Where Technology meets Culture is one of the first challenges taken on by Mons, the 2015 European Capital of Culture. A genuine social and cultural lever, technology as seen by Mons 2015 asks us about European Citizenship, the digital identity and creative industries. Focus on the digital part of the artistic programme of Mons 2015.
At the origin of Mons 2015 is the Digital Innovation Valley. Everything started when Google chose the town to set up its data centre in Europe and invested about €450 million here. It generated such energy that other companies, such as Microsoft, followed their lead soon resulting in the creation of a mini Silicon Valley in Mons which, today, boasts more than 100 companies working in digital innovation, several of which are European or global references in their field, and about a thousand high-tech jobs.
A remarkable economic and commercial boom for an average-sized town, completed by a unique experience in digital literacy for the population thanks to the in-service training centre, TechnocITé, which organises 300 teaching modules and trains 5,000 people a year; thus reinforcing the conditions which enable local entrepreneurs and young people from the region to envisage a future career in digital sectors in Mons.
The challenge is not technology for technology's sake, but aims to use it to reduce the social and digital divide, to initiate empowerment and invent new artistic and economic models: create bonds, warmth, inter-generational activities.
Here are some of the projects which aim to change how we see and how we use new technologies.
Nadia, 20 years old, explains to Huguette, 88 years old, how to boost her Facebook page. Using a 3D printer, Antoine is repairing a device which he thought was broken. Welcome to Café Europa. By launching this concept, in this digital era, Mons 2015 is offering a collective meeting space or a personal relaxation space, which is accessible, fun and connected. It is a network of interconnected places which are both physical and virtual. It is true that you can go there to have a drink, but also to meet, discuss in networks, play, listen to public lectures, train in 2.0 tools, discover 3D printing, learn from other Europeans, do some DIY, gardening and find your place in the surrounding world...
For the first time in the History of European Capitals of Culture, Café Europa is a network project with a European impact! About fifteen Café Europas all over Europe will be connected via screen walls in public spaces: Kaliningrad in Russia, San Sebastian in Spain, Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovinia, Riga in Latvia, Pilsen in the Czech Republic, Linz in Austria, Rome in Italy, Paris, Strasbourg and Avignon in France, and also Tokyo and Montreal, all Partner Cities of 2015.
MONS STREET RE-VIEW
The challenge? To create interactive walking views of the town in a Google "street-views" style and invite the inhabitants of Mons to participate in presenting their town. Each street has been presented with its residents. Apart from the collective and symbolic performance, this participative map of the town will offer a unique view of the Town on the Internet. The project can be continued using Google Maps technology and its API StreetView as a standard for immersive digital cartography.
Part of the programme is based on the question of the digital memory, its writing and its referencing. At a time when 90% of our intellectual production is on digital supports of unknown fragility in the history of humanity, Mons 2015 questions this new reality through different projects and exhibitions. Several participative projects have been developed with Wikipedia on the theme of writing and referencing (Mons, town Wikipedia), the Mundaneum (nicknamed "the paper Google" by Le Monde or "the Web forgotten by time" by the New York Times) offers an exhibition "Mapping knowledge - Understanding the world through data" and various living art projects are being built around our digital memory (Noiret/Detrez, Umeda, Louvet).
CULTURALLIA 2015 will be held on 14, 15 and 16 October 2015. It is a version of FUTURALLIA, an international B2B forum which has existed for more than 20 years. This Forum will be based on the fields of the cultural and creative industry (CCI) and information and communication technologies (ICT) in relation to the theme Mons 2015 – Where Technology meets Culture.
The concept is simple: companies describe their profile in an online catalogue and benefit from a pre-programmed business appointment schedule with other participants during the three days devoted to partnerships.
The aim is to bring together 500 Belgian and foreign companies from all the upstream and downstream CCI/ICT sectors.