Beyond Borders: Interconnection & Sustainability

Organized by UNESCO Creative Cities of  Media Arts Network

Established in 2004, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) serves as a platform for cities that recognize creativity as a driving force for sustainable urban development. The network integrates creativity and cultural industries into local development strategies while actively engaging on the international stage, promoting active collaboration and innovation.

In 2020, the UCCN Media Arts Cluster unveiled “City to City,” a cross-cultural initiative that brought this vision to life, highlighting the crucial role of media arts in shaping a sustainable and interconnected world.

City to City explores the intersections of connections, collaboration, and innovation among the 25 UNESCO Creative Cities of Media Arts. Since its launch, this project has united a dynamic mix of cities and media artists, leveraging the power of media arts to transcend geographical boundaries and create impactful global connections. Each year, through a curated selection process, City to City showcases a diverse array of Media Art interpretations, making the art form accessible and captivating for all audiences. This inclusive approach not only celebrates the rich diversity of the media arts landscape but also invites the public to participate in immersive experiences and interact with large-scale exhibitions.

Focused on themes of connectivity and sustainability, City to City aligns itself with the objectives of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Each exhibition project pushes the boundaries of these themes through unique media art interpretations, offering speculative visions of future connectivity and sustainable development. This exhibition represents a curated selection of the over 15 collaborative pieces created to date.

In 2020, Water Mirrors, a collaboration between artists Daniel Escobarz from Cali, Colombia, and Mike Stubbs from York, UK, offered a poignant exploration of our relationship with water. Using audiovisual projections to create reflective surfaces, the project engaged viewers in a contemplative dialogue about water conservation and environmental sustainability. The immersive nature of the projections prompted audiences to consider the impact of their actions on the global water crisis, aligning with SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) and SDG 13 (Climate Action).

Blur (2021) brought together artists Jorge Ramos from Braga, Anna Kim from Gwangju, and Julien Gaillac from Enghien-les-Bains to investigate the blurring boundaries between the physical and digital worlds. Through a series of interactive installations, the project explored how digital technologies can foster new forms of social and cultural connectivity, even in times of physical separation. The installations highlighted the potential for media art to bridge gaps and create inclusive communities, supporting SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure) and SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities).

Born & Raised (2022), a collaborative effort between Austin and Košice—featuring artists Faiza Kracheni from Austin and Mišo Hudák from Košice —delved into the concept of identity and belonging in an increasingly interconnected world. Using multimedia storytelling, the project shared personal narratives of migration, heritage, and cultural exchange. By highlighting diverse voices and experiences, Born & Raised emphasized the importance of cultural diversity and inclusion, resonating with SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities) and SDG 16 (Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions).

Unwonted Locations (2023) linked Tbilisi and Viborg, showcasing the work of artists Giorgi Rodionov and Bastian — The immersive experience challenges traditional concepts of place and space by transforming unconventional locations. Through site-specific installations and digital media, Unwonted Locations invites audiences to reconsider their connection with the environment, promoting sustainable urban development in alignment with SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and SDG 15 (Life on Land).

City to City redefines the concept of a media arts exhibition; it embodies a vibrant celebration of global collaboration, shattering borders by uniting artists worldwide to collaborate, and showcasing the revolutionary power of art to inspire change.