facebook open arts

How Can Artists Explore New Technologies While Grappling With Sustainability?

Clearly, technological innovations are changing the way art is created and shared, enabling artists to reach new audiences beyond the conventional boundaries of the art world. To wit: Facebook Open Arts has partnered with the Helsinki Biennial, the world’s first art biennial with sustainability at its core, making its program available not only for people in Finland, but also for audiences online and around the world.

Artists of all kinds are increasingly leveraging the latest tech developments to express their most urgent ideas, often grappling with issues of sustainability, social justice, and technology itself. Recently, Midnight Publishing Group News’s Europe Editor Kate Brown moderated a panel exploring sustainability in art and technology. Participants explored the moral and ethical challenges faced by new-media artists—and asked what the limits of digital art’s ability to address urgent contemporary issues are as well.


  • Samir Bhowmik, Helsinki-based multi-disciplinary artist and Helsinki Biennial participant
  • Stephanie Dinkins, transmedia artist currently in residence with Facebook Open Arts & AI Team
  • Josephine Kelliher, Experiences Lead, Facebook Open Arts
  • Patrik Söderlund, founding member of artist duo IC-98 and Helsinki Biennial participant

Watch the full talk here.

From left: Kate Brown, Patrik Söderlund, Josephine Kelliher, Stephanie Dinkins, and Samir Bhowmik.

From left: Kate Brown, Patrik Söderlund, Josephine Kelliher, Stephanie Dinkins, and Samir Bhowmik.

In this conversation, you’ll hear:

  • Stephanie Dinkins on why it’s important for artists to engage with Artificial Intelligence: “I think art brings new perspectives. I’m a novice, a tinkerer—someone who plays in this space, not someone who knows this space. I have very different questions than the engineer. I think it’s really valuable for artists to be able to lead in this way of questioning from the outside in. We don’t have the luxury to not be involved. My own fear is that communities of color in particular are going to get left behind if we fear the system so much that we just step out of it. And the question is what can we do now to pave the way so that people can work in it deeply, understanding that they have a role to play in trying to help craft the future?”
  • Samir Bhowmik on the role of empathy in art and technology: “We relate to technology as an apathetic and indifferent tool, but it’s pretty ingrained in our lives. It’s around us—it’s in the forest, it’s on the island. There’s nothing called nature as such anymore. You have to also consider that technology also comes from within us—it’s part of our universe, and we are part of it. So my approach to this is always to take it all in—not fight it, but to work with it, and to kind of carve it, and sculpt it, and shape it, and choreograph it in ways we can understand it and deal with it better. That’s all we can do now.”
  • Patrik Söderlund on addressing the climate crisis in his work: “If I’m critiquing or talking or worried about the climate crisis, obviously I don’t want to be part in creating it or furthering it. But I’m battling with this all the time. At the moment, we’re working on this huge landscape park, which is being planned on the site of an abandoned iron mine in northern Finland. Most of our working group is in the south, so it turns out we have to constantly travel there. And then I have to ask myself, ‘Is it better to do something, or is it better not to do anything?’ It’s a difficult question. In our practice we have made this compromise that maybe 50 percent of our output is filmmaking or animation or something like that, and the other 50 percent is projects which are site-specific. So I hope we are at least able to maintain some kind of balance.
  • Josephine Kelliher on Big Tech’s role in art and culture: “What artists are doing is so important to the world, and we saw this over the period of the pandemic—how thirsty we were for those things that fill the soul up, and how much we felt the absence of important conversations, encounters, and engagement. So I think the most important thing is that technology companies are recognizing their duty of care to the cultural industries, and showing up for them—to put themselves in a space of listening and learning from artists here and now. That’s the ambition we have at Facebook Open Arts—not to catch up after the fact or pretend that we’re ahead, but to be in a space of learning, and to walk with the artists as they explore, as they tinker, as they disrupt.”

Follow Midnight Publishing Group News on Facebook:

The Art Angle Podcast: How a Tech Giant Helped Helsinki Create the Biennial of the Future

Welcome to the Art Angle, a podcast from Midnight Publishing Group News that delves into the places where the art world meets the real world, bringing each week’s biggest story down to earth. Join us every week for an in-depth look at what matters most in museums, the art market, and much more with input from our own writers and editors as well as artists, curators, and other top experts in the field.



Some of the most impactful stories to surface this past year have revolved around three major issues affecting the world as a whole: there’s a worsening climate emergency, a global health crisis and—in the fold—a breakneck acceleration of technology that’s increasingly entangling itself into every aspect of our lives.

When it comes to the art world, we can probably agree it’s time to ask some hard questions. Should there be so many art events? How should we gather? Do we need to experience art in person to understand it?

During lockdowns around the world over the last 18 months, we’ve been learning just how fluidly art can transition into the digital realm—and how clumsy a failed attempt can be.

Among the art events that managed to pull off successful ventures this year is the first edition of the Helsinki Biennial, which took on these questions. Taking place on an island off the coast of the capital of Finland, the exhibition, called “The Same Sea,” meets our collective moment, exploring concerns around our interconnectedness, nature, and sustainability. And it’s not just in theme: the Helsinki Biennial is calculating and trimming its climate footprint every step of the way with a goal of becoming the first carbon neutral biennial by 2035.

In the middle of a pandemic and rising temperatures, 41 artists are presenting works that carefully consider the surroundings of Vallisaari Island and the array of plants and creatures that populate it. To reach a wider audience when travel is both restricted and carbon-intensive, the biennale, which is on view until September 26, has partnered with Facebook Open Arts to explore how technology might help connect audiences with artworks peppered on the island.

This week, we’re thrilled to welcome Maija Tanninen, director of the forward-thinking Helsinki Biennial and the Helsinki Art Museum, and Tina Vaz, Head of Facebook Open Arts, to discuss the Helsinki Biennial’s unique approaches to greening a biennial, and how technology can be used to bring us closer to nature in meaningful ways.

If you enjoy this conversation, please join our panel conversation, “Helsinki Biennial and Facebook Open Arts – Future Visions / Art & Tech”—which will be available to watch on our Facebook page on September 22.


Listen to Other Episodes:

The Art Angle Podcast: Artists in Residence at the World Trade Center Reflect on 9/11

The Art Angle Podcast: Genesis Tramaine on How Faith Inspires Her Art

The Art Angle Podcast: The Bitter Battle Over Bob Ross’s Empire of Joy

The Art Angle Podcast: How Britney Spears’s Image Inspired Millennial Artists

The Art Angle Podcast: How the Medicis Became Art History’s First Influencers

The Art Angle Podcast: How Two Painters Helped Spark the Modern Conservation Movement

The Art Angle Podcast: The Hunter Biden Controversy, Explained

The Art Angle Podcast: Legendary Auctioneer Simon de Pury on Monaco, Hip Hop, and the Art Market’s New Reality

The Art Angle Podcast: 18-Year-Old NFT Star Fewocious on How Art Saved His Life, and Crashed Christie’s Website

The Art Angle Podcast (Re-Air): How Photographer Dawoud Bey Makes Black America Visible

Follow Midnight Publishing Group News on Facebook: