Hexagram Network – 20th anniversary

In 2021, Hexagram celebrates its 20th anniversary. The network was created in 2001 to support collaborative research-creation projects amongst its members from eight Québec research institutions, as well as with local and international partners from academic, cultural and creative sectors. Over the last 20 years, Hexagram has played a seminal role in the recognition of practice-based art and design research in Canada and abroad, as well as in promoting knowledge-sharing activities between artistic and scientific disciplines. Today, Hexagram comprises 46 co-investigators, nearly 50 collaborators and over 200 students from various disciplines including the live arts, design, and media arts, while also connecting to disciplines in the social sciences and humanities as well as natural sciences and engineering.

In 2020, Hexagram’s mandate was renewed by the Québec Government for an additional 7 years, based on a proposed programme aiming to catalyze collective, interdisciplinary knowledge and to engage publics with cultures and practices that address current urgent and global scientific and technological challenges. In the first year of this new cycle we also saw the arrival of the global pandemic. This context emphasized the necessity to collaboratively propose new knowledge, new imaginaries, and to harness desirable futures in a period that is characterised by profound change and a constant state of emergence/y.

About the theme EMERGENCE/Y – Arts and Sciences for Troubled Times

“We are all living within a world where it is now easier to imagine the collapse of all life than imagine reinventing the right ways to live.”
– Jay Jordan

In 2021, it is now a cliche to say that we have lived through an “unprecedented year” – particularly when the state of the pre-COVID world was in many ways unprecedented. Yet, the combination of the global pandemic and its resulting political-economic fallout, the continuing ecological crises, and the social-cultural explosion of long simmering systemic injustice and inequality have made the entangling of human, machine and natural orders ever more apparent, with radical consequences for all forms of life on this planet. The future appears uncertain, unstable, unsettling and unknown.

How do we respond? Métis and University of Toronto STS scholar Michelle Murphy writes that “assemblies of technical practices have generated not just facts but also speculative phenomena that are a felt part of the world, even if intangible. How do speculative social science [or research-creation] practices produce a world where undecided futures are brought into the present?” Murphy refers to this as “technoscience dreaming.” In other words, in an increasingly uncertain world, how can RC enable us to dream and trial new possible futures? In order to respond with reflection and action to the wicked problems of our global situation, Hexagram will develop a thematic programme of activities that will run from September 2021 to June 2022. We explore the role that research-creation can play, at the broader intersection of the arts and sciences, in tackling these troubled times in order to offer new possibilities, hopes and visions of a more just, equitable and open future.

Exploring hybrid modalities of presentation, discussion, and outreach, this year’s ongoing activities will bring together Hexagram members and current and prospective partners whose approaches are equally dedicated to addressing the current complex challenges through research situated at the intersections of the arts and sciences. Through concepts, ideas and projects we will develop a series of public experiments consisting of hybrid gatherings and discussions, roundtables, reading groups, calls for written and collaborative projects, and a large public facing summit in the spring of 2022.

Hexagram’s 2021-2022 Interdisciplinary season programming on the theme EMERGENCE/Y will launch the week of September 8-12, in the framework of the 2021 edition of the Ars Electronica Festival. Hexagram will present a series of synchronous and asynchronous streaming-based events specifically curated and produced for the Festival. The events and projects were selected by an ad-hoc jury following a call which was open to Hexagram members. Over 50 co-investigator members, student members and Hexagram collaborators, as well as their own collaborators, will contribute their work, research and insightful live discussions to the four-day programme.

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