Emerge 2015

Having attracted 7,000 people in 2014 – more than twice the capacity of Carnegie Hall – “Emerge: Artists + Scientists Redesign the Future” in March 2015 aims to seal its reputation as the creator of new kinds of visions of the future in which we can thrive.

Call them “performance sci-fi” or “visitations from the future” what’s cool about Emerge’s new forms is that engineers, artists, scientists, ethicists, dancers, technologists and storytellers imagine them together to create narratives that fire in the audience:

  • Blown minds – as we explore the consequences, disruptions and opportunities of technological, social and cultural transformation; and
  • Penetrating questions – about how we can create the kind of futures in which we can thrive.

Emerge is not about the latest gizmos.  It’s about how our creations are changing what it means to be human.  And how we can prevail.

Stanford and MIT show you toys.  ASU’s Emerge shows you what they mean.

And that’s cool.

Emerge’s theme for 2015 is “The Future of Choices and Values.”  Does freedom increase based on the number of available cereal boxes?  Or is that enslavement to consumer choice? Are values measured most usefully with money?  Or does that marginalize important things like beauty, identity, civilization, soul?   “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted,” said Einstein.

Choices and values intersect marvelously.  They are all about “me” – but also about us.  They are entirely individual – your choices and values are profoundly up to you.  Yet they are important only in the context of everybody else.  There are no values in our communities without the choices of our unique individuals.

Choices and values are both conversation starters and unifiers among artists and technologists.

As they explore and build, these creators make choices all the time.   But these are also gifts to us.  For example, readers are presented with choices of understanding shaped by storytellers.  And healthy humans understand their robust choices of eating and exercising and medicating – and even acquiring enhancements – because of biologists.

“Values,” meanwhile, have at least two major meanings:   One is at the core of ethics and culture.  The other is at the core of economics and business.

And the future of choices and values is changing.  Technology is accelerating, changing what we can do ever faster.  This throws at us core questions about what we should do at an unprecedented rate.  Emerge challenges you to weigh what our future choices and values should be.

Our goal is to build a radically creative, playful and challenging approach to our boundary-obliterating and incisive visitations from the future.  And then present them in a massively public way.  Our challenging nodes raise difficult issues and spark people to think for themselves.  They include, but are not limited to, physical and digital installations, engineered constructions, interactive pieces, performance art, scientific extravaganzas, sculpture, video art, games and dance.  We don’t just talk about the future, we build it.  Think of our weird stories, perhaps, as grand experiments in anthropological framing, probing and exploring the gray areas.  It’s an observation deck on the future.  “You can’t have better futures without better dreams.”

Emerge is based at the revolutionary Arizona State University – the nation’s largest bricks-and-mortar institution of higher learning.  ASU is also the nation’s foremost silo-busting university, and Emerge is the flagship gala celebrating this.  Based in the metro area of Phoenix, America’s sixth-largest city, Emerge also has keen ambitions to take its creations to California, China, England and the Netherlands.

We attract basically the NPR demographic, except skewing distinctly younger and hipper.

For our partners, Emerge is not only an opportunity for cool branding and display of creativity. It’s a chance to inspire, connect, make a ruckus, play, ask big questions, look globally to solve problems, and shine.  We believe corporations have an important place in helping build Emerge because the smartest ones do precisely what Emerge aims to do – shape informed fictions to develop new business models.

Emerge in 2015:

  • Opens up new targets and audiences for you.
  • Provides tools and collaborations that you may not readily have.
  • Attracts media attention well in excess of our 2014 records of seven (!) articles in the on-line magazine Slate, as well as television, radio, print and social media (a third of a million impressions on Twitter in one night).
  • Gets you in front of the young, and the cool.

Classic examples of the “emissaries from the future” we created for 2014 were:

  • The internationally celebrated experimental musician David Rothenberg performing with a swarm of flying robots, giving voice to their secrets and struggles. https://vimeo.com/88699469
  • Two clowns and an aerialist from the Herberger School of Film, Dance and Theatre performing with the School for Earth and Space Exploration’s industrial robot Baxter, created by MIT Robotics Lab legend Rod Brooks, at Rethink Robotics (which blogged it). https://vimeo.com/88117753 and https://vimeo.com/88691127 .
  • The globally renowned Biodesign Institute labs creating a personalized medicine lab from the future staffed by their white-coated people so good-looking we slapped badges on them that said “We really are scientists – ask us anything,” lest people think we had hired models.

The significance of all this is:

  • Art and narrative are important tools.
  • Few operations like Emerge have the capacity to combine the arts and narrative with hard-headed science and logic to reach new audiences.
  • We go far beyond preaching to the converted in the farmers’ markets.
  • We help you reach a totally different kind of audience.
  • We challenge people to express important ideas in novel ways.

This is not all games and giggles.  We are at an inflection point in history.  For the first time, our species is taking control of all of matter, energy, and even biology.  The core question is not what we can do, but what we should do. That’s the significance of Emerge bringing together artists and scientists.  There is no one path to truth.  Our theme for Emerge 2015 is “The Future of Choices and Values.”  We want to create a future in which we get to choose.  And our values form a future in which we can thrive.  We’re playing for the highest possible stakes here.  We want to go where few imaginations have gone before.

To see the magic we created in our ginormous circus tent covering a Phoenix city block in 2014, check out http://emerge.asu.edu/

Join us in 2015!

Sponsorships will be rewarded with co-branding and display opportunities particularly aimed at the global young and sophisticated.