THINC Webinar: Does Technology Enhance or Destroy Creativity?

By Tech x Culture&Creativity

From the listing of Roblox, the first metaverse stock on the NYSE, to the announcement of Facebook's transformation into a metaverse company, "metaverse" is undoubtedly the most talked-about buzzword in 2021. The related topics like blockchain, NFT, and virtual digital collectibles have earned a lot of attention during the pandemic. Many people believe that the way we participate in the digital world could be normal in our daily lives in the future. So, what is the relationship between technology and innovation?

 

In the 5th THINC webinar, entitled “Does Technology Enhance or Destroy Creativity?”, we invite Qingling Kong, Education Project Officer from UNESCO, to share with us an enlightening perspective on "Does the invention and application of new technologies enhance or undermine the creation and production of value?"

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does Technology Empower or Hinder Innovation: Talk by Qingling Kong

"What is technology? It is the practical application of scientific discoveries, especially in industry, that goes into production. And what is innovation? It is the generation of entirely new value." Innovation and creation never come out of nowhere, and new technology can help us find inspiration.

 

When Glen Keane, a leading Disney animation designer, first put on VR glasses, he could hardly contain his excitement: "With the help of technology, the portal to imagination opened up." Watching the virtual characters, he drew come to life, he believes that the new ways of interaction brought about by technology are truly promoting design and innovation.

 

However, the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche offered a different interpretation of the subject.

 

In his later years, Nietzsche, whose eyesight was failing, used the typewriter that had just been invented. It consisted of keystrokes, one after the other, in discrete letters, and was quite different from writing with a pen. For Nietzsche, the typewriter turned the function of writing with the hand into the mechanical action of pressing keys thus depriving our bodies of their true nature. So, he was anxious about the potential that the instrument of writing could also influence our thoughts.

 

Today, sitting in the office, we are faced with the same conflicts. New technology increases our productivity, while the constant stream of messages distracts us from our work.

 

Qingling mentions: "Whether technology enhances or disrupts innovation depends on the specific application of the technology and, more crucially, how it is used to fuel innovation." The impact and changes in the film industry as a result of technological developments also support this statement.

 

Content vs. Technology: Talk by Clément Magar

 

On 21 October 2020, Quibi, the streaming platform with high expectations, announced its closure only six months after its launch. Co-financed by Hollywood studio giants such as Warner, Disney, and 21st Century Fox and attracting big-name directors and stars, Quibi did not spark a revolution in the video world as expected. The battle between technological innovation and content production in film and television has been going on for years.

 

Clément Magar, General Manager of Fortissimo Films, points out: " The emergence and development of the film is part of the technological progress."

 

Technological advances have provided the film industry with a more glorious canvas to paint on, whether it's better reducing labor costs during the shooting process or optimizing efficiency thanks to advances in post-production, no one can ignore the significance of technology that has empowered the film industry. But the essence of the film has not changed with the advancement of technology.

 

The secret of Disney's leadership over the years, as revealed by Disney CEO Bob Chapek: " A good story." In the era of universal content creation and distribution on the internet, quality content is and will remain a beacon of light in a vast sea of information.

 

According to Clément, "Technology is not an answer to everything, and the impact of VR and 3D technology on the film industry is still limited." The collapse of Quibi was not a coincidence. Even though it spent a lot of effort on developing technical issues like horizontal and vertical conversion, investing heavily in celebrities, and advertising in the Super Bowl, the market is not buying it.

 

When Quibi limited the length of individual episodes to 5-10 minutes, the creators were left with no choice but to hand over a quality feature-length script to another strong rival, Netflix. The ill-fitting combination of a well-known cast and deeply customized technology with second-rate scripted content may have been one of the reasons for Quibi's demise. 

 

However, Clément notes that the public is spending a lot of time on fast entertainment and that the technological impact of short-form video is making the public pay less and less attention to long-form content. In his eyes, "the prevalence of short-form video is a cultural downgrade."

 

The battle between content and technology is expected to continue. While algorithms are accurately recommending short content to every user, and crude and vulgar degraded entertainment culture are flooding the audiovisual landscape, the use of AI, metaverse, and blockchain technology to digitize Western Picasso's paintings and the traditional Chinese art of The Peony Pavilion into NFT is an artistic ascension driven by technological innovation.

 

Investing Love in AI Technology: Talk by Ting Song

In 2021, the trend of NFT is sweeping the world, with giant institutions and stars entering the industry. As a non-homogeneous token with uniqueness stored on the blockchain, NFT can become a medium and carrier for digitizing artworks. Behind the fiery NFT phenomenon, can technology and innovation achieve organic unity and harmonious coexistence?

 

In response, renowned AI and blockchain artist Song Ting, however, tells us, "NFT is not just a medium, it gives culture a more realistic connotation."

 

Her virtual museum, the Ting Museum, is committed to bringing realistic paintings onto the blockchain. Picasso's famous painting Nude reclining woman wearing a necklace has been digitalized and put on the blockchain. This gives it a more dynamic look than the original painting. In the future, through AR and VR, everyone will be able to enjoy the world's most famous paintings face-to-face, and the copyright will be better protected through the blockchain.

 

In addition, the Ting Museum's NFT is using cutting-edge technology to help traditional cultures to explore more chances. With the support of AI technology, the NFT of The Peony Pavilion blends reality and the virtual.

If you look closely, you will find that some numbers and codes are hiding behind the blooming peonies. This is Song Ting’s and her friends' understanding of love, and they express it in the form of codes, which echoes the love between the couple in the original opera.

 

With the help of AI, the Peony Pavilion NFT is rooted in the traditional art of opera but is unique in its own way.

 

Song Ting believes that the artistic metaverse is a digital world where hearts are connected to each other. The true value of the NFT lies in the budding of creativity and the connection of true love. AI helps to create art, and only when love is embedded in it can technological innovation truly promote the sublimation of art.

 

Does the advancement of technology enhance or undermine innovation? THINC Fellows from each field seemed to show a different understanding. The only way to predict the future is to make it into reality!

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