From artistic improvisation to technological innovation

On Fri­day Octo­ber 1, 2021, a conference/debate enti­tled «From artis­tic impro­vi­sa­tion to tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion» was orga­nized at the Mai­son de la Cul­ture in Amiens, organ­ised by UTC in the pres­ence of the «sci­en­tist-adven­tur­er» Bertrand Pic­card and an audi­ence of near­ly five hun­dred people.

UTC, in part­ner­ship with the Hauts-de- France region, orga­nized at the Mai­son de la Cul­ture in Amiens, a new and orig­i­nal event on the theme of artis­tic impro­vi­sa­tion, as a source of inspi­ra­tion for tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion. This excep­tion­al evening was orga­nized with the sup­port of Greater Amiens area, the CCI Amiens-Picardie, the CPME 80, HDFID, I‑Trans, the Alty­tud clus­ter, the ESAD and ESIEE/ Uni­LaSalle. In the first ses­sion of the evening, the pub­lic was able to attend impro­vi­sa­tion­al per­for­mances by artists from dif­fer­ent worlds. There was jazz with the trios of Boris Pelosof and François Thuil­li­er, the­atre with Mayel Elha­jaoui, actor of the series Demain nous appar­tient (TF1), a ‘beat­box’ with Antoine Pin­chaud, 2015 French Beat­box cham­pi­on and Adrien Con­tesse, cre­ator of Vocal Gram­mat­ics, but also a «break­dance» per­for­mance with Kamil Bous­sel­ham. The dancer will per­form in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. The tar­get audi­ence for this event was made up of indus­tri­al­ists and com­pa­nies from the region, insti­tu­tions and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the world of cul­ture, research and high­er edu­ca­tion and students. 

From orchestra conductor to becoming an innovative project leader 

In the sec­ond half of the evening, the audi­ence in the large the­atre of the Mai­son de la Cul­ture in Amiens was able to lis­ten to and dis­cuss with the Swiss «sci­en­tist-adven­tur­er» Bertrand Pic­card, dur­ing a con­fer­ence on the theme: «The pio­neer­ing spir­it for invent­ing the future» against the back­ground of his expe­ri­ence with the Solar Impulse. This event rep­re­sents a par­tic­u­lar and spe­cif­ic activ­i­ty of a research project born, at the end of the 1990s, from a metaphor com­mon­ly used in the field of inno­va­tion projects, that of a con­duc­tor. The «inno­v­a­tive» project leader is pre­sent­ed as a con­duc­tor who mobi­lizes the skills of a musi­cal group, fol­low­ing an estab­lished score. «This metaphor and con­nec­tion makes sense when talk­ing about incre­men­tal inno­va­tion. When we approach the field of dis­rup­tive inno­va­tion, as we like to say at the moment, the metaphor of the con­duc­tor is no longer appro­pri­ate. I there­fore con­sid­ered using anoth­er musi­cal prac­tice, that of jazz impro­vi­sa­tion», explains Pas­cal Alber­ti, teacher-researcher at the Costech/UTC laboratory. 

How is jazz improvisation relevant? 

Tak­ing an inter­est in jazz impro­vi­sa­tion is in itself an inno­va­tion. Nev­er­the­less, a lit­er­a­ture review showed that links between jazz impro­vi­sa­tion and cer­tain eco­nom­ic activ­i­ties had already been envis­aged in a fair­ly clas­sic research for­mat. «Mov­ing off the beat­en track – which, be it said, is in UTC’s DNA — we envis­aged dif­fer­ent for­mats of action, includ­ing events like the one we expe­ri­enced at the MCA. We pre­vi­ous­ly orga­nized a meet­ing of this type at the SACEM’s grand audi­to­ri­um, then at the Sainte-Corneille clois­ter in Com­piègne,’ con­tin­ues Pas­cal Alber­ti, for whom the musi­cal field is indeed very inter­est­ing when it comes to inno­va­tion. The par­al­lel that can be drawn between the train­ing of a musi­cian and that of an engi­neer is there­fore e n t i r e l y rel­e­vant. «Our e n g i n e e r i n g s t u d e n t s also acquire knowl­edge in the heart of struc­tured and s t r u c t u r i n g Carte­sian bod­ies of knowl­edge. We can see that clas­si­cal musi­cians, even those who are vir­tu­osos in their musi­cal prac­tice, do not have the appetite and agili­ty to impro­vise, just as cer­tain engi­neers who are experts in their field do not have the capac­i­ty to make dis­rup­tive inno­va­tions. On the oth­er hand, oth­er musi­cians, par­tic­u­lar­ly jazz musi­cians, who have also been through the mill of music the­o­ry and the con­ser­va­to­ry, impro­vise, just as some engi­neers who have been through high­er edu­ca­tion are capa­ble of innovation. 

Soft skills more in demand than ever 

This research also leads to a ques­tion­ing of the process­es of knowl­edge acqui­si­tion and the ‘soft skills’ of these peo­ple and the work envis­aged around people’s indi­vid­ual skills. We all know that, as we are remind­ed, for exam­ple, at each major sport­ing event — the 1998 or 2018 foot­ball World Cup, the 2021 Olympic Games with hand­ball or vol­ley­ball — a team is more than the sum of the indi­vid­u­als, more than the sum of the parts,» con­cludes Pas­cal Alber­ti. What we are work­ing on is this extra val­ue in addi­tion to the basic sum. We have opt­ed for a prag­mat­ic approach with musi­cians, dancers, actors, sports­men and women, and indus­tri­al­ists who imple­ment impro­vi­sa­tion and inno­va­tion in the field. Because, let’s remem­ber, our objec­tive is to cre­ate tools and meth­ods to help inno­va­tion aimed at cre­at­ing socio-eco­nom­ic val­ue in the region.

Three highly appreciated masterclasses

Dur­ing the after­noon ses­sion, UTC invit­ed a num­ber of com­pa­ny CEOs and man­agers and about forty UTC stu­dents to par­tic­i­pate in dif­fer­ent mas­ter­class­es. There was the­atre with the actor Mayel Elha­jaoui, beat­box with Antoine Pin­chaud, 2015 French Beat­box cham­pi­on and Adrien Con­tesse, cre­ator of Vocal Gram­mat­ics, but also a «break­dance» mas­ter­class with Kamil Bous­sel­ham. Each in their own field led the expe­ri­ence for more than two hours around artis­tic impro­vi­sa­tion. «I real­ly liked the beat­box mas­ter­class. It was a real change of scenery that pushed me to my lim­its. The mem­bers of Vocal Gram­mat­ics inspired me a lot. I find it a per­fect tool for my team build­ing oper­a­tions to stim­u­late coop­er­a­tion in a fun-seek­ing spir­it,» says Chris­tine Debu­reaux, Pres­i­dent of Expert RH in Amiens. The evening that fol­lowed was equal­ly high qual­i­ty, dynam­ic and real­ly original”.

Le magazine

Novembre 2023 - N°61

Activité physique, nutrition & santé

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