While I no longer buy into certain Mayan prophecies, I will be so bold as to make a revolutionary prediction about 2012: This is the year that everything changes. By everything, I mean reality itself: what we perceive, the way we perceive it, how we perceive it, what we perceive it with, and how we move through it. Art and technology are about to collide with such a creative force that it will leave a lasting effect on what it means to have a human experience from here on out.
I often remind myself of that now infamous comment made by one of my favorite comedians, Louis C.K., who on Conan once said of modern technology: "Everything is Amazing, and No One is Happy". We have so many wonderful toys and still somehow feel unsatisfied by what they bring to our overall experience of life. Sure, we are connected. Sure, we are entertained. Sure, we are in touch. Sure, we have all this computing power and ability. Sure, but what are we really doing with it? Can we do more? What would we do if we could "do more"? Can everyone play a part while retaining a healthy and expanding sense of self?
I certainly believe we can do a lot more, and all over the world there are people right now who are engineering the future of the human experience.
They are artists, thinkers, tinkerers, and makers. They are musicians, visual artists, filmmakers, designers, inventors, entrepreneurs. They are a movement. They are passionately curious. They are global in their body and mind. They are driven. They are aware. They share. They dream. They create together as well as help each other create alone. They are the next generation of creative souls who protect us from jumping off the ledge of technological "progress" and keep us from turning into the machines we have created. They do this by infecting, redesigning, readjusting, and re-appropriating our technology in such a way as to affirm our humanity and attempt to deepen our experiences in the connected age.
These artists, these revolutionaries of the human spirit, their medium is the modern world -- they use mainstream technology in order to make a meaningful influence upon the world and to offer something original and extraordinary, complete with depth and meaning. They have awakened to the potential, and they posses a fire that drives them to do something more, something important, something necessary, before we go too far off the cliff and lose our humanity forever.
2011 was an amazing year of advancements in the capabilities of readily available technologies and platforms, and 2012 will prove to be a pivotal year for what we end up doing with these technologies. The quality, pervasiveness, and artistic potential present within the creative integration of existing and newly available technological platforms is staggering. With regards to the interactive, interconnected, and immersive media potential we posses right now, what we will soon see from these creative explorers will have a noticeable effect on the way our world looks and feels, the way we move through the world, and how we can further develop meaningful connections with one another in this new world.
Look around. We have 3D cameras available in every major department store, able to see all the contours of our physical world, able to track the people within it. We have robust interlinked computers in our pockets and in our homes complete with HD cameras and a multitude of sensors. We have methods for analyzing and visualizing large amounts of data in ways that give us entirely new pictures of what our world looks like and how it behaves. And everything is connected! Every device and every person can talk to everything else in near real-time, away from the desktop, and out within our lived world.
On top of all this, we have existing platforms and communities solely dedicated to expanding the capabilities of the artist, the maker, the creator. Microprocessor platforms like the Arduino, programming platforms like Processing and openFrameworks, educational publications like O'Reilly Media and Makezine.com, support businesses like Sparkfun and Adafruit, just to name a few, who all exist for the sake of expanding the tools and abilities of the "creative technologist."
One very notable community at the center of this revolution is the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at NYU/Tisch School of the Arts where I am one of the Class of 2012. Most everything I see from this community is nothing short of amazing. Comprised of some of the most passionately curious, technologically savvy, students, and instructors alike, ITP is a place where this revolution lives, breathes, lives and is now being created. A testament to the promise of the digital age to make it, so collective energy and knowledge can be used to enhance, inspire, and liberate each individual's creative spirit, ITP stands now at the center of the reality revolution. I believe our upcoming thesis projects will support this. As a preview of what's to come, here is a look at the most recent projects from ITP's Winter Show 2011.
Overall, ITP is a community like may others, dedicated to making our lives and our reality more fun, more playful, more productive, more worthwhile, more intelligent, more open-minded, more authentically connected, more inspired, all through creatively leveraging the technological medium, and then sharing that ability.
2012 is the year that technology grows up complementary to the way it is growing out. It's technology that becomes self-aware of its role in the lives of humanity because the people behind it are aware of the higher purpose it can serve. It's media technology that becomes refined and sophisticated because the tools and toys we create rapidly rise to the challenge of supporting refined, sophisticated, and connected lives.
Exactly how our media will achieve any of this rests in the hands of those creative professionals and technologists working today worldwide to realize their visions of a media that can be a genuinely helpful, and healing force in the lives of all connected human beings.
In 2012 we will each take part in the changing perceptions about what is possible. Our attitudes about what is important and genuine will readjust. We will be inspired to engage in playful creativity, and it will all be through the unbridled exploration of new heights of technological fluency, and through empowering one another with the opportunity to help co-create our new reality, our reality of something more.