Code for Creativity: »Open Codes« for Mumbai
In a city like Karlsruhe, with 300,000 inhabitants, the exhibition experiment »Open Codes« attracts up to 1,800 visitors on weekends.
The ZKM has now developed a satellite for India: Since the beginning of April 2018, the exhibition »Open Codes. Digital Culture Techniques« can be experienced in Goethe-Institut Mumbai. Christiane Riedel, Managing Director of the ZKM, has opened the exhibition station in India. She reports on how codes open the space for creative thinking and why »Open Codes« can also be adapted for other cultural spaces.
What is your goal with the further development of »Open Codes« for India? Were there any changes to the format?
Christiane Riedel: »Open Codes« is an open, innovative exhibition concept that can be adapted very well for other countries, spaces, contexts and partners. The common level always remains the subject of codes and the exhibition space as a co-working space.
For the first international station of »Open Codes«, the exhibition was concentrated on 15 works, since the gallery of the Goethe-Institut Mumbai is much smaller than the ZKM. In addition, a thematic focus was set which is of particular importance for cultural exchange with the technology country India, namely the digital code as a new cultural technique, hence the title for Mumbai: »Open Codes. Digital Culture Techniques«. This topic has already been prepared by the »Coding Culture Hackathon«, which the ZKM organized in Mumbai at the beginning of February 2018.
»The common level always remains the subject of codes and the exhibition space as a co-working space.«
The selected installations also relate to India and were partly adapted for this purpose. In several works based on language, such as »S2T2T2M2L« by Daniel Heiss, »Lost in Computation« by Jonas Eltas or »Symbolism in Circuit Diagrams« by the Russian artist group »Where Dogs Run«, Hindi is now used in addition to digital codes and English. The ZKM production »Genealogy of the Digital Code« was supplemented by important Indian developments, and the public magnet »YOU:R:CODE«, another ZKM production, was technically redesigned.
In Mumbai, too, free admission and the free programme of events and workshops in cooperation with numerous local players have remained the same.
The ZKM organizes exhibitions worldwide – how are these global efforts reflected in Karlsruhe?
Christiane Riedel: The ZKM is a very well-known and popular institution abroad because it investigates and communicates current digital change in an inspiring and advanced way.
As the ZKM is present all over the world through its partner institutions and its close cooperation with the Goethe-Institut, it also acts as a kind of ambassador for the city of Karlsruhe. It strengthens the city's international relations and Karlsruhe's profile as a location for innovation. Abroad, people are very impressed by the precise overall profile Karlsruhe has developed into the new technologies in science, business and culture. The ZKM is an important communicator for this profile and complements the city's dialogue on an economic level through its artistic-scientific relations. This is an important contribution in the age of globalization.
Anyone coming to Karlsruhe from abroad, whether an artist, scientist or politician, often already knows the ZKM – and then wants to get to know the entire ZKM and the city that the ZKM invented.
The projects in Mumbai currently play a special role, as the city of Karlsruhe maintains close relations with Pune, but increasingly with Mumbai. Maybe even the »SCHLOSSLICHTSPIELE« can be exported there.
How does the Indian audience take up the workshop formats? The thesis of the exhibition in India is that »codes« open the space for creative imagination – how does this approach continue in the mediation events?
Christiane Riedel: The reactions are very positive because you can actively interact with the exhibition. This is an unprecedented format in India. It thus appeals to an audience far beyond the art scene: IT specialists, scientists and students from all possible fields as well as families and young people. Coding is not only taught in the workshops for technical applications, as is usual in India, but as a tool for creativity.
»Everyone's thrilled to see so much creativity in codes.«
Workshops and discussions take place every day and there are new cooperations with partners every day. Recently, a cooperation with the Science Museum Mumbai was started, which has prepared an exhibition entitled »Machine Learned« and has now proposed a joint educational program.
As in Karlsruhe, the exhibition opens up connectivity for other areas such as architecture and urban planning, design, museology, technology and science, art and coding. In the very new cooperation between the most diverse disciplines in India, completely new discussions are emerging. The exhibition shows the meaning of the codes as »Digital Culture Techniques«, the workshops convey knowledge in dealing with this new cultural technique.
Dr. Martin Wälde, Director of the Goethe-Institut Mumbai, describes his motivation to show the exhibition in the gallery of the institute by saying that »the preoccupation with the digital and the code has still not found its way into artistic production in India. Technology and art are still separate worlds here. The exhibition is intended to create a new understanding of digital artistic production and also address a completely new audience – since there have never been such things as »Open Codes« in India before.
The format of the exhibition is very important and innovative for us, as it leads to completely new forms of interaction and participation with the visitors and promotes learning processes through workshops. As a new and stimulating learning laboratory,»Open Codes« is also extremely important and innovative in cultural and exhibition policy.«