Blog de Pau Alsina, profesor e investigador en arte, pensamiento y tecnociencias
Last Friday 18th of October I lectured at the 2013 Open Think Tank organized by ZZZinc and held in L’Estruch, a Centre for Production and Research in Performing Arts located in Sabadell city. I was invited by Oscar Abril Ascaso to contribute to this annual event (after the previous great talks of our beloved colleagues Rubén Martinez and José Luis de Vicente) because I had been previously involved in the design of the centre itself with a report on MetaEstruch, a prototype design for the new Centre and a comparative study of Medialabs around the globe.
This time I had to evolve the idea from Medialabs to Citizen Labs, connecting ideas with Living Labs (specially those named Open) and Urban Labs. So I had the chance to draw a historical perspective from the beginnings of the idea of the MediaLab itself, which we can track back to the days of the Bauhaus, until the most recent forms of evolved labs that are based in the participation of the Citizens in the heart of their activity, connecting with key ideas of our contemporary culture like for example the idea of the non-stop continuous process of creativity and innovation, the participatory culture, or the figure of the prosumers as a changing role in Creative Industries and Arts field as well.
The idea of the lab is quite strong nowadays, highly involved with the idea of an ongoing process of experimentation, more focused in testing and improving rather than serial producing, a process better connected with the metaphor of the Factory in any creative filed. It has always been said that the success of the Labs depended in their ability to be open and closed at the same time. Open to create a flux of talented ideas and people, connected to the international flows. Closed to be able to create and produce those prototypes and emerging ideas that need to be produced and tested.
This open/closed structure has been adapted to the actual moment, so we showed and analyzed several examples from different parts of the world, from the Amsterdam Waag Centre, the Toronto Citizen Lab , New York Science and the City, to the more Known local experience in Cornella CitiLab. The Living Lab key principles (openness, influence, realism, value and sustainability) were also discussed in relation to the new models of Citizen Labs emerging with a more social and Citizen oriented goals. The deal is how to merge goals from Citizens, Cultural and Arts field, Industry and Private companies, University or even Public Administration, without getting lost in this multivariate matrix or being completely absorbed by the Industry needs (and their propelling money).