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Missing: The role of digital transformation in making the “art-world” more CO2 neutral

It seems that the discussion about the impact of the art world on the climate crisis is finally here. Just like “Welt am Sonntag” in its latest issue (Nr. 2, January 12th 2020, or this frieze article), major papers and their respective feuilletons pick up the topic to dis(s)-cuss art world players extreme flying behaviour and the culture of the globalised art world.

 

So finally, there is some movement in the game here. And yes, it is good to show how bad things are, but what I miss is a general discussion about the tools and solutions provided by digitalisation in 2020. Digitalisation would not just help reduce the carbon dioxide emissions, but also take a massive step towards democratising the art world.

 

The link between the topics of digitalisation and the ability to reduce CO2 impact is often missed in discussions. Ever growing blockbuster art shows lead to ever more visitors (with the visitor numbers being the holy grail of museum existence), more shipping of artworks, and C02 emissions by art world clientele that travels there. There needs to be a change in leadership as well as in goal setting, and some players are realising this. So why not use digital transformation as a way to enhance your reach and audience (even if not by physical visitors)? Physical presence is not everything. I understand that the art world has, historically speaking, intrinsic aspects of pilgrimage, social encounters and global networking. But isn’t digitalisation just another way to do just that?

 

Perhaps it is the lack of technical knowledge that leads to the missing key, maybe it is the lack of vision, but precise digitalisation strategies could potentially be the best of both worlds! And yes, you might want to host on server farms that are using renewable energy sources (https://aws.amazon.com/about-aws/sustainability/) but also do ask critical questions about data and CO2-emissions. (My next blog topic?)

 

I am yet to see well-executed integrative thinking that does not regard “online” solely as a tool to communicate opening times or marketing efforts. It has the potential to be so much more!

 

There are huge opportunities missed, even by players that you would expect to have at least some sort of digital knowledge. Like, how on earth are panels about “Climate change denial” held by people flown-in to the event and not executed via live stream?