Somerset House Studios’ Channel, alternative pathways for creation & discourse, Juliette Wallace, δημοσίευση CLOT Magazine [18/2/2023]
Circumstance dictates action. Pathways are created in accordance with necessity: a trajectory can abruptly change direction and carve out new channels in response to what is being navigated. These ‘channels’ – if built with the right vision and gusto – are ripe to become both routes of discovery and settings for inter-directional change. Often times these forced changes by virtue of circumstance are a blessing in disguise, a means by which to explore new realms. Einstein was famously a fan of this approach, and he coined the term “necessity is the mother of all invention”, which he declared off the back of Plato’s original statement of the same sentiment.
We recently found ourselves, on a global level, in a state of necessity for invention in dealing with the Covid 19 pandemic. As a result of the context of isolation and fear, new channels of thought and action were carved out, and boundaries were crossed. The division between physical and virtual realms took on a new character, giving rise to innovative responses across fields, including technology and health. Digital tools for diagnostics and treatment gained prominence as a way to reduce the spread of infection and cope with the shifting demands placed on healthcare systems. The response by the general public was mixed, and artists and cultural sectors saw an opportunity to respond through their own digital platforms. One of these cultural institutions was Somerset House – the 18th-century neoclassical complex in the heart of London, home to over 200 artists and creatives.
The innovative and appropriately titled Channel was born in September 2022 as Somerset House’s new curated online space for art, ideas and the artistic process. As the name suggests, Channel represents alternative pathways for creation, contemplation and discourse within the context of one of London’s most established historic institutions; in Eleanor Scott’s (Head of Digital)own words: the platform present[s] newly commissioned cross-disciplinary works, as well as exploring and unpacking the artistic process and ideas that drive them. As part of this online realm, residency opportunities were introduced with specific focuses and goals. The PATH-AI residency program was one of these and has proven to be both a stimulant for important discourse amongst technology, medicine and cultural experts and a means for the interpretation and expression of these discussions by international artists.
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