Comics and electronic music, museums of the future and science communications, design codes and blockchain in arts

Open Lectures prepare an extensive program that includes discussions, lectures and workshops dedicated to relevant trends of modern culture and development of technologies in this field. All events of Open Lectures are intended for the Public Flow of the Forum and conventionally free. 

"Culture 2.0" is a key project of the educational block within the program of the Saint Petersburg International Cultural Forum. Open Lectures on technologies in culture raises issues that have started to be discussed in Russia and even in the world sometimes only recently. Open Lectures "Culture 2.0" gathers together world-known experts in field of culture and young innovators, composers and writers, cinema directors and designers. The scope of topics "Culture 2.0" covers is so extensive, because it addresses the newest and the most interesting aspects of today's cultural process. This year the problem of mass culture in the most diverse manifestations is clearly pronounced in the program of Open Lectures — from whether comics can be seen as art to discussions on how to make culture more available with the help of popularization and academic communications in museum, and how to make museums more attractive for visitors through development of their infrastructure. 

Open Lectures is a project that grows its audience constantly by offering new topics and formats of communication. This year a new block will appear — "Culture 2.0 Zoom." How to become a lighting designer? Where to get a degree of a scene-painter? What does a concertmaster do? How will people's jobs change in the nearest future, what skills and competencies will graduates have to possess in the short term already? A series of events in the framework of Open Lectures "Culture 2.0 Zoom" is aimed at very young audience, i.e. those who are just to choose their professional future. "Culture 2.0 Zoom" helps to gain insight into various professions in field of culture — speakers revel secrets of their professions and reflect on how technologies are changing their work.  

During the days of the Forum on November 12–14, the Open Lectures "Culture 2.0" will work in the Manege Central Exhibition Hall. Its program will include several thematic blocks. One of them is dedicated to music technologies and prospects of electronic music.  

The Public talk "Technologies Changing the Music Industry" will address the changes brought to music with development of technologies. The appearance of new music instruments, extensive use of present-day technologies and application of computer programs will lead to transformations in music education, change the ways music is created and played. The interest of musicians and their audiences in unusual sounds, and the desire to make the work of composers and performers easier have created a new approach to the music-making process.  

Will the creative and technology-related studies in the field of music, as well as the studies of many years of experience of composers, musicians and their audiences lead to creation of innovative music technologies? Is it at all possible to make music a source of research studies? How can we relate the artistic perception of music to the natural scientific approach to cognizing it? These are the questions experts will discuss with the audience.  

The Discussion “XXI Century Electronic Music: From Dubstep to Electro House” will continue the musical topic from another point of view: how appearance of a new type of instruments (electronic and electromechanic) as early as in the beginning of the 20th century had led to establishment of a new music genre later, in 1960s–1970s, and how it has been developing over the last decades to become one of the most popular dimensions in mass culture. The phenomenon of electronic music that currently comprises a lot of various styles — from academically experimental to dance ones — is directly connected with the influence of technologies.  Specialists in music studies, composers and performers, including experts from Germany — Matthias Pasdzierny, Junior Research Assistant of the Faculty of Music Studies in Berlin University of the Arts, and  
Hans-Joachim Roedelius, a musician and composer, will tell which revolutionary changes has electronic music undergone as a genre over the last decade, what are the differences between electronic music of 1990s and its modern styles, whether it is possible to analyze electronic music, and how pop culture and electronic music interact. 

The Discussion "The Future of Electronic Music in the Z Generation Era" is a discussion, where specialists from UK, Spain and other countries will discuss how the technology of creating electronic music has been changing over the last decade and what it can lead to in the future. It has taken one decade only to change aesthetic concepts; a large number of programs for composing has appeared, and ready-made pre-sets and samples are in general use. Musicians today represent the digital generation, young people who are used to constant presence of electronics in their lives. So the opportunity to just sit down and start composing music with the help of accessible digital devices seems natural to them. 

Then a question arises, whether everyone is able to create music nowadays? What is the difference between a professional musician and an amateur? What are the peculiar features of contemporary electronic music-making technology? Finally, what is the future of electronic music? We've invited top experts, including Antonio de Robertis, Audio Production Program Coordinator in the Audio and Sound Engineering Institute (SAE UK), Sergi Jordà, Associate Professor in the University Pompeu Fabra, co-founder of Reactable Systems (Spain), and others to speak on these topics.  

The topic of music technologies will be continued with "Culture 2.0 Zoom": the Public Talk "I want to become a musician!" will help young people to find out what this professional path starts with, what skills and competencies are required and why it is not enough to learn how to hold a guitar. Do contemporary musicians need to have formal training in music? Where can we find inspiration? What software for making sounds or melodies can a beginning musician use? How can a young musician find a producer and attract the attention of listeners to his or her work? What platforms do allow publishing and selling one's own music? We'll talk about it with a famous musician to hear a professional opinion. 

Another thematic block of Open Lectures this year is visual mass art, comics in particular. Up until now, they have been conventionally considered an "unserious" genre intended for children and teenagers who don't want or can't read books. Though specialists, on the contrary, see comics as a new form of art. Dissemination of mass culture, globalization and urbanization have led to appearance of new forms of creative self-expression. As a consequence, we see the emergence of an independent, ninth, type of art – at the intersection of literature and art. The discussion "Comics: Art Number Nine" will be dedicated to this pretty new genre. Combining the literary and artistic components, comics turn into an independent and unique type of art, a product of a new era. In what sense, in addition to combining text and images, are comics peculiar and special? In what sense are comics different from fiction? What advantages do comics have over other literary works? That, as well as prospects of comics as an industry in general, will be discussed in the framework of "Culture 2.0." 

And "Culture 2.0 Zoom" will continue the topic of comics with a practical Public Talk "How to become a Comics Artist?". A professional expert will help teenagers to gain insight into specificities a profession of a comics artist has, reveal secrets of their trade based on their personal experience, speak about their creative path and share some thoughts on the future of comics artists in the era of high technology development. 

What does the future comics artist's professional career begin with? Do you need to have education in art? Where and why should a young artist study the art of comics? How to find topics and plots for comics? Whose works can be used for inspiration? How do artists attract attention to their work and how can they start earning money with their pieces? We'll find out at "Culture 2.0 Zoom"! 

Another thematic block of "Culture 2.0" at the Forum is museums of the future and the future of museums. As high technologies become a permanent fixture in our lives, the needs of our society change accordingly. Innovations dictate new conditions for existence of the cultural sphere, which cannot but reflect on the work of museums. If previously museums had been concerned mostly with accumulating and storing cultural heritage artifacts, now the focus has shifted to presenting exhibits and attracting visitors. Museums today also continue providing educational services: they introduce the public to new concepts, help study cutting-edge technologies, and work to improve the level of social responsibility. Through hearing, vision and touch, inclusive programs facilitate broader perceptions of traditional arts. Thus, interactive formats of content presentation will not only entertain the audiences but add a new dimension to museum expositions, making them considerably more diverse.  

However, should classical museums pursue innovations and use multimedia equipment in conditions of swift development of new technologies? Can interactive elements take center stage in presentation of museum content and fully replace works of art? Does use of VR, AR, and AI technologies guarantee success? What are the trends and prospects of applying interactive formats in museum work? What future lies ahead for museums and the museum community? These are the issues the Discussion "Museums of the Future" is dedicated to. Famous experts such as Sir Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum (UK), Michiel Buchel, Director of the NEMO Science Museum (the Netherlands), Tonya Nelson, Director of Arts Technology and Innovation at Arts Council England (UK) and others, will share their vision on how interactive technologies can change the future of museums. 

Discussion "Role of Science Communicators in Museum and Culture" will address an important topic of academic knowledge popularization. Today, popular science information is transferred via different channels, such as online education courses, and new YouTube channels. Museum workers also help communicate scientific information to the general public, because any museum today is not only a collection of exhibits but also an open venue for scientific discussions and educational projects. 

Popularizing science, as well as creation of a common information space would be impossible without development of science communication, which is based on the joint efforts of scientists and society. Specialists who are able to translate scientific knowledge into a language anyone can understand are called as science communicators. Culture communicators must not only spread cultural knowledge but also promote the culture organization as a community of experts. In the course of the discussion specialists, including such a renowned expert as Nicholas Pyenson, a research geologist and Curator of Fossil Marine Mammals at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History (USA), will share their opinions on what science communication in culture will look like in the future, what the goals of science communicators are, and how science communication can help museums. They will also try to find out whether science communication facilitates exchange of experience and improves a level of qualification of the museum community. Should museums be spending resources on creating their own science and information environments? Who must be interacting with museum audiences: tour guides or scientists? Finally, what is the role of museums in development of science? 

The topic of museums will be continuing unconventionally — with a discussion "The Taste of Art" dedicated... to restaurants and cafes in museums. Experienced museum workers, including such experts as Kathleen Lebesko, associate Vice President for Strategic Initiatives in Marymount Manhattan College (USA) and Björn Stenvers, board member of the International Committee of Marketing and Public Relations, ICOM (the Netherlands), will discuss additional services aimed at attracting attention of the audience. Additional museum services, such as cafes and restaurants, play an important role in positioning the museum as an accessible place for family recreation, meetings of friends and business negotiations. It is an obvious fact that cafes and restaurants in museums help these institutions gain additional profits. However, what functions, aside from the commercial one, can they fulfill? Must cafes and restaurants in museums be incorporated into museum expositions? And do museum restaurants and cafes possess any specific features?  

The problematics of mass culture will be developed further with a discussion "Mass Culture: Is It Kitsch or Boon?". Industrialization and globalization, development of market relations and technological advances, increased pace of life and changed models of consumption (in relation to information as well) have led to rapid development and distribution of mass culture. The culture of masses is democratic, easy to understand for most people and address people no matter what their national, social and material backgrounds are; it is adjusted to the current needs of the society and life conditions. Meanwhile, pop culture exists in conditions of production and consumption, and entertainment and pleasure play a decisive role in it. This inevitably leads to standardization and simplification of culture in terms of meaning and artistic expression.  

Unlike the culture of the majority, the culture of the elite seeks for new ways to implement creative ideas into practice, and produces exclusive cultural values. Meanwhile, high culture, which embodies exemplary art, is accessible only to a limited, privileged group of people, which contradicts the current social order centered around the principle of social equality.  

World-known experts, including such authorities as John Storey, an Emeritus Professor of Cultural Studies in the University of Sunderland (UK) and Angela Nelson, Associate Professor of the Department of Popular Culture in the Bowling Green State University (USA), together with the audience will reflect on whether it is relevant to divide culture into mass and elite ones in the modern world, is it worth opposing the culture of elites to pop culture, or they are mostly overlapping nowadays, and whether mass culture can be quality, exclusive. And, of course, the main question is whether culture can change our lives.  

Changes technologies bring into our lives will be addressed during the discussion "Inclusion and Ethics in Digital". It will be mostly about specificities of communications in digital media. The role of modern technologies is so great, that the digital space must be made as comfortable as possible for all users, regardless of their age, physical or psychological health. Digital technologies must facilitate social adaptation of disabled people, helping them fully participate in public life. 

How can the digital space be made convenient for users? How can we take into account the needs and wants of our audience? How can cultural institutions create high quality, ethical and successful digital projects? These are issues the discussion will be focused on. 

However, we don't simply live in a digital space, but rather in an urban one — according to statistics, more than a half of population of the planet lives in cities. The number of cities is growing, cities themselves grow as well turning into metropolises, so the issues of creating and maintaining a comfortable life environment for urban residents is becoming urgent. The shaping of a high-quality urban space would be impossible without preservation and development of its identity and adherence to architectural and artistic standards. That's what will be the topic of the discussion "Design Code and Visual Wholeness of Cities" that will be attended by Sue Morgan, Design Council's Director of Architecture and Built Environment (UK). The abundance of bright signs renders a negative influence on the overall state of the city and creates visual noise that makes it more difficult for city residents to navigate around the city. It also hides architectural elements of buildings from view. The design code helps to keep facades beautiful and city landscapes clean, as well as makes the city logistics simpler and safer. 

What challenges are associated with introduction of a design code? As we inspire to make the urban environment more uniform, how do we take into account the interests of representatives of the business community? Does the design code foster creation of healthy competition in business? How can city residents and entrepreneurs help in developing the unified design code of the city? Can the design code help regulate the flow of tourists? Discussion of creating a unified, comfortable and safe city environment will certainly spark public interest. 

And, of course, it's impossible to talk about technologies without mentioning blockchain nowadays. How is it related to culture? The connection is the most direct one, according to speakers of the discussion "Blockchain in Art: Inspired by Technologies" — Robert Norton, Co-Founder and CEO of Verisart (UK) and Kate Vass, Founder of Kate Vass Galerie (Switzerland). 

Works of modern artists have started moving into the field of science, technology, biology, social science, etc. long time ago. So establishment of Blockchain Art as an independent dimension of art seems natural. An opportunity to create an autonomous, self-sustaining and self-replicating work that can be interacted with is extremely appealing for creators. However, why are works of blockchain art still hardly accepted by everyone? Will bitcoin works achieve a level of high art? What prevents museums and galleries from taking Blockchain Art seriously?  

Blockchain technologies allow making the system of buying and selling art works more transparent. Using smart contracts with obligations to be honored automatically enables direct interaction of an artist and a client without participation of any mediators. Will blockchain unlock new options for funding artistic endeavours? Will it make artworks more available for the middle class?  

Blockchain technologies are mostly able to influence the artwork's validation verification and proof of origin. Nowadays most sales in the world of art fall on luxury class works that cost a lot which leads to massive counterfeits and fraud. Blockchain-based systems of estimation, documentation and certification of art and digital works will make the art market unified and legal. Will it lead to price reduction and cheapening of art? And can an open art market appear in the nearest future? Topics of blockchain in art have started to be discussed relatively recently, and now Open Lectures "Culture 2.0" will become one of the first venues for such a discussion in Russia. 

Traditionally, in the days of Open Lectures "Culture 2.0" lectures are given by people of culture — this year a speech by Olga Lyubimova, Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation, is planned to take place, as well as a public talk with a famous writer, winner of a literary award. Our guest will tell about their path in field of literature: throes of composition, the first fans and critics, victories and failures. We will also talk about whether the art should correspond to the Zeitgeist, and address the state of modern literature and culture in general.