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  • Governing Artistic Innovation:An Interface among Art, Science and Industry
  • Jean-Paul Fourmentraux (bio)

The author presents an analysis of the workings and tensions involved in the integration and articulation of academic research, artistic creation and industrial production. He makes use of the results of a study conducted among creator-researchers of a Canadian prototype for the organization of these relationships: the Montreal, Canada-based interuniversity consortium Hexagram.

The process of technological innovation drives the reorganization of research in the media arts. The imperatives of innovation and creativity have become the driving forces for industry-transferable research and creation. In this context, "artistic talent" is a highly sought-after, actively encouraged resource [1], so much so that the identity and role of contemporary artists are being transformed: No longer only creators, they are expected to be researchers and entrepreneurs, experts in the "new economy." Although wagering on these new "workers" may be fashionable, the relationship between artistic creativity and innovation remains problematic [2]. New forms of consortium are being created to foster innovative "research and creation" with the potential to generate spin-offs and added value, not only from an artistic perspective but from a scientific and industrial one as well. Such alliances are difficult to establish, first, because the interdisciplinary hybrid known as "research and creation" lacks a stable identity; second, because the products created are not distributed under the same conditions or through the same channels as traditional art or more conventional scientific research; and lastly, because of the uncertainty surrounding the scope and longevity of such initiatives. This uncertainty is linked to the absence of explicit demand that would enable this sector to perpetuate itself socially, recruit practitioners and provide career opportunities, as well as to the lack of assurances regarding the development and/or commercial potential of what it produces, outside the artistic community. The new "artistic organizations," which are supposed to promote research and creation with social spin-offs, do not easily fit existing organizational models in academia and industry. As a result, the economy of "research and creation" requires a reconfiguration of organizational management in these establishments, but also a redefinition of the positions, workers, tools, works and knowledge to be covered. By taking into account the results of a study [3] conducted among creator-researchers of the interuniversity consortium Hexagram, based in Montreal, Canada, this article offers an initial clarification of the promises and difficulties of these articulations and new organizational interfaces between artistic production and technical innovation [4]. I discuss the various dimensions of, and what is at stake in the inter-relatedness between, development, research and creation. In conclusion, I examine the restructuring of artistic work and the resulting hybridized products.

Encouraging Artistic Innovation

The consortium Hexagram [5] is the result of the fusion, heartily encouraged by the government of Quebec, of two previous initiatives in Montreal: the plan to found a University Institute of New Media at the francophone University of Quebec (UQAM) and to create a laboratory of new media (Medialab [6]) at the anglophone University of Concordia. At the intersection of these two institutions, Hexagram brings together about 80 researchers. It receives $6 million from a public research funding organization, Valorisation Recherche Québec [7], shared among both sister universities. It also receives $21 million, earmarked for infrastructure expenses, from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation [8]. The magnitude of these subsidies constitutes a double anomaly. For the first time, Canadian organizations for the advancement of university research, usually dedicated to biomedical sciences, are subsidizing artistic disciplines. It is also the first time that such a significant amount of credit (in both meanings of the term) has been allotted to arts disciplines.

In this context, Hexagram plans to associate, in an original way, academic research, artistic creation and industrial production. To pursue this objective and put it into concrete practice, Hexagram's mission is twofold. On one hand, the consortium proposes to integrate the connected work of the different laboratories and various researchers spread over a large number of overlapping departments at the two sister universities. The purpose is to implement the sharing of the equipment and resources necessary for innovation relying on the modularity and flexibility of...


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pp. 489-492
Launched on MUSE
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