Supported by:
  • EU

PIPES project

PIPES is a collaborative project of four European cultural associations: ZKM | Karlsruhe, CIANT (Prague), HANGAR (Barcelona) and BRAINZ (Prague). It involves Participatory Investigation of Public Engaging Spaces of communication with highly creative and technologically innovative ambitions. Within the project we will support intense interdisciplinary interactions among audiovisual media artists, communication specialists, scholars, architects, activists and the citizens with a goal to experiment with new models and symbolic means of communication. Special focus will be on the analysis of interface-communication and visual expression leading to innovation in dynamic interactive tools and scenarios of expression and sharing.


A lot of theorists with an impact of today’s social and cultural sciences criticize that pragmatism and functionalism have taken over our way of thinking. Everything that is not to be considered as predictable runs the risk to become postmarked as unreasonable. Communicating predominantly on a written basis fits perfectly into this linear structured thread. Even if you visit an art museum you will find explanatory texts next to the artwork. But we have a lot of other abilities to use than just our rationality. Especially our new technologies offer us more resources than we actually scoop. PIPES takes these critical voices serious and likes to be a door opener for a more sensual and creative communication and collaboration.

How to do that?

The ideally field of visual communication and symbolic expression is quite limitless. When it comes to these matters in combination with tools based on present-day’s technologies there are two main approaches: tools that affiliate various senses (e. g. watching, listening, touching the device) and tools that are primarily based on an iconic instead of linguistic transfer of information (e. g. smartphone menus/apps, emoticons). The PIPES-team decided to develop two tools, one for each main approach while dedicating the research to a more prospective range. Therefore the PIPES-research will mainly focus on the interface, it’s different meanings and how to find common sense for this subject facing participatory engagement. To reach out for a tool responding to various senses we are going to focus on Augmented Reality technics while choosing browser-based solutions for the iconic approach.

Basically it’s pretty easy: First of all we just need a multi-media theatre and a new visual language. Well yes, you are right – our ambitions are very high! Obviously one can’t change the general mindset towards communication by sitting in a dark chamber, not interacting with people. Therefore we developed a “master plan” to approach our target. Single steps of this plan and consequently the content of our project are:

  • Research of future communication tools and symbol-making beyond word-based-language together with experts and scholars of different scientific fields.
  • Inviting researchers and artists for interdisciplinary residencies to support knowledge exchange and to generate creative as well as conceptual inputs for the deployment of a new visual language.
  • Supporting artworks and cultural products, which are using a new visual language and express themselves with a high symbolic value.
  • Organizing artistic events showcasing challenging communication situations and bringing visibility to the universal visual language as a tool for sharing symbolic expressions
  • And last but not least organizing participatory events engaging cross-border spectrum of participants and turning them into creators.

All results and inputs we gain form these activities will flow into our development for the aimed communicative tools. Step by step we will conceptualize and implement our results for stimulating, enabling, and providing open access to symbolic expression of complex communication situations.

PIPES is a collaborative project of four European cultural associations.

It involves Participatory Investigation of Public Engaging Spaces of communication with highly creative and technologically innovative ambitions.

Project realization teams:
  • zkm karlsruhe
  • Ciant

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