The “Big Picture” Wrapup; and a New Chapter for Essinova
September 10, 2016 § Leave a comment
Started as a review of Q1 2016 news reflecting the technology, culture and economics confluence, the Big Picture series has extended well into Q3. In the meantime, world affairs have been taking troubling turns, with one shocking news story after another. The unstoppable Fourth Industrial Revolution, itself complex with mixed implications, is now juxtaposed on top of precarious geopolitical and social dynamics potentially affecting the world at large.
A recent article on these themes particularly resonated with me: “History tells us what may happen next with Brexit & Trump,” by Tobias Stone, entrepreneur, investor, writer and innovation scholar. As with Eric Weiner’s time travel back to Athens for historical insights in The Geography of Genius, Stone’s background in archeology affords him a macroscopic view onto anthropological patterns which enables a more insightful prediction of where the world might be headed. “We humans have a habit of going into phases of mass destruction, generally self imposed to some extent or another,” he says, “and another such stupid season might very well be ahead of us.”
Historical patterns have sobering inevitability, and the bad case scenario could sadly become reality. With hell in Syria, mess in Europe, violence and “Trumpism” in the U.S., terrorists everywhere, and WWIII not inconceivable, let alone ongoing challenges such as climate woes and health crises, it may seem art and creativity are too frivolous or low-priority for solvers of “serious” problems.
Here again, though, history provides vision. As Graham Greene poignantly remarked about Italy, “for 30 years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance.” The Florence as we know it emerged from Black Death that devastated Europe. As one of many paradoxes of the human condition (and as my friend, cultural historian Piero Scaruffi would point out), creativity often spikes in periods of great instability.
That certainly does not mean that we should embrace human disasters. What it does mean, is we should not let them go to waste. Stone posits that there may not be much we can do to stop the wheel of history the way it wants to go, a view that many would consider pessimistic. He also points out that, on the other hand, “a defining feature of humans is their resilience”. Whatever scenario becomes reality, “humans will come out the other side, recover, and move on.” As individuals we may be killed by one thing or another, but collectively the human race will be “fine, changed, maybe better.”
In spite of this fatalistic view, we have no choice but to still actively do our best, for our conscience, principles or life purpose, regardless of the outcome. I would also argue that in times like these, art and culture play an even more crucial role in reaching people in ways logic and reason do not, and bridging the ever widening social divides.
Speaking of which, we can all be more mindful of symbiotic development. Li Ka Shing, business magnet, investor, philanthropist and one of the most powerful figures in Asia, put it nicely in his recent commencement speech at Shantou University in Guangdong (which was founded in the 1980’s with his donations): “Science and technology are cornerstones of high growth. Human creativity is the engine. Social inclusion is the fuel. Only with all three, can we enjoy dividends from a virtuous cycle.”
New Essinova – an interdisciplinary creative agency, at the nexus of Art, Innovation and Society
It is in this spirit of symbiosis and virtuous cycle, that I announce a new chapter of Essinova. Many of you know of Essinova as a media communications agency promoting health and environmental innovation. Some of you have been following our more recent side project exploring the intersection of art and science. Building upon these experiences, we are now evolving into an interdisciplinary creativity agency. In collaboration with world-class institutions, organizations, educators and polymathic geniuses and teams, we fuse the leading edge across art, science, culture, technology and management, to catalyze innovation and enhance product design, consumer experience and company culture.
As the world enters an exponentially more complex and connected future, industry lines are blurring; strategic redesigns are requiring art-like synthesis. We believe tomorrow’s winning businesses must adopt the concept of ‘art-thinking’, from solution design to marketing. We believe art is not only beautiful; its ability to critique and imaginative freedom are an active agent of change to help shape the world.
Two events taking place this month, which Essinova is co-organizing or contributing to, are perfect examples demonstrating art’s power in revealing, explaining and catalyzing the future.
Stay tuned. We can hardly contain our excitement!
- Announcing “Art, Science and Innovation: a Neural Connection” – Essinova Salon and a pop-up gallery, at SAP Labs! (SAVE THE DATE: September 29, 6-9pm, AppHaus, Palo Alto)
- “RADICAL ATOMS and the alchemists of our time… and what comes after self-driving cars and the internet of things?” – Essinova is going to Ars Electronica Festival 2016, as Development Partner of Tsinghua University!