Mylène Carrière, Centre National de l'Audiovisuel, Luxembourg

By Alexandre Keilmann for EBRC

On Tuesday, March 19, 2019, EBRC met with 30 secondary school students from 6 European countries to discuss the topic of digitisation during a private tour of one of the five EBRC’s Tier IV Data Centres, located in Kayl. The tour took an artistic twist this time. Indeed, within the framework of a programme coordinated by the National Audiovisual Centre (Centre National de l'Audiovisuel - CNA), the students are currently participating in the “Better Before” project, alongside English artist Mikhail Karikis. We spoke with Mylène Carrière, Educational Manager at the CNA, to decipher this unique European initiative.

According to the Educational Manager, who is participating in her third European project, "Better Before" is very ambitious as it was developed by six European partners, with a strong focus on innovation. The programme’s main aim? Providing image and media education, as well as fostering the development of critical thinking and a better understanding of the challenges ahead. According to Mylène Carrière, this European initiative aims at going beyond the traditional exchanges. To this end, it promotes and focuses on pedagogical innovation: "education is going through a rough patch in Europe, with a delicate relationship with classical pedagogy and the fact that young people are not necessarily responding to traditional methods". This project leads students to approach teaching in a new way, to learn differently from an academic course while also giving teachers the opportunity to adopt new methods. "The aim is to use creativity and critical thinking as one of the ways to stimulate learning and reflection", added the Educational Manager and Coordinator of the “Better Before” project.

Digital at the heart of the "Better Before" project

This topic invited the students, accompanied by Mikhail Karikis, an English artist specialised in visual and sound works, to reflect on the concept of the past – which it can sometimes be difficult to identify – as well as on nostalgia, with a profound reflection on our society, its future, and the period of digitisation that it is currently undergoing. To this end, students from 6 different countries were selected in order to be able to compare their points of view, their histories and their values. As Mylène Carrière explained, "the countries were carefully selected to foster discussion. As a result, we have young people from Spain, the United Kingdom, Greece, (East) Germany and Lithuania: countries that are currently experiencing a "crisis" situation, whether political, economic or others". Mylène Carrière first discovered Mikhail Karikis and his works two years ago at an exhibition held at the Casino Luxembourg, Contemporary Art Forum. His installations are generally composed of videos, photos and sounds. Within the framework of the project, the artist set himself the task of explaining to the students how to create an artistic language through concrete experiences, and by transforming an "ordinary" reflection into a metaphorical language. "Through his art, he gives them the opportunity to express themselves! The program began with the young students and the artist meeting up to define the topics they wished to address. After that, they have been collaborating on the image selection process and have been able to share their ideas and feelings", said the Education Manager.

In Luxembourg, the topics of “pressure” and "digitisation" will be discussed, including through a tour of one of EBRC’s 5 Data Centres. As Jean-François Hugon, Head of Marketing at the company specialised in the protection and management of sensitive information, explained "the aim is to further this reflection on data, the management thereof, and the impact it can have on our society, our future. This generation, which was born with digital technology at its disposal, is the first to know cyberspace. Helping these European teenagers to discover our activities and allowing them to visit this Data Centre which is at the heart of digital activities also encourages them to think, to take a critical look at the benefits of such technology but also to raise their awareness with regard to cyber threats". Luxembourg, in addition to being recognised for its financial centre, and investment funds in particular, is currently one of several pioneers in Cyber-Resilience approaches, having built a real "digital fortress", but is also one of the pillars of the digital Europe that is currently under construction. Thus, the morning spent in EBRC’s Data Centre enabled the young European students to deepen their knowledge beyond what they regularly hear in the media, by speaking directly with technical experts, thereby also offering them the opportunity to discover current and future digital professions.

"Fostering exchanges and breaking down social barriers"

After this session in Kayl, the "Better Before" programme continued with additional awareness-raising with regard to cybersecurity given by experts from BEE SECURE, leisure time with a few games of Laser Tag, then some more learning with a discussion with the Ministry of Education. The National Audiovisual Centre (CNA), and more particularly Mylène Carrière, will continue to coordinate the project in the other European countries until 2021. At that time, Mikhail Karikis and the students will present their works in an exhibition at the CNA, which can be duplicated in several contemporary art museums across Europe. "At the end of the programme, each student will receive a diploma from the European Commission which will enable them to continue their studies abroad, via Erasmus grants. The students will be placed in host families to encourage exchanges and break down social barriers. One of the aims of this project is also to promote mobility and international curricula", concluded Mylène Carrière.

Photo: EBRC