New research project will analyse how emerging media practices and art can support the SDG:s

Art installation with people moving on a stage under a circular sheet. Photo: Diego Galafassi.
Mixed-reality project “Breathe” by Diego Galafassi and collaboration with Phi-Centre (Canada) and Crimes of Curiosity (U.S.A.)). Photo: Diego Galafassi.

Diego Galafassi, researcher at LUCSUS, is leading a new research project on emerging media practices. Using co-creation, and a practice-led approach, the aim is to analyse how emerging media - innovative media forms at the intersection of art, science and technology - can support transformations to realise the sustainable development goals. Key areas to explore are challenges, opportunities, risks and benefits connected to this new media landscape - and how new media forms are reshaping how societies engage and tell stories about the world.

What is your project about? 

The digital revolution has far-reaching effects on how societies communicate, create community, perceive the world and imagine common futures. Yet, there has been relatively sparse research on the implications of digital cultures in connection to the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). My research project, called “Wild Tech" focuses on "emerging media" - innovative media forms at the intersection of art, science and technology - and how they are reshaping the human communication architecture and how societies tell stories and engage with the world. Some examples include interactive platforms, artificial intelligence, biometrics, internet-of-things.

“Wild Tech" (the official name is: The Transformative Imagination: Emerging media and the sustainability transformations) builds on the previous project "Arts4SDGs", where in conversations with pioneers we identified emerging media as a potential space where new forms of narrating the challenges of sustainability could be developed. Importantly, that requires addressing the multiple biases and inequalities that have created the unsustainable systems in the first place and that already pervade emerging media space. 

Co-creating questions and methods with leading pioneers and with a practice-led component, we will do a comprehensive analysis of challenges, opportunities, risks and benefits within new media landscape and its relation to the Agenda 2030.

What is the social and scientific relevance of the research?

In conducting a comprehensive mapping of existing platforms and accelerator programs, we will help gathering insights on how to better design interactions between sustainability science, digital creative practice and policy. Also, working with historically marginalized groups we will shed light on how new media shape collective stories about sustainable futures. 

What do you hope to achieve?

I think the project is well positioned to help defining the potential of emerging technology in storytelling that brings us closer to a fair and sustainable world. Part and parcel of that has to do with the decolonization and eradication of racial and gender biases in the associated fields.

I hope this project will help not only to highlight where change needs to happen but trace possible ways forward. 

What makes you excited about the work?

Through the trajectory of these projects, I have collaborated with immensely talented creators and pioneers in the field of emerging technologies and storytelling. This has been a source of hope for the possibilities that lie ahead when we blend robust scientific and artistic practices. In the project I will also be hosting a 'digital garden', as a way to have a closer relationship with collaborators, policy makers and the publics. This will provide an alternative channel of communication to research papers, policy briefs and popular science communication. The digital garden aims at opening up the research process to make it both more transparent and relevant.

How do you foresee the results being used by society?

As we witness unprecedented collective efforts to contain a global pandemic, digital cultures are providing a space for human connection, sense-making and solutions.

In the post-pandemic world, it is paramount to examine how to harness digital cultures for the crafting of sustainability narratives and transformations; how they may support the inquiry into profound questions of what it means to live in the midst of planetary ecological upheaval, and how to empower communities to systemically transform social-ecological realities. 

Read more about the project Arts for Transformations on www.artsfortransformations.earth

The project is funded by the Swedish funding agency Formas.