The new Barcelona red carpet

In the era in which infinite interconnection has diluted territorial borders, the concept of capital is in vertiginous evolution.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
22 May 2023 Monday 14:26
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The new Barcelona red carpet

In the era in which infinite interconnection has diluted territorial borders, the concept of capital is in vertiginous evolution. Thus, the capitals, in any field, would belong more to those who work them - a Cervantine maxim that has never lost its validity - than to those who exercise them due to rights acquired at the beginning of time.

At a time when we are close to elucidating whether or not Barcelona will renew its cultural and scientific co-capital - that is why certain results must be given in the municipal and general elections -, the city also aspires to recognition in some areas in what sticks out For example, valuation is played as one of the capitals of digital art. Or, to put it in a less reductionist way, as one of the cities where the confluence between science and the arts is generating a more suggestive conversation.

It will be positive to continue debating how this commitment should be made concrete, but perhaps it is more practical to assume that there is a path already laid out to travel on. With a roadmap that has Sónar D as its main reference, a branch of the music festival that is now thirty years old. Edition after edition, Sónar D has been gaining not only the complicity of other cultural agents, but also infiltrating the scientific and technological ecosystem of the city, and has provided a forum and an audience for specialists who otherwise they would continue to be limited to the limited scope of their powers.

In this year's edition, in June, Sónar D will openly enter the debate on the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) in the arts - a field that it has been exploring for years -, but also 'will deal with its ethical implications. Thus, from the point of view of culture, there is an impact on a challenge: to turn Barcelona into a city of reference in technological humanism, which has not been thoroughly played from the political sphere.

The new edition of Sónar coincides with the Digital Impact exhibition on technological art, directed by Pep Salazar and which is an advance of the new philosophy of the heads of the DHUB and the Design Museum, Mireia Escobari José Luis de Vicente. Sónar and the renovated DHUB are communicating vessels. They are two poles (Montjuïc and Glòries) of the same creative proposal. The example is that a booming collective such as the Domestic Data Streamers participates in both Sónar D 2023 and Digital Impact (in addition to having a work in the CCCB exhibition on Sade).

In June – and also in Glòries – Pompeu Fabra University joins these proposals with the RAIN Film Fest, the first European festival of films generated with artificial intelligence. Promoted by the UPF, it is directed by Jordi Balló and is also part of the Sónar D programme.

This festival fits the pattern of Barcelona as a city-laboratory. We have to see how everything goes. It is not clear what his continuity will be, or if he will have it. The scheme is deliberately flexible to adapt to the demands of creators and audiences. What audience? With what attitude? Who will walk the red carpet (yes there is)? Who knows.

Proof of the need to adapt to a context that changes with an almost quantum frenzy are the films themselves. Just seven months ago, at the counterpart festival in New York, the Runway AI Film Festival, the films barely exceeded a minute, while in Barcelona you can see some of them up to 20 minutes.

Despite the fact that there is a contrasting and multidisciplinary talent, Barcelona's commitment to technological art is still poorly articulated. As a cultural promoter with a long history maintains, we cannot yet speak of an ecosystem of art and science because the actors themselves in this scene barely know each other. Perhaps, at some point, the administrations should really get involved to encourage it to take off. This is how, with public support, Ars Electronica in Linz was consolidated, one of the great global references in this field.