The AHA! festival
​This years' AHA! festival will take place November 12-14th.​​

Augmented authenticity this years' theme at the AHA! festival

​​What does is mean to be human?
If we strengthen the things that make us human, do we become even more humans?
These issues and many others are raised and discussed when science and art meet at this year's AHA! festival November 12-14.
“"This is wrong! Women didn't sing those songs in the Middle Ages!” Somewhere in that criticism, our discussion around this year's theme began about whether something is authentic or not”, says Michael Eriksson, one of two project managers for the AHA! festival.
 
Those who were criticized for being wrong were the group Trio Medieval, a music group with three women. The group plays medieval songs, and one of the members participated in the 2018 AHA! festival. The critics said that it was not authentic medieval music if it did not follow the frameworks and rules that existed in the Middle Ages.
 
“But how do we know that? What is real medieval music? From there we drew a parallel to the authenticity of photography - how many are processed? Of course, it can be good to process a photo, but it can also mean that things in the photo are removed, and then we’ve created fake news,” Michael Eriksson continues.

What does it mean to be human?

The discussions within the project group continued, ending up in what will be the theme of the sixth AHA! Festival: "Augmented authenticity". The theme should be interpreted broadly, but basically it addresses what it means to be human. The theme ranges from questions about when the Nobel Prize will be awarded to an artificial intelligence, to whether strengthening our senses and physical possibilities makes  us even more human. 

“I play a lot of guitar, and if I get a new artificial arm I might be able to play even faster - but what does such a thing do  to one's existence?” says Peter Christensson, associate professor at the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, and the other one of the two project leaders.
 
The ambition of the AHA! festival is to serve as a meeting place between art and science. Among the seven people in the project group there are representatives from Chalmers researchers and  operational support as well as a librarian from the  Chalmers library.
 
“With the AHA! festival we want to approach big questions in a playful and curious way. The aim is to create a festival with a range and format that attracts new meetings across different disciplines”, says Sanna Dahlman, artistic teacher at the Division of Design & Human Factors at the Department of Industrial and Materials Science.
 
The participants in the festival are a wide mix of researchers and artists in different fields. The reason that it is called a festival is to clarify that it, for example, is not a conference - the purpose is to serve as a trigger for thoughts and ideas.
 
“The meeting between science and art is important to broaden views and provide new perspectives for all of us in today's increasingly high-tech world”, says Sanna Dahlman.
 
The AHA! festival today has more than 30 different seminars, workshops and events, but it started  on a much smaller scale more than ten years ago, then as an annual poetry evening for architecture students.
 
“We thought the students were a little too narrow in the way they perceived things, says Peter Christensson. “So we invited poets, and it lasted for ten years.”

Strengtens the identity

When the poetry evenings ended, the organizers instead went on to start an open festival with an annual theme. Today, about half of Chalmers’ departments participate in different ways, but participation is often done on individual basis. The project group's ambition is to widen the festival to become a matter for the whole of Chalmers. They emphasize that Chalmers is a great academy with incredible potential, and that the artistic potential is not always used. 

“The festival is a way we can go to strengthen that identity”, says Michael Eriksson. “It also serves as a form of utilization, a way where you can meet an audience that is outside your research field, and it supports broader recruitment by providing an image of Chalmers that is beyond the classic image of the Chalmers cortege and the new students initiation week (nollning).”

About the AHA! festival 12-14 November 2019

An annual three day festival where science meets art. The theme for this years’ festival is “augmented authenticity”. The festival is free of charge and open for everyone.
All the information about the festival can be found at www.ahafestival.se 

Published: Tue 05 Nov 2019. Modified: Fri 08 Nov 2019