The new media paradigm is being increasingly globally recognised under different names. It combines art, science, technology and economics. In Swiss CERN, with over 15,000 employees, there is also one of the most distinguished artistic residences in the world – (Collide@CERN) – which operates under the logo of »Great Arts for Great Science«. At the Ph.D. program in Empowerment Informatics of the University of Tsukuba (Japan) emerged the realisation that an exclusively technical aspect of their orientation does not fulfil their ambitions for competitiveness of their programme and as a result their programme has, for the last two years, included Ph.D. students from the field of art; of whom the candidate from Slovenia is Maša Jazbec from Trbovlje.
The Trbovlje New-media City (TNM) leans on the firm tradition of technical intelligence on the one side, and the cultural and artistic avant-garde on the other, aiming to – through the synthesis of technology, science, art and economic initiative – achieve a breakthrough in all the mentioned areas and – in the long term – offer a new identity to the residents of Trbovlje. Our goal is that the first thought of the name of Trbovlje is no longer its mining past and the collapsed industry, but rather a state-of-the-art technology, robotics and new media culture.
The programme of the Trbovlje New-media City began primarily as an art initiative rooted in the co-operation with the Academy of Fine Arts and Design (ALUO), the Faculty of Computer Science and Information Science (FRI) of the Ljubljana University, and Delavski dom Trbovlje (DDT). The programme draws from the good practice of the Ars Electronica Center, from Linz (Austria), where the local authorities – already back in the seventies of the past century – began to strategically invest into linking the domains of art, science and technology – the fundamental principle of new media. During the period of thirty years the city of Linz, developed from a site of collapsing industry into a globally recognised new-media centre whose main pillars are the Ars Electronica Center and the Ars Electronica festival.
In Trbovlje, the TNM’s programme has become recognised primarily through the festival of new media culture, Speculum Artium, domiciled in Delavski dom Trbovlje ever since its beginning in 2009. The festival is majorly funded by the Ministry of Culture. Since the beginning of our festival, the Ministry of Culture has extensively reduced the number of festivals in the new media domain that it supports; however, Speculum Artium being one of the remaining three has been granted an increase in the co-funding on account of its quality, recognizing DDT as the support column of the new media (or put in their words the ‘inter-media’) culture in Slovenia.
In its eight years of existence, the festival has hosted renowned personalities from the domain of high-technology like Prof. Hiroshi Ishiguro or Honda Robotics, or artists employing cutting edge technologies in their artistic endeavours, such as Stelarc. The ties established at the academic level, with prominent national institutions such as ALUO, FRI or the Institute “Jožef Stefan”, FERI and the School of Arts of the University of Nova Gorica are of utmost importance. Furthermore, we are especially proud of our international bonds with the Interface Cultures Programme at the Kunstuniversität Linz, Future Lab at the Ars Electronica Center, the Program in Empowerment Informatics, at the University of Tsukuba (Japan), the Institute for Advanced Media Arts and Sciences – IAMAS (Japan), ZKM (Germany) and numerous others.
One of the crucial objectives of our TNM programme is to disseminate new-media awareness. Our first attempts in this particular area reach back into 2012, when – with the project called KULT and together with the Youth Centre Trbovlje – we guided the youth along their first steps in the field of contemporary visual arts. Since 2014, DDT annually collaborates also with the High School and School of Economics Trbovlje (GESŠ) in their educational enterprise (the technician of economics programme), within which they learn about promotion by contemporary means/tools. The fruit of our collaboration are also several works that have been awarded. In 2015, DDT started a series of systematic educational programmes at both secondary schools in Trbovlje. At the GESŠ we held a series of workshops within the school subject of Compulsory Free Choice Course, while at the Trbovlje Secondary Technical and Vocational School (STPŠ) the subject of »new media creativity« has been listed in the school’s regular curriculum.
However, neither art nor sciences are hermetic or independent systems. Both are inevitably interwoven with other social sub-systems, hence also with the technological and economic ones, so the TNM programme aims much wider than just to the field of artistic and scientific research. In the fusion of technology, science and art there lies an outstanding potential for economic development. Delavski dom Trbovlje has been collaborating with the most influential local companies such as Dewesoft, Chipolo, RUDIS, Aereform, GNS, as well as with institutions representing economy or that provide support or educate for the field of entrepreneurship, among them the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia, regional chambers of craft and small businesses, with Katapult (the subsidiary of Dewesoft, supporting start-ups), with GESŠ, and Youth Centre Trbovlje. The TNM programme can therefore act as a meeting point of all these subjects, where in their direct or indirect exchange and sharing of their experience new ideas emerge that can lead to a new economic breakthrough.
The TNM programme is an overarching movement, an awareness of the entire community of the direction Trbovlje and the wider Zasavje region can expand to; the awareness that does no longer identify with the collapsed heavy industry and the closed-down mines. Trbovlje New-media City is becoming an awareness of the orientation into the future where, in a dynamic equilibrium, and prevalently targetedly oriented, co-operate the left – the so-called “rational” and the right – the “irrational” brain hemisphere; the science and art, aimed to progress and a better future.