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A Fragment of Eden
Florence Jung – MGKWalls
Cyber Dust: A Digital Parkour across Herford

We found a digital partner: Go-ahead for the joint cultural project “Open Worlds”

Holger Heißmeyer, Jennifer Aksu and Sebastian Quack © Martin Christopher Welker

The Berlin based developers Jennifer Aksu, Holger Heißmeyer and Sebastian Quack are completing the team of the cross-institutional research project “Open Worlds” as digital partners. This is the final step for the Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen, IMAGINE THE CITY Hamburg, the Kestner Gesellschaft Hannover and the Museum Marta Herford to begin with the practical implementation of a digital tool. The project, which is funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation in the Digital Fund, will present artistic projects within the urban space by creating digital routes.

The digital partners will develop an application called interkit in cooperation with the Berlin UX designers from Sansho Studio. The final product will combine a mobile app for users and an editorial system for the project partners. “Interkit is the tool that we would have wished for in many digital cultural programs. It is our vision to make interkit a universal tool for the production and design of interactive, web- and smartphone-based cultural experiences”, the developer team explains its motivation. For ten years now, the interdisciplinary joint venture led by Aksu, Heißmeyer and Quack has been developing playful, digital ideas for the art scene. In the application process the trio stood out because of their expertise and their sensitivity for the integration of artistic, curatorial and educational aspects. “The mobile application should raise enthusiasm for contemporary art production. For the coming years, the Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen has set itself the goal of working towards an art museum for tomorrow – ‘Open Worlds’ makes an important contribution to this,” says Thomas Thiel, director of MGKSiegen, from where the project is coordinated. “The museum of the future will be less and less a permanent place,” adds Roland Nachtigäller, director of Museum Marta Herford. “It is an open space for encounters and discussions, in the building, on the street and in the digital space. In this respect, the close interconnections between exhibition space, urban space and imagination space are a central concern of ours.”

In a first step, the institutions involved are developing experimental modules in case studies that embed artistic projects in their surrounding urban environment. In this way, also the less culturally oriented will be able to find an answer to the question of what art has to do with their individual reality, equipped only with their smartphones. “The approach of ‘Open Worlds’ is very close to ours,” explains Ellen Blumenstein, artistic director of IMAGINE THE CITY, which is developing new formats at the interface of urban development in Hamburg. “The final app is supposed to link up locations and projects digitally and contentwise and to charge the urban space imaginarily.” The development is based on existing usage patterns of digital platforms such as maps, gaming apps and messenger services in order to ensure low-threshold access.

In a second step, the gained experience contributes to a cross-institutional digital platform on an open-source basis, on which the individual modules can be exchanged regardless of location. “We want to develop a sustainable application that can later be adopted, modified or expanded by all kinds of cultural workers and communities. The public financial means that we use to gain our knowledge should ultimately benefit the public,” says Elena Frickmann, who is coordinating the project from MGKSiegen since August 2020. The digital project is also an opportunity to promote cooperation within the participating institutions and in the immediate vicinity. “We see ‘Open Worlds’ as an opportunity to work with our strong partners to realize an innovation that both involves our neighbors on a local level and inspires the digital community. This year, which has been extremely difficult due to Corona, shows the creative power that lies in the joint project,” notes Adam Budak, Director of the Kestner Gesellschaft. In fact, the project’s aim of making art digitally visible and accessible appears to be more central than ever. “Even before the Corona pandemic it has been important that museums and institutions keep up with technological developments. What the current situation shows, however, is that we need strategies to make cultural experiences accessible even without a ticket to the museum,” explains project manager Elena Frickmann.

Since the beginning of 2020, MGKSiegen, IMAGINE THE CITY Hamburg, Kestner Gesellschaft Hannover and Museum Marta Herford have been funded by the Fonds Digital of the Kultur Digital program of the German Federal Cultural Foundation. The jury of Fonds Digital selected 15 projects nationwide, which are funded with a total volume of 13.18 million Euro. A total of 36 cultural institutions are supported, including 28 museums, five theaters, two opera houses and one memorial.

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