The Serpentine’s Research and Development Platform is a space where the institution’s ‘back-end’ (operations, protocols, in-built values) and ‘front-end’ (what it produces) are brought into experimental realignments. In today’s environment of hyper-production and accelerated change, arts organisations are in need of a reflexive space that allows for thoughtful and conscious advancement.
Historically, art has frequently taken the form of social risk-taking and thus an undercover engine of ‘innovation’, — presenting a distinctly different paradigm for innovation to the fields of science and technology. Meanwhile, the importance of arts organisations as scalable sites for dedicated artist-led research and development is only now becoming apparent.
The R&D Platform at the Serpentine grows organically from the organisation’s long-standing commitment to advancing new forms of cultural production. The R&D Platform is built on inter-operable modules that manifest themselves in capacity-building workshops for the wider sector, round-tables and summits bringing experts from different fields to develop an art-field specific view on innovation, and precedent-setting artworks that challenge conceptions of what art is and where the boundaries of art’s impact lie.
Some of the questions guiding the development of the R&D Platform include:
- How can art institutions become better at identifying and harnessing their evolving capabilities?
- What will the core values of cultural production be in 2050?
- How can greater focus on infrastructural care and design help build a more resilient and socially significant cultural field?
- What can the full stack of contemporary artistic production (i.e. all stages of a project’s development) teach arts organisations and other fields about innovation?
- What new organisational processes would be required for the art field to develop more meaningful and long-term relationships with other fields invested in seeking answers to today’s most challenging questions?
- How does the art field claim an active position in shaping future technologies that yield significant impact on contemporary and future societies?