This was STATE OF TIME
The first edition of STATE Festival, STATE OF TIME, brought the international science, art and cultural scene together for four days in Berlin, October 2014, to celebrate scientific ideas and artistic expression under a unifying theme: Time. What exactly constitutes time? And what does it mean in the context of the universe? What defines or affects our personal experience of time? How do different cultures and different individuals relate to time?
DAYS 1 & 2: Satelite Film Festival
The festival kicked off with two evenings of film screenings at Platoon Kunsthalle, a cultural venue in Berlin’s Mitte district. The film program, curated in partnership with Imagine Science Films (NY) was an eclectic collection of 36 recent short and feature length festival films from 13 countries, all exploring ideas of Time. A highlight of the program was the European premiere of the award-winning UK art-science feature documentary ‘The Creeping Garden’, followed by audience Q&A with co-director and producer Tim Grabham.
DAYS 3 & 4: Main Event
For the next 2 days the Alte Münze, a former mint in Berlin's central Mitte district, became home to the STATE Festival main event. Its mix of control rooms, abandoned office suites and large machine halls were converted into interactive exhibition spaces, workshop studios, auditorium, and main stage hall. The vibe around the central courtyard and main stage hall with bar and streetfood was open and relaxed, with plenty of space to digest and get deep about big ideas through the days and late into the nights.
Friday daytime: Art/Science Forum
We opened the festival on Friday with a dedicated Art-Science forum session - critical discussions exploring the ins and outs of art/science collaboration, from the tales of practitioners to the frameworks and initiatives that support art/science collaboration at the local, national and international level.
Friday evening on: The weekend starts here
From Friday evening as the weekend got rolling we shifted the focus back to the festival theme, time. Different formats gave us the flexibility to create different experiences and bring all kinds of perspectives to the topic.
In the auditorium a line-up of seven scientific talks spread over the two days covered intriguing discoveries and big ideas from across the spectrum of the sciences, from chronobiology, to general relativity, to the depiction of time in language. With an emphasis as much on personality, accessibility and great storytelling as scientific renown, our speakers each time were treated to a packed audience of enthusiastic non-specialists.
The exhibition was at the heart of the festival and showcased the works of 10 young international artists. Each piece offered a different way – literal, conceptual, or metaphorical – to engage with or experience the idea of time. The pieces included projections, interactive objects, and installations, and ranged from purely artistic takes on the topic to interdisciplinary works at the intersection of art and science. Film was also brought into the main festival exhibition space with the installation ‘MicroCinema’: nine short film loops, screened on small screens with headphones, presented impressions of time unfolding at the microscopic level.
The opportunity to engage directly with ideas around the theme were an important part of the STATE experience and we had developed several ways that created the spaces for this to happen. Five fully-booked workshops explored time in a very hands-on way, with concepts varying from training in mindfulness meditation, to design-thinking, to DIY science. Meanwhile, in the playful ‘Time Bureau’, mediator consultants role-played visitors through standardised tests to reveal how their individual time perspective influences their decision-making and maybe even their happiness, based on the work of famous US psychologist Philip Zimbardo. In a specially constructed white box in the middle of the main stage hall, over 200 people, sworn to secrecy, took part in the mysterious STATE Experiment. The project, developed together with researchers from the University of Minho, Portugal, gathered data for their study on how attraction affects the perception of time.
By evening the main exhibition space shifted focus to performance, uniting the festival in a programme of contemporary classical music, dance, and the official closing party with live audiovisual and DJ sets.
A big thank you to everyone involved who helped to make the festival happen: our participants, partners, sponsors, media partners, supporters and volunteers! After its successful debut, STATE Festival is working towards establishing itself as a permanent platform for interdisciplinary activities at the intersection of science and art in 2015 and beyond.