Why “self-update” through art is effective for creating innovation


What kind of connections and possibilities exist between art and business management? Last time, we explored her experience at Ars Electronica 2023, a global media art festival held last fall, and an interview with Emiko Ogawa, who oversees the festival’s competition department a self-update.

This time, we will take a step further and focus on the impact media art has on the “individuals” who make up a company. As globalization progresses and understanding diverse values ​​and addressing social issues becomes essential for business, how can media art change individual values? We then asked them about the kind of value they create for companies and society.

Update your worldview with media art “self-update”

Why “self-update” through art is effective for creating innovation

Hiraoka: What do people at companies and individuals involved in Ars Electronica gain through media art?

Ogawa: Participants first try to understand through their works what kind of themes the artists address, how they overcome challenges, and express themselves. In this process, we come into contact with and absorb the artists’ way of thinking and what they value. In this way, you will acquire a “new perspective” that is different from your own, acquire the ability to make discoveries on your own, and “update” your own values.

Ars Electronica’s art thinking is future thinking. By witnessing both the positive and negative aspects of the work, participants become interested in various topics and begin to think deeply about them. Examples include social issues such as climate change, socio-politics, human rights, and diversity; futures made possible by cutting-edge science and technology; new ways to use existing technologies; and innovations made possible through citizen participation and collaboration. You could even say that we can update the worldview of future society.

Hiraoka: I see. This leads to the attitude of “self-update is the updating one’s own ideas and values,” which is essential when promoting business transformation and R&D in a company. The attitude of being interested in art can also be said to be the flexibility to accept new things and changes. We live in an era where people with this kind of attitude can thrive in companies.

Japanese people who are not good at things that are difficult to understand are the ones who choose art.

Why “self-update” through art is effective for creating innovation

Hiraoka: In Europe, there seems to be progress in understanding the importance of updating individual values, but Japan seems to be lagging behind. Where exactly does the difference come from?

Ogawa: In Europe, where countries are located adjacent to each other by land, consideration of the environment, human rights, and diversity is essential for business survival due to the historical background of multi-ethnic economies and cultures. Therefore, people are actively trying to use art to reexamine these social issues and learn how to deal with them through the power of self-update.

Hiraoka: I used to study abroad in London, and there were many venture capital and innovation funds in the UK that supported startups. I was surprised to find that in many cases they incorporate addressing social issues as a prerequisite for support for self-update. However, it must be said that in Japan, the awareness of solving social issues, both among individuals and companies, is lower than in European countries.

In fact, this is clearly reflected in the Boston Consulting Group’s 2021-2022 consumer awareness survey (Figure 1). When asked, “Do you care about the impact of your actions on climate change,” which is one of the most serious social issues, half of the people in Japan answered “I do” at 47% (*). This was significantly lower than European countries such as France (88%) and the UK (81%).

Ogawa: I think that in general, people in Japan today tend to have a low tolerance for things that are difficult to understand. For better or worse, they tend to place emphasis on designing information in an easy-to-understand manner, view differing opinions as a bad thing, and prioritize group harmony. In order to innovate, it is important to face things that are difficult to understand and different opinions, express one’s thoughts and intentions, and mutually change through dialogue. You can learn about these attitudes and mindsets through media art. 

Hiraoka: Differences in ethnicity may be one of the reasons. In the future, as it becomes more important for Japanese companies to develop overseas markets and build international partnerships, they must also approach innovation and R&D toward markets with diverse values ​​that are different from those in their home country. You are required to go. I believe that deep planning and planning from a variety of perspectives, including race, gender, and environmental issues, is extremely important.

Re-examining the nature of sexuality and family through the “communal womb”

Why “self-update” through art is effective for creating innovation

Through a conversation with Mr. Ogawa, we hope that media art will update the values ​​of individuals working in companies. In turn, this became a factor in promoting business transformation and technological innovation, and we were able to get a glimpse of the flow of innovation being returned to society. I believe that art has the power to find signs of the future and draw new stories while respecting history.

Lastly, I would like to introduce a piece that was on display at Ars Electronica 2023 and that really caught my interest. The name is “ORGAN OF RADICAL CARE”. This is an initiative to cultivate a “community artificial womb” using the menstrual blood of many women, transgender people, and non-binary people.

In the future, there are plans to incorporate “male” cells into this artificial womb, liberating the life-creating act of childbirth from the framework of “women’s roles,” and encouraging us to reconsider even the concept of family. I’m urging you. At a time when gender fluidity and diversity are gradually being recognized, I feel that this project will play a role in further deepening and expanding these ideas, and will provide an opportunity to fundamentally reexamine our culture and social structure.

Next, we will explore the deep relationship between art and entrepreneurship.

Why “self-update” through art is effective for creating innovation

We have delivered two interviews with Ms. Emiko Ogawa of Pre-Ars Electronica. The first half focused on how companies incorporate media art, and the second half delved into how individuals can update their thinking and values ​​through media art. After all, it is important to explore the possibilities of utilizing art at both the corporate and individual levels. Next time, we will explore the deep relationship between art and entrepreneurship, delving into the theme of how art can help develop leaders and create new business models.


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