Future Art Ecosystems (FAE) is an annual strategic briefing that provides analytical and conceptual tools for the construction of 21st-century cultural infrastructure: the systems that support art and advanced technologies as a whole, and respond to a broader societal agenda. The series was conceptualised by Serpentine R&D Platform in collaboration with Rival Strategy.
FAE3: Art x Decentralised Tech
The third issue of FAE, Future Art Ecosystems 3 (FAE3) will be live from 25 November 2022 and an interactive launch presentation will be streamed via Serpentine Twitch (@Serpentine) from 20:00 GMT. FAE3 addresses the possibilities for a more interoperable (i.e. cross-organisationally integrated) vision for 21st century cultural infrastructure.
Future Art Ecosystems (FAE) annual strategic briefing series was born out of a need to inform organisational development in the arts, and specifically around ecosystem design for art and advanced technologies (AxAT). While there is a rich dialogue around art’s critical interventions into contemporary technologies such as AI, blockchain and immersive technologies, and their mainstream narratives, a dedicated focus on operational and infrastructural conditions for supporting and developing AxAT has been largely lacking.
FAE3 identifies new patterns for organisational and creative innovation within the broader space of decentralised technologies, variably dubbed as ‘web3’, ‘crypto’ and ‘dweb’. Through a series of interviews with specialists across art, web3, crypto, dweb, innovation policy and civic, the briefing articulates various horizons for reconfiguring how practitioners and the cultural sector at large can operationalise production, distribution and financial support systems. FAE3 formulates a series of prospective strategies for existing and new cultural organisations interested in AxAT and the latter’s role in supporting resilient democratic societies.
FAE3 is produced in collaboration with Gary Zhexi Zhang, with contributions by Harm van den Dorpel and Sarah Friend. We thank our advisors Seb Chan, Maria Paula Fernandez, Aslak Aamot Helm, Sophie Netchaef, Katrina Sluis, and Rival Strategy.
FAE2: Art x Metaverse (Download here)
The advent of the metaverse—an always-online ‘second’ world and emerging internet megastructure—represents a fundamental shift in our notion of digital systems and physical presence. In this context, FAE2 outlines what is required from 21st century cultural infrastructure in order to shape the metaverse’s evolution.
Engaging with over fifty practitioners and organisations across art, film, gaming, technology and wider cultural industries, FAE2 articulates the challenges and opportunities that institutions face in this landscape. Contributors to FAE2 include artists Larry Achiampong, David Blandy, Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley, Joey Holder, Rindon Johnson, Keiken; Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of UKIE; Andie Nordgren, Producer and Director of Unity Live Platforms; Lucy Sollitt, Curator; Jay-Ann Lopez, Founder of Black Girl Gamers; Trevor McFedries, Co-founder of Brud; Kadine James and Lucy Wheeler, Founders of Immersive Kind; Gabrielle Jenks, Digital Director, Manchester International Festival and many more.
The strategic briefing is organised into three chapters. Chapter 1 explores user experience of art (UXA) as a model for reassessing the key touchstones of cultural institutions’ digital strategy with the advent of advanced virtual environments—digitally produced 3D spaces. Chapter 2 surveys the emergence of ‘metaverse-native’ art in art-adjacent fields such as gaming, blockchain, film and architecture as a result of their openness to developing new skills, proficiencies and business models around emerging technologies.
As a planetary-scale infrastructural project, the metaverse represents a challenge to cultural institutions’ role as public interest organisations. Cultural institutions can only continue to fulfil this role if they are advocating for and contributing to the construction of an open and accountable 21st-century cultural infrastructure. Chapter 3 proposes a set of vectors for a sector-wide effort to take active steps in that direction, which include:
- Greater interoperability between cultural institutions as well as with art adjacent fields;
- Investment in advanced production capabilities;
- Recognising and supporting expanded economic and distribution rationales;
- Harnessing new proficiencies that propel deeper engagement with users-as-stakeholders;
- Devising new systems of measurement.
FAE1: Art x Advanced Technologies (July 2020)
The inaugural issue of FAE focused on the new infrastructures being built around artistic practices engaging with advanced technologies. The view presented was based on the Serpentine’s experience and desire to share insights from working with artists including Hito Steyerl, James Bridle, Cécile B. Evans, Ian Cheng and Jakob Kudsk Steensen, ongoing conversations across broader networks, and insights derived from a series of interviews conducted with artists Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Holly Herndon, Rebecca Allen and Refik Anadol; Ece Tankal and Carmen Aguilar y Wedge of Hyphen-Labs; journalist and technologist Jonathan Ledgard; Julia Kaganskiy, founding director NEW Inc; Kenric McDowell from the Artists + Machine Intelligence programme at Google Research; Liz Rosenthal, Power to the Pixel; futurist Noah Raford; Rachel Armstrong, Professor of Experimental Architecture, Newcastle University; Takashi Kudo of teamLab.
FAE 1 was produced by Serpentine R&D Platform in collaboration with Rival Strategy.