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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.

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Collaborating with Electronics

Monday, October 17th, 1pm

Engineering Science Building, room 2001

From circuit bending to modular synthesis, artists and inventors around the world have strived to push beyond the pre-defined roles of modern electronics to find new and inspiring applications for the medium. Edwards will share his experience in the field of creative electronics as an artist and teacher for more than a decade to show how adventurous artists can not only harness the power of electricity but also gain inspiration from its organic behaviour.

Peter Edwards is a american artist, teacher and inventor working in the field of creative electronics. Over the past 15 years Edwards has worked closely with DIY electronics communities through his business casperelectronics and through outreach projects at universities and arts organisations around the world. He studied sculpture at the Rhode Island school of design and developed the creative electronics department at Hampshire College. more recently, he studied electrical engineering and electro acoustics at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague while collaborating with musical electronics pioneers STEIM in Amsterdam. In 2016 Edwards moved to the Czech Republic to join forces with synthesizer producing arts collective Bastl Instruments. He now splits his time between Brno with Bastl Instruments and Brooklyn with arts collective The Silent Barn.

Casper Electronics

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Waste Matters: You Are My Future

Monday, October 24th, 1pm

Engineering Science Building, room 2001

Waste Matters: You Are My Future by Kathy High explores the field of biological arts and High's own projects. Her current research focuses on the immune system — and particulary looks at the interaction of our human gut microbiota as a biological symbiosis, a holobient, collaborative interaction between species – or as Donna Haraway refers to us in this age of the Anthropocene, "we need each other in an oblig­ate sym­bio­sis.” High looks at research in fecal microbial transplants and gut biomes to better understand the important function of bacteria and fungi in our bodies. Using the metaphor of interspecies love, with immunological bacterial players, Waste Matters expands ideas around imbalances of internal biomes as a mirror to the imbalances in our larger ecological sphere, where the gut is a “hackable space.” As a patient with Crohn’s disease, High's knowledge in autoimmune disorders and the body’s ecology is first hand. Recent research into the human body's biomes has lead to better understanding of the various ecological systems we live among. Having dealt with issues around shit all her life, High sees her own attempts to make this material invisible. In this new work she hopes to bring light to ways our culture hides waste. She posits a more holistic view allowing for dialog between ecologists, biologists, activists, and artists to catalyze the imaginary around the abject. “The transformation of waste is perhaps the oldest pre-occupation of man.” - Patti Smith

Kathy High (USA) is an interdisciplinary artist, educator working in the areas of technology, science and art. She works with animals and living systems, and considers the social, political and ethical dilemmas surrounding areas of medicine/bio-science, biotechnology and interspecies collaborations. She has received awards from Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and National Endowment for the Arts, among others. Her art works have been shown at documenta 13 (Germany), Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Lincoln Center and Exit Art (NYC), UCLA (Los Angeles), Science Gallery, (Dublin), NGBK, (Berlin), Fesitval Transitio_MX (Mexico), MASS MoCA (North Adams), Videotage Art Space (Hong Kong). High is Professor of Video and New Media at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY.

Artist Website || Embracing Animal || Vampire Study Group

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Early Video in the U.S. (1968-75): Considering the Emerging Aesthetics of Time-based Electronic Media & Reflections on Curating this Early Work

Screening, lecture, and discussion with Chris Hill

Each of the works to be screened and discussed represent critical contributions to the aesthetics of emerging time-based electronic media during a period that saw radical cultural and social change in the U.S. Discussions of seminal work by Steina & Woody Vasulka, Richard Serra & Nancy Holt, Vito Acconci and the People’s Communication Network will also reflect on curatorial practice at points of major technological shifts, the re-performance of artists’ personal archives, and the process through which cultural practice and the issues that inform that practice are remembered and/or potentially lost.

Chris Hill is a media curator, artist and educator, who is currently teaching in the Film/Video School at California Institute for the Arts (2012-present) where she was recently appointed Associate Dean for Academic & Student Affairs. From 2008-11 she served on the Executive Collective of Nonstop Institute, a faculty/alumni collaborative educational initiative (2008-09) in response to the closure of Antioch College, and subsequently an arts and education non-profit (2009-11) in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She was an Associate Professor of Media Arts at Antioch College (1997-2008) where she co-directed four Summer Documentary Institutes (1998-2001) and has also taught in the Video/Performance Studio at the Technical University in Brno, Czech Republic (1997). Hill received an MFA in Media Study and Photography from SUNY Buffalo (1984), and from 1984-96 was Video Curator at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center in Buffalo. Hill curated a 17-hour collection Surveying the First Decade: Video Art & Alternative Media in the U.S., 1968-1980 (1996) that has been distributed to over 450 museums and universities internationally by the Video Data Bank (School of the Art Institute of Chicago). Her recent publications and media work have investigated documentary media on the U.S. incarceration crisis, contemporary artists’ work that re-embodies experimental film and grassroots video projects of the early 1970s, tactical media initiatives in response to a community emergency, and beekeeping.

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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.

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The MAT Seminar Series takes place in the Engineering Science Building (ESB), room 2001.