SHIFT: Making Sense

Words and photos by Roos Hekkens

Keep up-to-date with SHIFT Business Festival at:
SHIFT 2018 Facebook Event

We constantly sense the reality that we live in through our five senses. This is especially true in the times we live in, as we receive a rapid and continue flow of impulses. At the second SHIFT Business festival in Turku there were many stimuli that addressed all the senses, and even new senses were discussed. To properly perceive what was happening at SHIFT 2017, I will recount all the sensible experiences that made an impression on me and that stimulated my perception of reality while attending the festival.

There is a lot to see at SHIFT. One reason for this is that it is held in the grounds of the Turku Castle. There are numerous stands that use different techniques to attract the crowd. Waving flags and colourful banners decorate the field. A bright white artwork catches my eye and delights my camera lens. The wind plays happily with the fabric and the strings, which makes the artwork swing. Art Incubator, the collaboration responsible for curating the artworks at SHIFT, originates from the idea that contemporary art is not necessary space-specific, and paradoxically represents the immaterial as well as the importance of the material presence and conservation of the art of our time. In this sense, the festival area of SHIFT is a suitable place to explore these space-shifting artworks.

Carrying on with the exploration of Turku’s history, the venue for the SHIFT after party is the old Kakola Prison. The immense building is transformed into a festive and playful maze for exploration and inspiration. The different rooms have specific themes and are decorated accordingly. The two international bartenders presented by Food & Fun Turku- Steve Guven from Paris and Jóhann B. Jónasson from Reykjavík- create exclusive cocktails with the theme of 1001 Nights of Arabia. The sonic sense is also addressed by no less than the Turku Jazz Orchestra. Their jazzy sounds are catchy and create a playful dance floor, just right for the atmosphere of the after party.

Artwork featured at SHIFT – ‘Swinger’ by HALMESMAAx3

During the second festival day there are several speakers that stimulated thought about the future of humanity. The colour-blind speaker, Neil Harbisson, refers to himself as a cyborg (cybernetic organism), because he has an antenna implanted in his brain which gives him the ability to listen to colour. Light resonates sound frequencies which can be sensed by Harbisson’s antenna. Therefore Harbisson has had to learn which sonic tone relates to what colour, and is now able to physically sense colours using this technology. Harbisson says that he wanted to “become technology”.

This opposes another speaker, Gerd Leonhard, who is a futurist. Leonhard believes that we should comprehend technology but not let it take over our humanity. Our smartphones for example, are becoming an external memory that we need to learn how to manage. He says that machines can replace everything that is repetitive or efficient, but our humanity remains unpredictable and changeable, and therefore cannot be automated.

After these mind blowing presentations, I follow my nose to the Food & Fun stand, which has several different chefs cooking up some surprising tastes. There is Bjarni Siguroli Jakobsson from Reykjavík and Ismo Sipeläinen from Helsinki, and representing the tastes of Turku are Marjaana Pohjola from the vegetarian restaurant Kuori and Jarno Seppä from the locally-inspired kitchen of Smör. An interesting mix of typical Finnish ingredients and influences from all over the world fuse together in Puustelli Minus’s pop up kitchen, where the equipment is built using ecological and 100% recyclable materials.

The SHIFT leaves me feeling culturally content and with all my senses stimulated in a positive way. The only minor negative sensation is the cold sea wind that makes it tough to endure the whole day outside. Over all, SHIFT 2017 gives me a fresh impression of the collaboration between businesses and culture in Turku, and proves to be inspiring ground for future CC:TKU articles. SHIFT 2018 is certainly something to look forward to.

Gerd Leonhard delivers his talk, ‘Technology vs. Humanity’, during SHIFT 2017.
Neil Harbisson delivers his talk, ‘The Renaissance of Our Species’, at SHIFT 2017.
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