Mastering Hybrid Culture: Where is the realm of creative production headed?
The past year has seen a fusion of opposites quite unlike anything previously experienced in recent memory — isolation and hyperconnectivity, physical slowness and virtual velocity, stagnation and creativity. Crucially, it has prompted the farewell of most infrastructures once deemed indestructible, revealing, along the way, the glaring cracks and fissures nestled within economic, political and cultural titans. Production methods, supply chains, accessibility, messaging and offer all found themselves entirely reworked by the environmental adversity of the pandemic. To withstand the cyclone inhaling the world as we know it, the sturdy machine of cultural production — like most of its coevals — was coerced into yielding to one tactic: adaptation. How the term is interpreted, imagined and applied is a different story. While adaptation is essential to progress, adapting can easily imply compromise, adjustment and concession — all of which, to our ears, ring dangerously similar to boredom when deployed as creative strategies. Instead, we chose to look at this challenge with curiosity and ask: how can the unprecedented hurdle the event industry has faced lay the groundwork not for compromise, but for a reawakening?
Hybridizing the cultural landscape
A stringent answer would seem anachronistic. Amid environmental uncertainty, even the most radical overhaul finds itself in a state of impermanence; rebirth is not a one-stop operation, but a process in which the creative industries must learn to not just survive, but flourish. And, indeed, upon closer look, possibilities abound. Without clinging on to an outmoded past nor romanticizing a futuristic cyber-utopia entirely divorced from reality, our approach, strategy and philosophy tap into the in-between. Reflecting on the harmonious merger of what was and what will be led us to the concept of hybrid culture: a seasonal theme our team has orbited around for most of the past year, culling from it the strategic insight and creative inspiration permeating our projects.
The hybrid modus operandi is porous and dynamic. Much like the zeitgeist itself, it champions extreme fluidity in its espousal of trends. Live event production has been at the core of our work for nearly a decade, and, needless to say, very far from us the idea of wanting to drown the physical experience into a stream of pixelated stimuli. Hybrid events have been an attempt at deepening our bond with technologies, and engaging varied audiences in a way that enables us to be mindful of contemporary limitations while remaining relevant, fresh and novel even once the (altogether questionable) ‘back to normal’ pop adage regains full credibility.
Of course, execution, especially when treading new ground, isn’t a one-man show — nor can it rely on pre-pandemic production techniques. However, consistency is key, and the holistic creative processes we’ve espoused throughout our years in the game have not failed our mission. To us, culture has always been modular and never impermeable to structural change. Fittingly enough, so are our tactics.
- Prototyping a vision for a hybrid future
Creative Prototyping underpins our approach to cultural modularity, and it’s certainly harmonized with the amped-up pace of production resulting from a global surge in digital intervention. In a nutshell, the method stems from Silicon Valley’s Design Thinking, and subsumes a rapid transition from concept to prototype, and eventually product. With the acceleration of communication, brainstorming, ideation and execution, projects such as the Launch of the European Capital of Culture Esch2022 have benefited from Creative Prototyping, on steroids. Technology has taken on the role of the ultimate equalizer in the realm of idea production; and it would be safe to assume the implications of the pandemic have facilitated this democratization of corporate initiative, which in turn echo the fundamental battleROYAL values of diversity and collaboration. Physical exchanges are soaked in societal conditioning, doubts, concern for behavioral adjustment to the external gaze — most of which can prove to be detrimental, particularly to those not belonging to demographic(s) at the helm of Western heterocracy. When the pressure of performativity is lessened, creativity abounds. Reshuffling the open plan office structure into something altogether more fluid and less compartmentalized by means of digital mediation has carried the same energy into the production itself. Sure enough, the result is not nearly as easy to pin down — but isn’t that the point?
2. The lasting value of the ritual
What drives us to event production is people, and a desire to instigate a potent energy that galvanizes an audience. What drives people to events is, among others, the age-old human need for escapism. The event space has acted as a signifier of shared values, desires and curiosity; it’s a way to render those values tangible and relatable. Facilitating human connection persists as one of battleROYAL’s fundamental missions, and the past year has allowed us to observe the glue that binds communities amid the most adverse of circumstances. Rituals are at the heart of collective existence, be they small-scale or laborious, sacred or profane, tangible or symbolic. For as long as we’ve been operating, we’ve made the notion of ritual central to our mindset, and it’s (yet again) smoothly transmigrated towards the realm of hybrid event production.
3. A chameleonic modus operandi
The third fundamental pillar of our ideation and production cycle irrespective of the climate we’re working with has been the interdisciplinarity weaving our battleROYAL fabric. From performing arts, theatre and dance production to electronic music, our team hails from all corners of the creative sector. Practicing what we preach — or at the very least having done so — adds a streak of purity to all the creative endeavors we take on. Likewise, our proclivity towards experimentation coupled with an appreciation for fearless decision-making is most definitely also owed to the polymorphic nature of our team’s makeup. At the end of the day, nothing adjusts to environmental hardship quite like the flexible thinking of a polymath.
Our processes are as enduring as our eyes are honed to spot, forecast and appraise trends. If the pandemic has indisputably narrowed the operational scope of our projects, it’s posed executive challenges and cultural riddles we have repurposed into fuel for a transformation. Hybrid culture is here to stay.