The occasion for this talk has been given to me by a paper co-authored with Sabrina Sauer titled “Collective improvisation as a means to responsibly govern serendipity in social innovation processes” published in the Journal of Responsible Innovation in 2020.
Trasformatorio is a laboratory, artistic in scope, where I have experimented ways to create site-specific arts. Is named Trasformatorio because we believed that the scope of genuine art is to engage transformation. The scope was to create a laboratory for enacting transformations. A Laboratory from latin Laboratorium, a place/space/time to work in. Work is a term that has many meanings in our tradition, not only the synonymous of labour. There is the work you do on yourself, the work you do for others, the work of the actor to possess their character’s actions upon the textual matter of the play. Work is what you do with presence, intent and quality. And these three concepts, among others, are what the artist is busy with most of the time.
I worked with technology, most of the time hacking together from pieces that were intended for something else, rarely doing twice the same operation. I studied many things for many different reasons, rarely the canonical ones. When I was exposed to the current methodologies for innovation and design I felt that a big occasion was missing. That there was a coherent corpus of reality bending techniques I had become aware in the field of arts that were watched over by the hype cycle prone industry of innovation. I began using them and cross pollinating. I am still doing it in many ways.
Pages S44-S63 | Received 29 Jan 2020, Accepted 02 Aug 2020, Published online: 14 Sep 2020
This article focuses on how collective improvisation, as a play with situational affordances and constraints, can facilitate or elicit luck in social innovation processes. We propose the improvisation perspective to offer a means to move from ungovernable to governable serendipity in innovation. Furthermore, the article presents Trasformatorio, an innovation methodology based on the living lab approach, that takes innovation-through-improvisation as its premise. Following an analysis of Trasformatorio’s social innovation efforts, we conclude that while governing serendipity may be a challenge, improvisation provides an opportunity to innovate responsibly. Improvisation refocuses ideas about unexpectedness and anchors the unforeseen to a process approach. This, in turn, leads to insights about how responsible social innovation can be governed by means of (1) situation awareness; (2) collective brokering; and (3) explicit reflection about how product and process, here conceptualised as part of a Design Space and Narrative Space respectively, interrelate.