MAT Seminar Series


Patrick McCray

Re-Wired: Engineering a New Creative Culture in the Long 1960's

Monday, September 26th, 1pm

Engineering Science Building, room 2001


In the mid-1960s, an art and technology movement burst forth across the U.S. and Europe. It was catalyzed by corporate support, media exposure, a curious public, and – most of all – the enthusiastic participation of artists and engineers in formal and institutional collaborations. This talk explores this sudden blossoming of enthusiasm for art and technology and its subsequent and rather sudden retreat. While not ignoring the artists, I wish to restore the engineers and scientists to the foreground. I wish to recover the history of the engineers who contributed time, technical expertise, and aesthetic input to their artist colleagues. Following this thread through to the present day, I argue that today’s proliferation of academic and commercial art/design/technology/innovation centers is a legacy of a foundation set down by artists and engineers in the 1960's.

W. Patrick McCray is a professor in the Department of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Originally trained as a scientist, McCray’s most recent book (2013) is The Visioneers: How an Elite Group of Scientists Pursued Space Colonies, Nanotechnologies, and a Limitless Future. This won the Watson and Helen Miles Davis Prize from the History of Science Society as the "best book written for a general audience", as well as the Eugene M. Emme Award from the American Astronautical Society. Besides authoring three other books about the history of science and technology, he also recently co-edited a collection of essays called Groovy Science: Knowledge, Innovation, and the American Counterculture which the University of Chicago published in 2016.

In addition to grants from the National Science Foundation – including one to create a center at UCSB looking at the societal implications of new technologies – McCray has held research fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies (2010), the California Institute of Technology (2012), and the Smithsonian (2015). He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (elected 2011) and the American Physical Society (elected 2013). Finally, in 2016, McCray was an invited attendee at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.



Since 1998, the Media Arts and Technology graduate program hosts a periodic seminar series. The transdisciplinary nature of our program is also reflected in the diverse range of fields our speakers come from: engineering, electronic music, art and science.



Most of our seminar talks take place at the Engineering and Science Building, room 2001.