Ferdi Alici, Director of OUCHHH Studio
Malak Abu-Qaoud, Arts, Culture & Events Manager at ICD Brookfield Place Dubai
Alejandro Cardoso Mendoza, Global CEO & Managing Partner at MASSIVart Latin America
During this panel, the three speakers talked about the interaction between art, real estate and urban planning. Rather than simply discussing public art and urbanism, the approach was done from the angle of creative placemaking as an overarching concept.
Alejandro opened with this quote: “What is the definition of placemaking? “The process of creating quality places that people want to live in, work at, play and learn in”. Placemaking is an ongoing process that starts with an idea and flows to the execution to create quality spaces and quality cities through quality neighbourhoods. In plain words: quality places”.
A quality place, as defined by Ann Markusen and Anne Gadwa, “offers efficient transportation, broadband, mix space use, housing options, recreation, green areas, health and schools infrastructure, and yes, art and culture. A quality place resulting from creative placemaking must be safe, accessible, connected and sociable”.
Malak answered quickly by mentioning that many studies have shown that placemaking within a development project attracts people and tenants. This is exactly what they’re trying to achieve at ICD Brookfield Place; having space where you can live, work, breathe and play. It adds economic value to a real estate property and a human value because you’re building a landmark where it allows people to come, meet and share. Art fosters that conversation and makes it become a place to be, so automatically, developers and tenants will find value in it.
For Ferdi, and from his artistic perspective, the question is, how profitable value is calculated and not meaningful value, attempting to define everything with numbers. One needs to put a balance between that beneficial value and meaningful value together, making great art.
Malak continued by saying that the earlier the art is integrated into a development, the more it sets the tone and the standards for what’s to be expected. Bringing in artists and companies like MASSIVart at an early stage of the master plan, the better the overall project will be impacted! Working closely with architects, urban planners & clients from the inception will essentially create the base play for what you’re building. Through those architects, designers, and art consultants who really understand how art is built and how it’s supposed to be shown. This is how well-curated projects work seamlessly for and with the community and brings the most out of the experience.
For Ferdi, it’s really hard for the artist to get together with a large-scale client. This is why the role of companies like MASSIVart is so essential to build the bridge between the artist and the client: not so many artists can handle the whole process to bring an art integration project to life.
Malak further mentioned that you need the right ingredients from the very beginning to organically develop a space that people want to be a part of. It takes a lot of expertise and a lot of passion. The project done at ICD Brookfield Place with MASSIVart and Ouchhh created a lot of demand to directly benefit the value of the building. It automatically attracted new tenants while maintaining the existing ones: this is quantitative and qualitative ROI. Malak ended by saying that the difference between a good development and a great development is people and creating communities for people.
Ferdi shared an interesting data point that alone can answer the question of economic impact in the affirmative: Ouchhh had an exhibition in Paris, Poetic AI in 2018. More than 1 million people experienced it in 9 months! Artists are more and more working with clients like Brookfield because now they are really interested in increasing the overall value of their assets through public art. The founder of Ouchhh Studio highlighted the fact that art has a massive impact on people and that data art can be used for functional purposes, for smarter cities. Their goal is to elevate a new economy with public art based on communities.
For Malak, public art is a communal activity. It brings people together while also supporting the local art scene, as they offer their building as a platform for regional emerging and established artists to showcase their work. It automatically changes how people interact with space. People spend most of their time at work, so, in an office building with commercial areas like ICD Brookfield Place. Malak says that they’re trying to step away from “this is a workplace” to “this is a place for collaboration & fostering conversation” to create a different environment where people can think of different ways of innovating.
The Arts, Culture & Events Manager went further by saying that ICD Brookfield Place is not just a brick-and-mortar office building but they’re also a community offering a safe and inclusive space. Public art is vital because of this inclusivity to relate to it and engage with it. Malak gave a great example of that: on the night of DATAMONOLITH_AI opening, the giant black LED screens had just been installed with the huge reflective floor, and the minute the video went on, the night shift crew – cleaners, security – came swarming into the room holding up their phones to take pictures and videos, looking at it and being so immersed and excited. This is precisely what Brookfield’s criteria was: delivering an art-driven experience that would automatically engage everyone.
For this point, Ferdi explained that in the past, persistent advances in technology continued to boost the development of art forms. There is no exception for painting sculpture, music or photography. Science and scientific ideas have long inspired art and artists, from Picasso and Leonardo da Vinci to Dali and Samuel Morse. They demonstrated how scientific ideas can inspire impeccable art.
Ferdi continued by refocusing the answer on his own practice within Ouchhh, saying that every art project starts with big, meaningful questions. Their main question for DATAMONOLITH_AI in Dubai was: “What would happen if the consciousness of the world’s oldest ancient origins data and AI came together for a hybrid architectural public art?”. They collaborated with scientists and academics to create this hybrid data sculpture and then built up their team to include data scientists, AI coders and animation designers. Tech and science are in their process from beginning to end.
Finally, the panel concluded on this question. Ferdi explained that the “art behaviour” is totally changing. It’s not elitist anymore, it’s easily accessible for everyone. Now people really enjoy having immersive experiences and seeing public art. For him, we are living the future of the arts: with new technologies and social media, you can access art everywhere, anytime. Data is the new gold, and if you can bring together data, AI and science within public art, you are unique.