Earlier this year while thinking through the institution’s next steps, I asked a fundamental question: should The Current exist? In an over-saturated battle for our attention, there must be a deep and compelling reason to start a fresh model with new energy.
I’m proud to report that I’ve found this reason. The Current’s new direction, the people we have involved, and our novel format warrant attention. Your attention.
In addition to our new salon model, the reboot addresses two important questions: Why examine technology’s impact on our lives? – and, just as importantly – Why focus on contemporary art to understand this cultural change?
Regarding the first question, I believe technology has radically transformed our society, and at the same time, introduced a critical series of unsolved inquiries that simply didn’t exist a generation ago.
Here’s a few:
→ What is truth, when technology is adept at manipulating media beyond our ability to distinguish authenticity?
→ How is our human psychology hijacked by technology to influence our behavior (more ♥’s pls!)?
→ How should one live when a smartphone never leaves your side?
→ Is it possible to store ideas forever with technology, and if so, is that a good thing?
→ How do you reconcile internet scale with human scale to form a unique identity and purpose?
→ How are certain voices being amplified and others silenced on the Internet? Does it matter?
→ How are our relationships moulded by technology? Can you truly know someone just through video chats?
→ Does technology lead to abandoning community and human interaction? In other words, would you rather give your order to a machine or a person? Have a driver or be driverless?
→ What happens when technology becomes "smarter" than us? Where will humans add value (hint: artistic creativity)?
If you’re like me, these questions have been at the tip of your tongue, but the traditional sources for insight: the media, government, and religion haven’t provided adequate responses. In some cases, they’re woefully unequipped to play this role due to inherent bias, red-tape, or worse-yet apathy/ignorance. 'Her' and 'Black Mirror' hit us harder than metrics and regulation. That’s where contemporary art comes in.
To some, it may be a surprise that society has historically turned to art for understanding and contextualizing change. Movements such as Dadaism, Italian Futurism, and Pop Art were all in response to, and provided relevant and mind-changing ideas around, their cultural moment. While as a society we now tend to look towards science and statistics for guidance, I believe art is an underutilized and powerful tool for examination.
Artists are inherently excellent truth-seekers, and I believe that in an increasingly algorithmic world, artistic creativity is critical for how humans understand and contribute to society in a technologically-driven future.
I am excited to begin The Current’s new journey towards better understanding one of the most important shifts in history. Together we can use the power of contemporary art to examine technology in a new light, and furthermore, explore the concept of a museum where this art is exhibited, studied, and preserved for future generations.
Will Nathan, Chairman and Founder of The Current Museum