needs to be reckoned with by the actors within that field. So whether the nano strategic briefing that is put out by a public arts institution is an interesting kind of challenge to the practices of the art market in the sense that the interests that are being put forward here and that are being advocated for are interests of the general public and also interests of artists and public arts institutions. So so far we have published three briefings and it's important to kind of note that each briefing emerges as a response to a previous one. So with the first publication, we started the research in 2018, we published it in 2020. The focus was really on trying to charter the territory for investigation and to really understand what is the infrastructural space of art and advanced technologies. Who are the key players? What are the key ways in which this space is being shaped? After this initial kind of interrogation of the space, we got some conclusions and I will share these conclusions with you in a few moments. And through these conclusions, we then decided to focus on the question of digital transformation as it relates to the increasing normalization of advanced virtual environments within our kind of social spaces. And so that's volume two, Art and Metaverse, which tries to kind of redefine what digital strategy means with the advent of advanced digital environments and to pose the question as to how art institutions should position themselves within this increasingly more technologically complex and you know potentially kind of also problematic space from a governance democratic perspective. And the final publication that came out just recently in November, focus on decentralized technologies and the possibilities of decentralized technologies to offer primers for self-organized institution building. So on the one hand, we kind of we wanted to steer clear of, not necessarily steer clear, but we wanted to sort of shift the conversation I guess from the focus on NFTs to conversation on organizational development, infrastructure building and governance. And that's actually the most interesting long-term lessons from the decentralized technology space might have to do more with practices of organization and sort of imaginaries of ecosystem building, then they have to do with like very specific financialized mechanisms for art such as NFTs. And maybe there's like you know something important to note around why we have used these very kind of hyped up terms such as advanced technologies, metaverse, decentralized tech. And there was a very kind of clear motivation in that regard and that motivation was to take these sort of concepts that are having a lot of traction and circulation in society and instead of saying that institutions need to catch up or they need to sort of you know become relevant within these spaces to try to sketch out kind of a grounding, a configuration of starting points through which we can have greater agency in relationship to these emerging phenomena and also perhaps develop a more kind of strategic approach to how these large phenomena can impact our individual organizations. But I would like to sort of go back a little bit to how Future Art Ecosystems started because it's very much I guess embroiled within the larger process of digital transformation, you know a word that we a term that we used a lot yesterday at Serpentine and the kind of internal reconfigurations that happened there since 2018. So when I first kind of started at Serpentine in 2018, we at that point the organization was it was focusing on commissioning artists to work with advanced technologies as a medium, as a topic of interrogation and what became evident to the team at that point is that the commissioning process was a fascinating way to engage with artists but it also threw up a lot of questions around sustainability of that kind of institutional approach to advanced technology and so that and that ultimately the questions that the commissioning process posed they didn't really have a space within the institution to be further explored and developed as propositions for the ecosystem at large, for the sector or for society. So it became apparent that what was required in addition to the commissioning process was this reflexive space that could nurture experimentation and risk-taking and that space could not remain purely symbolic or discursive and it had to be reflected in the daily operation or an organizational structures that were equally new and experimental for the art context. And as I said previously the Arts Technologies Program which was then interestingly called Digital, it initiates and support artists in developing ambitious artworks that deploy advanced technologies as a medium tool or topic often operating beyond gallery walls. And the reconfiguration that happened through trying to understand what is the organizational design that would need to be implemented in order for that reflexive space to take root within the organization, so the consequence of that has been the foundation and emergence of the R&D platform within the Arts and Technologies Program. So right now I guess they're kind of two sides of the coin. There is the commissioning side and then there is the R&D platform side and the R&D platform side is what supports the development of infrastructures for ongoing artistic exploration, interrogation of advanced and emerging technologies. And so that's kind of the breakdown of how this transformation looks. So effectively with the commissioning process the institutional approach to working with artists and advanced technologies was quite thin, right? So commissioning was the format, the vehicle through which that interaction happened. And once we started redesigning the organizational parameters internally we wanted to create greater depth within the institution but also to create a much bigger kind of networking out effect that would blur the boundaries between the institutional internal space and the external, let's say the external network and greater ecosystem. So within commissioning we have this slightly more layered approach than existed previously and I guess for you for people working in institutions perhaps this might resonate in the sense that in order to like develop a set of new operational processes that are seen by the institution you kind of need to name them. So when commissioning exists it's just a lumped approach to working with an artist that is given a particular timeline, a particular budget, you know, and off you go. Once we've introduced artist-led R&D as something that precedes commissioning it invited a very different logic of understanding how we work with artists who work with advanced technologies and you know making an argument for the fact that we can't really jump into commissioning process the way that we could have let's say before with other types of art. There needs to be this preliminary phase of artist-led R&D. So that's what happens now. And then there's the public interface part which is also kind of I guess disintermediated from this general concept of commissioning and for a very important reason because we need to understand public interface in a multitude of ways. It can happen within the gallery space but it can also happen in any other kind of part or developmental trajectory of the project. And actually thinking about these three phases or at least the public interface phase in relationship to artist-led R&D and commissioning in a non kind of teleological sequential way becomes incredibly important and perhaps slightly like a different way for organizations to think how does the public come in to the process of commissioning, interacting with the process of artistic production, with you know the various questions this artistic production throws up etc. At the same time as I said the kind of the bigger reconfiguration that happened through this process of digital transformation was the institution of the R&D platform. The R&D platform is that kind of chunk in the middle which has a number which labs that are dedicated to very specific topics and these topics emerged as areas of interest through the commissioning process. So what we decided would be important to do is to use the commissioning process as something that informs areas of strategic developmental importance as it relates to specific technologies or to specific infrastructures like for example the legal lab. But these labs exist separately to commissioning and they also operate separately. They have their own methodologies, they are led by external principal investigators, they kind of operate through a much more networked out kind of collective intelligence approach and they have relatively loose relationship to the left side of the department. But we do try to keep you know the two sides informed and there's definitely feedback but we could also kind of, full disclosure, we're also kind of reviewing the ways in which this feedback occurs. Which I guess leads this like really interesting point around I think that was made yesterday by Jane that digital transformation is not like a one-step solution. It's something it's like it's a project that you commit yourself and you lose the term digital and you just stick with the term transformational and you realize that it's not so much about the digital as it is about you know the approach that you have as a department, as an organization, about the evolution of your work in relationship to larger socio-technical systems. So if the R&D platform and the commissioning are kind of leaning towards the institution's centered side of the spectrum of our work, future ecosystems sort of leans towards the ecosystems focused side of our work. And it is produced through interviews with peers or external. There are some lessons that are drawn from internal work but we try to keep let's say the research and the analysis as Serpentine independent as possible. Of course there are tensions and problems around that as well and we're currently in the process of like rethinking the governance structure for future ecosystems, how decisions are made in order to reflect this more ecosystems focused approach. But at least at the intention or the understanding of this future ecosystems project within the institution it is something that sits sort of autonomously and doesn't necessarily represent the interests of the organization. It is much more focused on this kind of ecosystemic design principle. Moving forwards, so when we try to sketch out the roadmap or at least the problematic space that we're targeting with future ecosystems, and this is 2018, we came up with this AB list together with Marta Ferreira de Sa and Benedict Singleton of Rival Strategy. And you know these are kind of the key let's say conditions that we wanted future art ecosystems to have an impact on. So singular art world, problematic, you know transnational contemporary art regime kind of problematic in terms of its marginizing way of functioning and kind of ultimately stifling innovation and diversification. So emergence of planetary system of art worlds was the thing that would be advocating for with future ecosystems. Structural contradictions between art world and art industry and this is to say that you know art world from a position of let's say ethical political stances tends to be on the progressive side. When you look at the art industry practices there are some of the most predatory kind of neoliberal financialized practices that you can find. So there's clearly a problem and a contradiction there that is very difficult to kind of resolve in a very direct way. Instead what we propose with future ecosystems was how do we I guess through the creation of greater diversity and interdependence between different art worlds, how do we develop autonomous objectives and mechanisms for specific types of projects that can have greater alignment between what they're say they're doing and how they're doing it. Formerly present micro scale lands on macro scale issues this is just basically to say that there is a lot of critical commentary on various critical societal conditions and this is definitely the case within the tech within let's say technology critical technology art and we wanted to understand how could we instead of just doing critique on the technological condition how could art generate mesopolitical collective activity meaning how could it actually intervene into space of technological development or at least narrativization of technologies that could have wider societal impact and we saw that as a really infrastructural organizational question rather than simply kind of a cultural political one. I'm not going to go through all of them I guess maybe the one that's kind of important to quickly go over is reform revolution and you know I think that's that's that's generally how we think about change or transformation in the art field. You know do we like reform certain functions of it or do we just blow the whole thing up right now we heard that conversation yesterday in relationship to copyright and you know the underlying kind of capitalistic structures that drive that particular practice you know and it's something similar I guess could be said about the art industry is it worth reforming it or do we just completely get rid of it and build something new and the approach that future ecosystems takes is that we ultimately do need some kind of ground in which to sow the potentials for the future and that ground needs to be sown within our existing institutional contexts however we do hope that these existing institutional contexts are you know the aim of that is not to just reproduce the existing institutional context but to actually allow them to become the grounds of which further forking can happen and this planetary system of art worlds could emerge. So future art ecosystems one as I mentioned in the beginning this was really like a landscaping exercise where we tried to find the key coordinates of what the space is from an infrastructural approach and to start developing this kind of new language. Now full disclosure there are a lot of heated opinions about the new language stuff and it's a very polarizing issues. Some people love it because I think it is really important to invent a new language if you want to start practicing in a different way. Other people find it really alienating completely illegible and think it's actually a problem you know we could have a lengthy discussion about this perhaps this is something for the conversation after I finish the talk but in sketching out as I said the needs of our practitioners who engage with advanced technologies we wanted to like dissect the different ways in which these types of practices require a very different setup on individual level but also require a very different approach by institutions towards them. So the areas you know that we wanted to dissect were dynamic materials how the how is advanced technologies as a set of dynamic materials and also you know important to note caveat that this kind of phrase advanced technologies might actually not be that helpful but it's like it's it's a big bucket and you know it involves everything from machine learning to synthetic biology and to blockchain so the heterogeneity of materials within this kind of bucket poses the question as to how useful the bucket is but I think the bucket is useful insofar as all of these technologies whether it's machine learning or blockchain they're dynamic materials and the dynamics of these materials means that the way that artists work with them is very different to how most institutions conceive of artists working with materials within studio practices and one of the consequences of the way the artists work with dynamic materials is that they need to develop extensive networks of specialists who are able to you know be their teams in working with these highly complex materials and in kind of becoming ultimately co-authors or at least stewards within this work. In the process of that in the process of a construction of this transdisciplinary and transsectorial teams what happens is new narratives are constructed and this new kind of construction of narratives is what I alluded to in the beginning as a really important feature of why we need to support art and advanced technologies in the public sector because it is really the only space where the narrative construction can really differ from the narrative construction that happens through commercial markets or through you know specific political predatory projects. What our research also revealed is that because of the let's say know-how that's required to work with advanced technologies and to develop networks within those spaces artists who are successful within those spaces tend to be to have success in adjacent fields. This means that usually they will have backgrounds in you know in technological development they could be gamer they could have worked in gaming industry there might be architects or designers or scientists and so this poses kind of a question about art school as a key infrastructure that prepares artists for for yeah the future of their professions and careers and whether that infrastructure is kind of currently supporting artists in a particularly productive way in order for them to enter into this space. And when we looked so when we mapped out these kind of needs we then posed the question what kind of infrastructural provision exists currently to cater to these needs and the first answer that we had to put out was that the art industry is entirely incapable of supporting these needs as it stands and so as a result most artists they tend to develop what we've called infrastructural plays which is sort of ad hoc kind of situational infrastructures that support their own artistic practice. This means that there are only very few people who can really make it in this field because this acquires a high level of know-how high level of professionalism high level of connectedness and you know also the possibility to finance this type of practice. So what could be the strategies for an art industrial revolution where the industry is reformed in a significant way or in a sufficiently significant way to actually be able to provide a foundation for these types of practices. And so here in this kind of two-by-two we kind of sketched out what we feel is the state of play so to speak or as I said this kind of landscape of infrastructural reality. So in the top in the bottom left corner we have the status quo and the status quo is that the art industry is unable to provide support to art and advanced technology practices and instead needs to kind of outsource or rely on tech industry as art patron that kind of either supports this type of work on a kind of sponsorship financial level or supports this work through new infrastructures that are being built within those tech companies. So the emergence of various art programs at Google at Facebook Meta although Meta has shut down recently Open Arts, Hyundai you know you name it there there have been so many of them that have sprung up in the last eight years. So that that's kind of one stilt that is deployed as an infrastructural stilt to make up for a lack of proper provision within the art sector. The other kind of interesting development that we noticed is that within art practices that are able to sort of cobble together these infrastructural plays in order to create a sufficient foundation for art for themselves to practice in a sustainable way. The ultimate form of that kind of ladders up to what we call the art stack and it's basically a vertically integrated studio that produces its own technology, develops its own IP, has employees highly a technically proficient staff, controls the distribution mechanisms so it's really kind of like a highly professionalized business model. The kind of typical example of an art stack is TeamLab also if you're aware of the artist Rafik Anadol so the kind of the way that they practice or the way they've established their work is a good example of what an art stack is. Now the problem with art stacks is that in theory well that's not the problem the thing is art stacks potentially present an interesting way for institutions to also kind of digitally transform in a sufficiently sophisticated way but they're highly kind of proprietary project-based systems and so the question is like do we really want public arts institutions to become more like art stacks and this is where the kind of future art ecosystems I guess you know ideological orientation makes itself visible where we're like no this is not really a good way forwards. What it will produce is a typical oligopolistic market where we have a few really big art stack institutions that kind of control the way that art and advanced technologies field is evolving and are really kind of setting the tone for the development of the space and attracting all of the resources. So instead we position that what we need is a 21st century cultural infrastructure that is publicly accountable and that's where we leave future ecosystems one where we're like well we kind of map this out we saw the problem zone and this is the thing that needs to be developed. Now moving to future ecosystems two so this was researched and produced during the pandemic so that's already really interesting kind of backdrop condition to how we were thinking about 21st century cultural infrastructure and what would be required to develop it and this is where we decided to focus on the metaverse for two reasons. So the first reason was you know within that kind of period 2020-2021 there was a lot of investment going into gaming technologies and the game engine really emerged this key technological protagonist of what could potentially ladder up to planetary scale computational system of a kind of simulated metaverse world. Of course a lot of it you know there was as much hype as there was kind of reality to these ambitions and we see that now where a lot of these metaverse projects have been you know there's been very little talk about metaverse recently and I think that kind of shows how that particular period was very much aligned with a kind of a speculation bubble which may may not kind of manifest in specific technological advancements but in any case what became evident is that what we termed advanced virtual environments whether they become metaverse spaces or not are kind of a staying condition of our digital realities and so the question that we posed was like how do we approach digital strategy if we understand advanced virtual environments to be kind of a key building block of the way that reality operates and I think you know we were very wary of not alienating organizations that actually don't really care about the metaverse but at the same time they are organizations that are part of the larger kind of social technical infrastructure of our societies so there's this kind of strange condition where on the one hand some of these questions are not relevant yet you're still within kind of the economy of a society that that where this phenomena is a reality so our question was like to ourselves was like how do we formulate a digital strategy approach that can be sufficiently flexible malleable and modular that different organizations can get on board on it with it and populate it with their own understandings of that concept and so we came up with the idea of UX of art a user experience of art which tried to get out of this physical digital dichotomy and instead focus on the on the production of the experience of art either with working with artists or with communities and the need to start from that experience as what informs digital strategy or organizational strategy and then think about the tooling for that rather than starting from the tooling and then thinking how do we remain relevant by integrating this tooling or being present within fortnight or whatever else so we also gave examples kind of art adjacent spaces where it seemed there has been kind of a much better negotiation or kind of integrated approach into thinking about the role of advanced virtual environments in relationship to these spaces namely obviously games technologies but also architecture and in that stage you know there was various experimentation around blockchain and metaverse so on the left hand side this is the transition that I was talking about getting out of this dichotomy between physical and digital which is the white cube model where the kind of the the aim of digital strategy is to mirror physical activity and to shift towards like a different conceptual frame which is the UX award that also necessitates a rethinking of what the curatorial process is actually about so rather than kind of focusing on presented objects as unique and finalized it's focusing on the experiences which might also be iterated in the course of you know their interaction with the public now the the within the standard white cube model we understand this kind of objects are presented to a general anonymous viewership but if we're starting out from the experience of art as the foundation it means we really need to understand who are our users and who are our stakeholders right so this kind of invites a much more I guess nuanced approach to how we understand our stakeholder groups to be and it goes even beyond the typical kind of audience segmentation strategies that are used by marketing communications departments arts institutions and really kind of asks the organization the question who which communities are you serving and these communities can be actually not just external communities they are also importantly internal communities so the people who work in the organization they're the artists with whom the organization works they're actually potentially the funders as well of the organization what's the relationship you know what's the relationship there and so how do we make the UX of art like a really tight core that informs every single part of the way that we structure these relationships with different stakeholders and I guess in terms of the physical kind of environment you know with COVID we understood that this overemphasis or like over identification of cultural institutions with their physical spaces is both a blessing and a curse right on the one hand it can it creates connections to local communities you know it creates a sense of space on the other hand you know it forces institutions to complete identity crisis when situations like COVID-19 happen so then the question is like how do we reimagine what that cultural institutional identity is and how do we develop meaningful relationships with our communities and audiences even when we don't have this brick-and-mortar space as the core or the Sun around which our thinking about our identity revolves and the UX of art approach proposes that it's ultimately a question like deeper integration with either artistic production processes meaning this is kind of going back to this sort of R&D side of things meaning that the value that at least cultural organization that work with artists to produce new work bring is that they're working with artists to create this new work and this new work unique does not yeah sure it's great to have a public space within which you show it but if the ultimate mission is to work with artists to create the new work how can we put greater resources towards that and think about distribution of public interface in more creative ways or you know in ways that sort of depart from standard envelope solution of showing things and within the brick-and-mortar institution on the right hand side is sort of a layered I guess kind of specification of what it would mean to engage like really meaningfully and in depth away with the infrastructural confrontation of that say the metaverse condition and the sort of full stack approach kind of shows how the individual digital strategy with institutions is fully kind of it's in its it's fully integrated or interdependent with so many other infrastructural and policy decisions and economies and markets that it's hard to like it would be delusional to think that the individual strategy could have some kind of impact in this very kind of complex infrastructural space so instead what we propose is to think less individually about digital strategy and to so this is the point that I made yesterday for those of you who were here to think more ecosystemically and to really kind of understand who are our peers who are the other organizations either within the art space outside of the art space with whom were aligned around our mission and around our key stakeholders and who would be let's say our kind of allies in a more interoperable digital strategy that can cross-pollinate and cross-integrate functions where each institution ultimately becomes a building block of something larger a larger proposition to the general public or to the specific users that these specific entities are yeah have their missions to deliver value to and the kind of I guess you know with future ecosystems one the the the leave-off point was like what is 21st century cultural infrastructure is publicly accountable with future ecosystems to we answer that question by saying there are various vectors for the project of constructing 21st century cultural infrastructure that need to be taken into account if we're to take this project seriously and as I mentioned interoperability is one advanced advanced production capabilities is two as becomes obvious from that stack that I showed previously expanded approaches to economies of economics of distribution basically fancy way of saying we need to rethink the economic and ownership models that exist within the cultural space and then understanding kind of users as stakeholders problematic language but I guess it's just it's the only language that is specific enough to say that we shouldn't just think about our audiences on the receiving end and what metaverse really with the kind of metaverse conversation or advanced virtual environments or digital conversation how we want to call it really kind of throws at us is that the broadcast model is kind of over and so if we wanted to develop a model for engaging with our publics in a way that still is true to our institution and Jane mentioned yesterday you know this kind of question of the fear that institutions have on like delegating agency over decision-making to their audiences and publics but if we consider our audience and publics and our users as stakeholders of the very processes that drive our organizational work it means that we can form more nuanced and more sophisticated and long-term relationships with them but none of this work can really happen if the only measure by which we have to measure the success of organizations is footfall or number of clicks online and I don't know what the state is you know in this country but that's definitely still the case for the UK where ultimately you know when it comes to fundraising when it comes to justifying the value that we as an institution bring to society these are the measures that really kind of are meant to communicate the value that we're bringing to society so new systems of measurement is the absolutely pivotal space of transformation within policy but also within individual organizations if we want to have you know truly meaningful transformation of our organizations so finally future ecosystems three which is the final in trilogy and also I guess you know I'll speak about in a few moments it kind of concludes this phase of the future ecosystems project focuses on decentralized technologies and we once again took a similar position the way that we the way we approached the kind of metaverse conversation is on the one hand we kind of wanted to leverage the hype bandwagon of what was happening you know in terms of public attention to this space on the other hand we wanted to create a completely different set of reference points when it came to talking about the space then we're currently in circulation because you know if we think about what's the first thing that people think about when they think about decentralized technologies a crypto think NFTs you know they think speculative markets financialization of art etc so we wanted to shift away from that and rather focus so the way that we focus on metaverse on the kind of game engine as a key technological protagonist that is creating a different cultural context and different infrastructural set of possibilities here kind of our key protagonist was the smart contract and understanding the smart contract as like a really important cultural shift in the way that we approach infrastructure and that it does something quite fundamental to how we think about structural relationships between entities and actors and how we're accountable for these relationships in the long term and also what decision-making and governance experiments could be possible through this technology as a backbone I mean you can't put everything on chain this is a complete delusion but as a sort of provocation around the foundational logics of organization the smart contract is a really is a really powerful yeah powerful tool and symbol so what we did with future ecosystems three is we kind of dissected or the decentralized tech space and try to find kind of primitives and new patterns for 21st century cultural infrastructure where effectively the kind of experimental aspect of the blockchain space could give us some interesting insight about building new organizations or building new forms of interoperable protocols within the existing art space we did not shy away from critique within this specific publication generally we kind of we try not to get into let's say the kind of cultural critical conversation in future ecosystems because there are a lot of other spaces for it but here you know we had to kind of point to the obvious pink elephants in the room when it comes to the centralized technology space namely that you know still kind of governance and financialization are really tightly entwined within that space and that's a problem and that's something that really needs to be resolved if this is going to serve some kind of publicly valuable infrastructural proposition then there's a clear question of the legal durability of a lot of these structures and how they interface with like mainstream legal structures and finally you know how public value is actually articulated and defined within that space but you know being optimists also we thought that what's really interesting about using the cultural space as a use case for kind of for for decentralized technologies is that we can try to answer a lot of these questions through organizational experimentation I will talk about one specific project in a few moments that tries to do that so our proposals kind of leading out of that publications are all about interoperability and about you know as I said the idea of weaving together new ways of connecting different organizations different you know time specific projects in order to offer better infrastructure for advanced technologies and so the three pathways that we kind of identify are this kind of continuous service architecture where ultimately you know the the possibilities of the art space to be a really productive and generative space of art and that's all there what it lacks is like the connecting up of the value chains that are able to fund new infrastructural development for this work so there is there's that area work then there's a distributed ownership part and you know that that is super interesting because what I think the blockchain space also does it's sort of points to the fact that the institution of ownership exclusive ownership is a very time specific and you know and as we heard yesterday when Mimi was sort of talking about in their archival talk about the possibility of about the fact that you know archives like in some ways it's such a Western phenomenon because we love to hold on to stuff and we love for that stuff to accumulate in value as capital and there are cultures within which actually entropy is you know the valued approach to continuity or to passing on possibilities and opening up space for something new to emerge so similar with ownership you know there's no reason why ownership cannot be reconfigured or at least cannot be assessed for what for its different component parts and become a vehicle for aiding greater interoperability within the cultural sector and that kind of leads to a much more modular approach to infrastructure building so you know so yesterday I made a comment about the fact that perhaps infrastructure building in this case it's not like building late railroads and I think that that's like a really important also potentially you know some people might disagree a controversial way of approaching infrastructure building in relation to our advanced technologies that it's kind of too high risk for the cultural sector to build railroads for art and advanced technologies we do however need to build modules that provide agency for this space but these modules cannot be developed through exclusive ownership by individual organizations because then we're back into the art stack proposition and the problems of proprietary models so how do we achieve this kind of construction of modular infrastructure that is commonly owned but also understands the kind of lessons of the tragedy of the Commons also is kind of sober about the political and economic realities within which we operate and that's a big question and that's the question that in many ways animates the future of future art ecosystems after these three publications so I guess the kind of most recent wave of decentralized experiments yield tools and insights into composable and polycentric forms of organization institutional building with cultural political and financial durability that's sort of the question that we're posing and that we will be investigating through further strategic briefings but they will be much more oriented towards this question and through actual kind of infrastructure experimentation so that's the pivot and I'll give you just an example of a project that we're working on now that tries to kind of manifest this vision for actually building and experimenting with infrastructure you know rather than just focusing on the strategic elements of yeah of what Faye has done so far so yeah I wanted to introduce partial kind of Kilman ownership as a relational approach the institution of ownership in art this is a project that we are collaborating on with an organization called radical exchange it's an organization that's well it's actually a movement for next generation political economies that was born out of a book called radical markets by Glenn vile and in many ways the mechanisms that that book and also the organization radical exchange works on they sort of leverage the the mainstreamization of the decentralized technology space but they're oriented towards traditional structures so they don't rely on blockchain or they don't rely on any specific technology although smart contracts would be a good way of implementing and enforcing these types of these models of ownership so what we're trying to figure out right now is you know in traditional ownership there is this idea of ownership being permanent and stagnant and value gains concentrating in very few hands and this is you know the case for owning artworks as it is for owning projects by individual institutions right so there is kind of a symmetry there between the market practices and institutional practices within partial common ownership there's the idea that ownership needs to be a dynamic and potentially kind of changeable value relation as a sorry possession relation and that's you know that and that that's kind of going on building on I guess the market conditions of the possibility of re auctioning assets in order to increase liquidity within a space and with partial common ownership basically what happens is that every so often an asset or a project is kind of re auctioned in order to generate well in order to generate a fee for the original producers who may be artists but can also be communities or networks that are associated with the development of their original work and if the work is resold it passes kind of hands to the new owner the new owner is obliged to do exactly the same within the same period of time and so there's the kind of resale royalty aspect to it but there is but there is also the sort of idea of a relationship being structured between the possessor of the artwork and the community that has developed the artwork and that's a very different way of understanding the role of ownership and institution of ownership within the cultural space to the one that we currently have and so we're working on this project with radical exchange as you can see it's still very rural we're trying to figure out what kind of infrastructure would be required to make this a reality and we're actually holding a workshop on the 23rd of February if anybody wants to join please do will be deliberation workshop that we'll be doing online so I'll finish up here this is the report you can also sign up to our newsletter we run events with the community calls with a lot of knowledge sharing so yes please it'd be lovely to be in touch and yeah I look forward to your comments thank you