THE NEW EUROPE
When the digital world allows us to create and track multiple identities, when governments think of their citizens as data, we imagined an experience for citizens to directly choose identities and values, composing their own future Europe. As Europe’s population and borders are increasingly diverse could all of us residents, immigrants alike help shape a new Europe? We opened a physical space and we invited people to consider this issues.
The New Europe’s interactive journey follows a path through a custom pop-up pavilion, where participants collaborate to create a new fingerprint, an alternative statement about their group's collective identity and perspective on European values. We begin by giving each group of visitors a "passport" that they will share as an input machine as they move through the three spaces of the pop-up - where they define their identity, values and sense of collective.
Identity In this first room, they will negotiate with one another to create a new identity, while seeing this identity reflected in an immersive distortion of light. As they place themselves on the sliders, a visualisation begins to build, arc by arc.
Listen | Values
In the next room, the group continues to build the arcs that compose their collective fingerprint. As they make certain choices on their sliders, they hear challenging statements from underneath the dome. These statements are culled from current affairs to historical documentaries, from politicians to everyday citizens. The issues represent a continuum of values as stated in the pamphlet Europe in 12 Lessons. Each voice has a slightly different perspective to share. The values that the group negotiates are not necessarily polar opposites - instead, they (and their associated voices) demonstrate crucial tensions.
Part-Whole | Border
Finally, after one last question, the explorers reach the last area - looking at their own "fingerprint" as it fits into a big grid of all the participants who have left an input thus far. This viewing area is in a hammock, a story above the previous input areas, allowing for a keen potential for reflection, sociality and relaxed discussion of why and how each fingerprint might have turned out as it did.
Postcards to Europe
On their way down the steps from the hanging platform, visitors were invited to leave a postcard with their hopes for Europe - or for the "New Europe" that they had been part of creating. Here are some of their inputs.
The New Europe | A Living Lab is one in a series of living labs created in association with the European Network of Cultural Centres - to experiment, co-create and test the interventions we are designing as part of our research for CoHERE. CIID Research's living lab supports our focus on how digital and creative-practice interventions can help investigate questions around European identity, heritage and dialogue on sensitive topics.
If in the future, inhabitable land will be increasingly scarce, and increasingly diverse people need to live in increasingly closer proximity, can new approaches help us to shift from tolerating change to conscious co-existence? Through the New Europe Living Lab, we seek to inspire reflection and evaluation regarding the present state of identity, values and belonging, taking you on an interactive journey to generate new outlooks for an ever-changing Europe.
In terms of methods, we conducted a series of expert interviews and readings about interactive feedback tools for visitors. We tested and refined the specific wording and types of information that visitors might need in order to give meaningful answers and interact with the concepts smoothly. Participants in the New Europe ranged from the very young to the very old, with a wide diversity of backgrounds and nationalities. We placed the living lab in a very ethnic neighborhood of Copenhagen where many immigrants lived alongside Danish young families. The entry was free and therefore many people simply wandered in as well as being invited over specific social media channels. We had over 100 inputs and documented the results in both data and one on one interviews.
Annelie Berner & Monika Seyfried