Text by Zoe Robaey and Shannon Spruit
The Impact! Exhibition is a collection of 11 visual works reflecting ethical concerns with new technologies in society. The artworks are TU Delft students’ creations resulting from their participation in the Impact Competition that ran from March to June 2015. During the program, students met with local artists and philosophers to discuss different aspects of their fields. They developed an object to depict their ethical concerns. The project had to be imaginative, ethically relevant, and engaging to the public. They span concerns of privacy, to sustainability, to essential questions of what life is. The impetus for this educational experiment was to teach ethics in a different way, as it has become a mandatory topic in most TU Delft curricula.
As one of the goals of the Impact! competition was public engagement, the exhibition at the library allows us to do just that. The exhibition is now set-up in a space through which countless numbers of TU Delft students will move and interact with the artworks. Together with Marion Vredeling and Harry Hoek, we installed the artworks in a way that invites people to take a stroll and discover these unique student’s project. We were pleased to see, how already during the set-up of the exhibition students were stopping by on their way back from getting a coffee and asking us questions about what we were doing. Most of them had never heard of the Impact! Competition, and they knew nothing about the existence of our section and our work with engineers. It was also very important for us to show TU Delft students that these works were done by their peers. So each description of the pieces presented also has the field of study of the author, with the hope to give TU Delft students inspiration to see that they too can do that sort of reflection on their field of study.
In addition this new edition of the Impact! Exhibition, is multi-dimensional thanks to a co-creation process with curator Marion Vredeling of the TU Delft Library and Harry Hoek from the Rotterdam Public Library. First, we put a lot of thought into how to put the items on display, i.e. the flow of the works and the balance between the standing pieces, and the ones on walls. Second, we selected videos that inspired us and our students and set them up in a video display. There, you can see a dance performance where dancers interact with animations, or another one where performers interact with wind turbines, and you can discover how an artist uses DNA to create portraits. And last but not least, together with curator Marion Vredeling, we selected a number of relevant books from the collection of the library. We had to put stickers on all the books, so that students would not run away with them! Indeed, while we were setting up, one student’s interest was piqued and he was about to borrow the book. Having this display opens the horizon of students who would normally, like we all would do, go straight to the book they need, and not necessarily browse and discover new topics of interest. Also, a few of these books are written or edited by professors at our department. Indeed, TU Delft is one of the world’s leading centres for engineering ethics.
We hope visitors will enjoy the exhibition and will be brought to reflect and discuss with their peers on the role of engineers in society!
The Impact! exhibition – Ethical reflection through art, experience and interaction – is hosted from 14 October to 16 December 2015 at the TU Delft Library.