Interview of Thierry Dutoit
Directeur of Numediart program at UMons University
It’s a little-known fact that Mons 2015 was instigated as early as 2004. Recognised as Cultural Capital of Wallonia in 2002, a few years later the city of Mons announced its candidature for the title of European Capital of Culture. Culture was already one of the five priority axes of the City Project. The result was a tangible cultural dynamic in Mons, and the press were already talking about a possible resurgence of economic activity, based on the digital economy, in a Digital Innovation Valley.
In this favourable context, a small group of teachers and researchers from the UMONS1 decided, in 2005, to launch a vast research program. Thierry Dutoit, instigator and now project director, explains: “Open to culture, we foresaw the importance of collaboration between the arts, science and technology for the development of products and services linked to the digital economy, and we gathered an essential mix of skill-sets required for such a project. We therefore introduced the numediart program in an appeal to the Wallonia region centred on programs of excellence outlined in the Marshall Plan. It quickly received the support of the Region. I am very grateful for the confidence they showed us and I am thankful that the Mons decision-makers who, without realising it, directed our creative energy towards Mons 2015.”
Thierry Dutoit: We gradually realised that the development of digital creativity is essentially faced with three obstacles: technological com- plexity, the lack of ad hoc training and the diffi- culty in starting joint-production projects. Since 2007 we have been progressively tackling each of these problems. In numediart we have added to our research mission that of engineering sup- port. This is a recurring request from the artists and entrepreneurs who contact us: the techno- logical viability of complex ideas and the budget required. The answers that we can offer often in- clude technical advice, helped by our knowledge of the latest developments and practical solutions (software and/or materials). Only then can we of- fer more in-depth assistance3. In order to achieve this we have had to take on and train qualified personnel, able to rapidly respond to such re- quests, familiar with current technological tools. …