Walking on the Left Bank of the Seine
Remembering a chat with Nicolas
It is Friday on a bank-holiday weekend. Enjoy this well earned break…
Having a day off to walk along the Seine, the Canal Saint Martin or a main avenue somewhere in Paris is really refreshing these days. People are happier than ever to enjoy the sun outside. The fact that restaurants, cafés and bars are getting ready, that they are building terraces out of wood to open again next week. Evereything starts to look like Paris again. Finally we see glimpses of human, social, but mostly cultural happenings about to happen. I can‘t wait and, I think, so do you!
Yesterday, on one of my daily „thinking-promenades“ with Pollock, my weimaraner, I happened to pass by the Rosa Bonheur and than Fluctuart boats on the left bank of the Seine. That brought up memories of some interesting discussion, exhibitions and evenings with friends. But it also reminded me of an exchange I had with Nicolas Laugero Lasserre, a well known and unmissable presence in the cultural scene of Paris and founding member of the latter museum and bar. Here is that chat about cultural practice, its transformation and how to teach it… Food for thought from of our thouthtleaders on a longer weekend…
You once mentioned that one of today’s challenges is the digitalization of culture, in order to allow and grant broader access. What challenges do you predict for this transition process to be different to the general digital transformation happening everywhere today?
NLL : Digitalization can sometimes be seen as a scary thing as it transforms the relation with creation. This includes our habits to live cultural practice in a collective manner. Digitalization often entails individualization, because even as a group of several people online, we somehow remain alone in front of our single screens. On the other hand, digitalization of access to culture by means of streaming services for music or audiovisual and cinematic platforms allow a massive and global access to these works and all of that at a very low cost. It is therefore not really about the digitalization of art-works, but of the means of access,marking the big transformation. The challenge for cultural actors is therefore to adapt rather quickly.
This digital transformation is more subtle in our sector since it is about transforming a relation with what represents the essence of humanity and its millenary history : art, as well as cultural and artistic practice.
Besides the introduction of digital tools to store and stream culture onto our devices, what other more innovative directions would you like to see happening or developing?
NLL : A profound transformation of art-works will be the logical sequel to the transformation of human beings and artists. NFT’s are particularly interesting. They represent a new way of collecting. It is not about collecting physical objects, but solely the property of a work of art nonetheless public and accessible for everybody.
Now, is buying exclusive property that is accessible to everybody, to be seen as a philanthropic or egocentric act? It may be just a commercial or speculative move, as the property remains transferable, thus sellable…
Thierry Raspail stated in 2014, that art (or culture) education would mostly be done through the use of internet. The net, like artists today, often manipulates information (original cit: images). Raspail explains the success of contemporary art museums with the establishment of this practice of information (cit. image) and screen, shared between the artist and young people from all over the world. How could this experience of an open exchange between an artist or maker with young people be transferred to other forms or areas of culture or education?
NLL : Instagram is a very illustrative example, permitting millions of artists to connect with their public and share their creations and emotions. One can notice that the best and the worst are steadily rubbing shoulders.
Once again, the digital represents dazzling means of democratisation and accessibility to culture. I experience it on a daily basis with Elliot, my 6 year old son. We can let him discover all types of music from all over the world, as well as fantastic animation movies of Studio Ghilbi from Japan, such as “The Wind Rises” or “Castle in the Sky” by Hayao Miyazaki.
We currently experience a post-internet culture of appropriation, reinterpretation and up-cycling of products, information and knowledge. It’s clever results are often not scholarly knowledge, thanks to (or because of) which western museums and schools were built. They are something else.
As a School Director how do you approach this “new” type of knowledge? How do you transmit the scholarly old-school knowledge, while keeping up with its younger, more contemporary cousin?
NLL : Why teach or transmit, if all the knowledge is accessible online? Because the passion and the emotion of humans is unrivaled by the machine.
How to find an equilibrium between, on one side essential theoretical knowledge, and on the other the indispensable competences and skills? I am very sorry about a certain failure of universities, as they represent our common good. How can one create that much inequality by refusing to professionalise too many programs and students? The intellectual void of several business-schools is not more enviable either.
In front of such findings a real and good balance needs to be imposed : Transmitting the right contemporary professional skills, but based on a solide general and artistic culture.
Nicolas, thank you very much for this instructive exchange.