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Faisal Anwar


Collective Imagination: now and the next.

“Karachi, like other major emerging cosmopolitan cities around the world is at the cusp of the digital revolution, is increasingly generating, connecting and speaking in the language of digital data. As a city with one of the largest and most diverse populations in the world, and being the economic, philanthropic, and educational capital of Pakistan, this voracious consumer of technology, with a population that is primarily youth, initially began to use technology to compensate for a dysfunctional communication infrastructure. Today with its experimental thrust it has begun to navigate the 4IR (Fourth Industrial Revolution) narrative, which seeks new ways of making technology an intrinsic and perhaps symbiotic part of human experience.

For Karachi Biennale 2022, I am investigating the possibilities to conceptualize the digital liminal space as an innovation corridor of creative encounters and a site of symbolic empowerment and agency. Our innate desire to form social connections and relationships is going through an unprecedented shift.

According to Gerd Leonhard, a futurist speaker and author, “Our world is going to change more in the next 20 years than in the previous 300 years”. The technological transformation characterized by big data, artificial intelligence, blockchain / crypto currency and automation can’t be a panacea for all the problems caused by unchecked economic growth, exploitation of natural resources and denial of climate change. Furthermore, the ethical assessment of emerging technologies concerns the broader
debate around issues such as privacy, security, and even exacerbated racial, ethnic and economic disparities.

This shift also spurred new conversations that have blurred the lines between the real and the fabricated. What are the implications of excessive use of digital mediums and devices on our learning, perceptions, assumptions, and opinions? How is the 4IR shaping our borderless 24/7 society? Furthermore, during the COVID-19 pandemic, technology and digital tools have been the driving force in further forcing us to reimage how we live, work, play and communicate; they have generated social andoccupational changes that will likely continue even after the crisis has passed.

This parallel reality, being normalized as vital and urgent, has become an intrinsic part of our current human experience with each other and the cities we inhabit. Are today’s societies forming new territories, spaces and conversations which are transitional and transformative?

As the avant-gardes of humanism and harbingers of progressive socio-cultural change, arts have the potential to bridge the physical and imaginative worlds, recognize innovation and harness the power of technology. From the Islamic Golden Age and European Renaissance art to Contemporary and the New Media art, artists as alchemists, scientists, engineers and creative innovators have embraced technology to find original and creative ways of expression. Today, the Hybrid Art is an evolving digital art movement that is posing many exciting possibilities, from concept to display and engagement, while prompting questions around the evolving role of the artist.

The intersection of art and technology gave rise to a new global wave of artist-led start-ups, art practices and creative collaborations that are transforming conversations, exploring new territories, creating hybrid spaces, and influencing how we will make art for years to come.

For Karachi Biennale 2022, I am inviting artists, designers, technologists, engineers, and researchers to collaborate and seek engagement with technology by galvanizing dialogue, awareness, critique and a sense of possibility. Harnessing the transformative power of technology, time, arts and the imagination, KB22 will present innovative ideas, projects and practices that articulate and visualize new connections between the real, the physical and the virtual world.”