Digitisation is shaping our daily lives and changing the way we communicate, spend our free time and work. RENATO SOLDENHOFF, head of ZHdK’s Digital Skills & Spaces Programme, is developing scenarios to understand what tomorrow’s job profiles in the arts and design might look like and how we might best prepare for the related demands and challenges.
BY LUKAS ZITZER
Lukas Zitzer: You have developed fictitious profiles of how artists, arts educators and designers might be working in the future. What changes are you expecting?
Renato Soldenhoff: These fictitious profiles aim to show which abilities and skills might become professionally relevant in the near future: for example, the self-determined and well-reflected handling of digital possibilities, the digitally shaped cultivation of relationships or how we deal with technologies. Working and learning are becoming more diverse and more self-responsible, while classifying information is becoming more demanding and the forms of cooperation more complex.
Digitisation has fundamentally changed the way we work. This development comes with the fear that, at some point, we will be replaced by computers. Is this justified?
Digitisation is often described as a wave that overwhelms us and at whose mercy we are. This image does not coincide with my perception. We are all part of this development, use its possibilities and make our own contributions. We can adopt a more creative attitude and develop our future in such a way that we take centre stage and not technology. Computers are suitable for some things, while we humans master others outstandingly well. We can improvise, are versatile, have intuition, develop ideas and ask questions. We also cultivate relationships and have a sense of justice.
How can a university like ours prepare students for jobs whose duties and responsibilities are still unknown?
Our Digital Skills & Spaces Programme promotes valuable interdisciplinary skills for the digital age. It is based on a competency model that we have developed specially for this purpose. We offer a range of opportunities: For example, we are planning a project slam called “What the Digital?” We host a “Design Your Future” online course, while “Z-Skills” enables ZHdK experts to network based on their competencies. Such additional opportunities are intended to make life in the digital age easier for students, but also for the ZHdK community as a whole.
We are increasingly holding Skype meetings from our home office and solving problems on the fly via e-mail. What significance will personal encounters have?
We value personal dialogue, personal meeting and spatial experience as much as digital communication and collaboration. Personal encounters are becoming even more important because they are becoming more exclusive. One mode does not exclude the other. The respective forms of communication and cooperation are simply taking on new meanings.
We want to design and explore the qualities of physical and virtual environments. For now a seminar room will therefore be redesigned in such a way that it is optimally equipped for learning and practising new forms of teamwork and digital creation. This room will then be available to all ZHdK members and hopefully will soon be populated with contextualist, presenceresses and slash/artists.
The off-site musician
Performative work across geographical distances is becoming more important. Alma is a flutist and plays in the city orchestra and the International Telepresence Orchestra (ITO). She has set up a small music room with a telematic network tool. She uses the studio to teach students across the world.
The vast amount of available information complicates assessing its relevance. Jari is a freelance contextualist and offers his services to various organisations and companies. He analyses information and presents it in different contexts. In addition, he regularly writes for magazines and gives lectures.
Encounters and interpersonal communication are becoming increasingly important. Matea, a trained theatre professional, offers consultations and workshops for members of heterogeneous organisations researching how interpersonal relationships can be redesigned and made sustainable.
Working in various artistic fields and cross-funded projects are increasing. Media artist Marlon programmes in his own studio and produces in Fablabs. He exhibits in off-spaces and distributes his works via social media. In addition, he works as a freelancer in a digital agency and programmes apps.