The City as a Site of Research
The city is an ideal platform for developing new methods of cooperation in scientific and artistic research. Taking Amsterdam as case study, the density of ‘cosmopolitical’ problems in this area demands analyses, experiments and collaborative practices that surpass the efforts that separate disciplines have engaged in so far. The vast amount of cultural heritage and the exploitation thereof to attract growing masses of tourists puts pressure on infrastructure, environment, housing, and public space that is already in need of new solutions. Creative impulses do not only change areas of the city for the better, but also cause processes of gentrification that exclude certain groups of inhabitants. When start-ups such as Airbnb and Uber increase this pressure on the city, bottom-up initiatives in the vein of platform cooperativism (in the words of Trebor Scholz) and sustainism (a term by Michiel Schwarz and Joost Elffers) channel a creative, inclusive and collaborative energy with the aim to counter this trend. Furthermore, artistic interventions create new concepts and images that invoke reflection on these issues.
On the other hand, the city contains a vast reservoir of creativity, in the form of art schools, fablabs, studios and ateliers, art institutions, artists, designers and small creative companies that is now mostly evaluated in economic terms (‘creative industries’) but that could be explored as testing ground for new economic and cooperation models. Experiments such as Het Blauwe Huis by Jeanne van Heeswijk in IJburg deserve attention for their role as centres of artistic production and community forming but also for how they generate research. In The City as Site of Research, academics and artists will work together to turn Amsterdam into a proper creative city that is more than just a slogan used to cloak an actual decrease in the support of cultural institutions. A true creative city supports its vast artistic potential and invites artists and designers to develop new concepts, images, environments and possibilities, and to work together with scientists towards a better understanding of the complex body that we call Amsterdam.
Members of the ARIAS steering committee for this cluster: Adeola Enigbokan (UvA), Olga Sezneva (UvA), Michiel van Iersel (AhK), Joost Adriaanse (VU Amsterdam), Matthijs ten Berge (HvA)