Tomas Saraceno, Algo-r(h)i(y)thms, 2018, Installation view at ON AIR, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, Picture taken by Andrea Rossetti

Tomas Saraceno is one of the most interesting and inspiring artists working today at the intersection of technology, nature, sustainability and social innovation. His artistic practice includes large scale sculptures and proposals for creative applications of his concepts in real. His work is strongly research-based, drawing from the latest insights our understanding of the universe. The work we show uses algorithms to extend cognition, to feel the weaving in which all things, humans included, are caught up. “The signals that the participants rearrange come from disparate places and speak other idioms”, the catalogue text explains: “polluting particles and temperature differentials, supernovas and distant galaxies, shifting temperatures and weather patterns, local spiders’ vibrational communication. From infinitely small to infinitely large, these movements between nested scales cause the room to shift in response: the lights fade, echoes increase. And in the darkness, the room enlarges infinitely, much like the expanding universe, asking those present to listen, or else face the eternal silence of extinction.“

The New Hanse

What is the green digital model-city?

Our programme “The New Hanse” aims to support the city of Hamburg in its attempt to become the European capital of a green digital transformation by identifying pilot projects and showcasing the potential of a data-driven and citizen-centered future.

  • What does a data-driven democracy look like in the urban context?
  • How might urban leaders re-establish trust with their citizens regarding data security?
  • How can cities become effective laboratories for a more democratic and sustainable future?

The ambition of the State of Hamburg’s government is to develop the ‘Future City’ as a model for sustainable and digital transformation. Hamburg aims to ‘create the city from the citizen’s perspective’ and to use the potential of digital technologies to enhance both the quality of life and the level of civic participation. THE NEW INSTITUTE and Francesca Bria have designed a project named "The New Hanse" in order to support Hamburg in becoming the European Capital of Green Digital Transformation.

Francesca Bria is the President of the Italian Innovation Fund and one of Europe’s leaders in the field of digital democracy. Based on her Europe-wide ‘Decode’ project – a decentralized, privacy-enhancing and rights preserving framework – and her experience as CTO (Chief Technology Officer) of Barcelona, we will bring together local and international experts in the field of urban digital transformation to determine what has been achieved in Hamburg so far and what the relevant experiences from other European cities are, such as Amsterdam and Barcelona.

The goal is to identify tangible pilot projects within the city to showcase the potential of a data-driven and citizen-centered digital green transformation. The underlying assumption of the programme “The New Hanse” is that cities today play a crucial part in our economy and political life – forming laboratories for a more democratic and sustainable future, helping people regain trust in public institutions. If urban leaders and policy makers hope to re-establish long-term trust with their citizens, they need to assure that citizens’ data is not only safe but that it is actually generating public, not just private value.

“The New Hanse” has the potential to tell a different story about Europe and create a different European reality. Comparable to the times of the first Hanseatic League, from the late Middle Ages to the early modern age, the city of the early 21st Century is a place of innovation, knowledge, exchange, education, civilization and humanism. “The New Hanse” could be a starting point for a joint European initiative of progressive cities like Copenhagen and Helsinki promoting a sustainable data-driven democracy and reconnect Hamburg to a tradition and past which could be its future.
As a first step, THE NEW INSTITUTE plans to identify concrete projects for a green and digital transformation within the city of Hamburg.

Where do we currently stand and how to become involved

Under the leadership of the Programme Director for The New Hanse, Francesca Bria, experts started in October 2021. Discussions will focus on the interface of digitalization and democracy. If you wish to be informed about outcomes and new developments, we suggest that you subscribe to the THE NEW INSTITUTE newsletter.

Katharina Meyer, Project Lead

Adriana Groh, Project Lead



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