Meeting the Future at TodaysArt

Monika Kozub
September 29th 2016

Last week The Hague hosted the 12th edition of TodaysArt, a festival dedicated to contemporary experiments in music, art and digital culture. As the event - called "Public Under Construction" - incorporated meetings, performances, installations and concerts all focused on the future, it gave more questions than answers. Some of them are worth pointing out.

1. Which culture would we have in outer space?

Friday 23rd September started with a symposium "Art, Astrospace and MoonMars" organised by We Are Europe association. Researchers from ESA European Space Agency and members of Entropy team pointed out some of the most important issues in terms of design. Dr Agata Kołodziejczyk (ESTEC) blamed the film industry for spoiling viewers and shifting their expectations of space environment incredibly high. Whereas the truth about space design is rather down to earth at this moment: plain interiors with few ordinary pieces of furniture, a long way from fabulous high-tech miracles. If this would be an apartment for rent probably no one would be interested in it: tiny rooms, no windows, only basic everyday utensils. This presents a challenge for designers: make the habitat area look more appealing while preserving overall thriftiness and energy-efficiency. The problem of fashion in space is another interesting issue. Artist Sarah Jane Pell, together with her workshop group, came up with an idea of a space suit designed as an inverted porcupine - hypersensitive for nerve impulse transmitted through our skin. The meeting ended with a question about culture: the duplication of what we have on Earth is simply impossible. We need to chose and this may be the hardest question of all.

MDRS in Utah

Members of Crew 138 come together for a nightly meal at the Mars Desert Research Station in southern Utah. Photo by Jim Urquhart for National Geographic 3/18/2014

2. Is it possible to make a modular body?

Every living organism has a closed circular body system. The Modular Body, developed by Floris Kaayk in partnership with Next Nature Network, is an attempt to create a different model. Floris Kaayk together with journalist Ine Poppe and artist Machinefabriek presented the idea on Saturday 24th September. A hybrid of performance and presentation confronted the audience with the possible future of 3D-printing organs.

3. Who actually "owns" the city?

"Public Under Construction" festival banner was set in the middle of what was left of Spui Square due to a proper construction site beside. Architects from Zones Urbaines Sensibles made a prototype of modern agora referring to its Greek origins. What was meant to be public space is very often owned by commercial business. That leaves us questioning if we still have places that are truly public. TodaysArt organizers invited various specialists to discuss the matter on site. Among them NNN director Koert van Mensvoort read his "Letter to Humanity".

As once Albert Einstein said: "The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing". Let's hope we will find some answers in the future.

Cover Photo: Maurice Mikkers

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Should men be able to give birth to children?


Koert van Mensvoort: Is the artificial womb frankenstein-like symbol of (male) engineers trying to steal the magical womb from women? Or… is it a feminist project and needed to reach through equality between the sexes? I personally lean towards the latter. To me it feels like progress if a girl can tell a guy to carry the womb for a change.

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