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Culturelink review, no.21/April 1997 - contents - imprint - archive

A New Space for Culture and Society
(New Ideas in Science and Art)

Culture, Communication and New Technologies
The Impact of New Technologies on European Culture

The international conference on A New Space for Culture and Society (New Ideas in Science and Art) took place in Prague, 19-23 November 1996, under the auspices of Mr. Václav Havel, President of the Czech Republic, and in the organization of the Council of Europe. The objective was to discuss some of the major trends in art and science today, with experts in various fields, particularly those concerned with the fundamental transformations taking place in certain areas of knowledge and the effect of those changes on contemporary culture and society. The role of communications and new communications technologies was in the focus of interest.

In his inaugural address, Mr. Peter Leuprecht, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, noted that we live in an age of far-reaching transformations (collapse of communism, globalization of economy, impact of new communications technologies, etc.), which produce new forms of interaction and cooperation. In the prologue to the conference, which he was unable to attend, Professor Ilya Prigogine stressed: 'We are on the threshold of a new chapter in the history of knowledge that will require new institutions and new concepts.'

The conference met in plenary sessions, which proved a good arrangement, as each participant was thus able to take part in the discussion of all three topics that the conference debated: 1. The New Space of Science (with the main papers dealing with the new scientific paradigm, fractal geometry and the representation of nature, changing scientific perspectives, chaos theory, art and science - parallel spaces); 2. Art and the New Space (the role of the artist in defining the new space, the new art space, the artist and his tools, the new emerging culture); 3. Society and the Impact of New Ideas (new definitions of reality, interactive space and collective intelligence, technology, instability and culture).

Each of these sessions was preoccupied with the question of communication and new information and communications technologies. The participants took a critical view of the new technologies in the light of their occasionally negative impact on cultures, but they agreed, on the whole, that such technologies can and must be used for the benefit of society and culture. This is particularly important from the standpoint of the inclusion/exclusion of particular societies in international communication, the use of language, etc. A gap was noted between science/technology, the culture of power, on the one hand, and art, the culture of meaning, on the other. In the twenty-first century, art will have the importance that science had in the twentieth century. The question is whether there is a barrier (cloisonnement) between science and culture, whether the relationship between them is one of a parallel vision or interaction. It is precisely science and art that enable us to play with the new space. We live different realities today, there is a plurality of realities. The wealth of ideas and issues discussed during this conference showed that we do, indeed, live at the time of deep change, in the focus of which - as noted by Mr. Raymond Weber in his closing speech - is Man with his responsibility, his destiny, and his dependence on the other.

This issue of the Culturelink Dossier includes selected chapters from three of the studies presented at the conference.

Monika Pajerová

Contact address:
Ms. Monika Pajerová
Cultural Policy and Action Division
Council of Europe
F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex, France
tel.: (33 3) 88 41 29 58;
fax: (33 3) 88 41 27 53.


  • New Definitions of Reality
    by S. J. Schmidt
  • The Second Flood
    by Pierre Lévy
  • The New Space of Communication, the Interface with Culture and Artistic Creativity
    by Don Foresta, Alain Mergier, Bernhard Serexhe