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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

LACMA Launches Art and Technology Lab

John Eger sent us this update on LA  County Museum of Art

December 10, 2013

An exciting thing happened today: we launched our new Art + Technology Lab at LACMA. The Lab is an experiment in bringing artists and technologists together to develop projects that we plan to share with the public here at the museum. We also issued our first call for proposals. Artists and collectives interested in pursuing projects that engage emerging technology are invited to apply by January 27, 2014, for grants up to $50,000, plus in-kind support from our advisory board and participating technology companies.
We plan to fund a small number of projects in the first year of the program. Several technology companies have joined the effort: Accenture, NVIDIA, DAQRI, SpaceX, and Google are helping to make this project possible. Our advisory board also includes independent artists and academics, such as Dan Goods (visual strategist at Jet Propulsion Labs) and Ken Goldberg (professor of industrial engineering and operations research at the University of California, Berkeley).

Robert Irwin and James Turrell in the anechoic chamber at the University of California, Los Angeles. The artists explored the concept for an unrealized project with the Gannet Corporation as part of the original Art and Technology program at LACMA. Photograph © Malcolm Lubliner
This isn’t the first time LACMA has embarked on a program to bring artists and technologists together. The Art and Technology program at LACMA that ran from 1967 to 1971 is legendary, and included Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenberg, James Turrell, Robert Irwin, and others. When we launched our online Reading Room a few years ago, the Report on the Art and Technology Program at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1967–1971 quickly jumped to the top of the list of popular out of print publications. The publication includes some amazing documentation of the collaborations between artists and industry, including several projects that failed to lead to a completed work of art, but gave rise to innovations many years or even decades later.
The Lab is inspired by the history at LACMA, but the program we’re launching now differs in some respects. Today, compared to the late 1960s, the boundary between art and technology is much more fluid. We fully expect to see participants in the program that move easily between both disciplines. That makes aligning artists and technology developers all the more exciting and fruitful. We also plan to reveal projects in progress through regular presentations at LACMA, including talks with artists and demonstrations of prototypes. Our commitment to exploring the nexus of art and technology is long-term, and we look forward to building on the program over time.

The exterior entrance to the new Art + Technology Lab at LACMA via the Director’s Round Table Garden at the east end of the museum campus.
The Lab is housed in our newly remodeled Balch Research Library. The County of Los Angeles supported the renovation, which wraps up this month, with a grant from their Productivity Investment Fund. Those of you familiar with the research library will, we hope, be surprised and pleased by the transformation. We opened up a wall of windows looking out on the park and gave the space an overhaul that enables us to accommodate not only the new Lab program, but also more books and space for our librarians to work with researchers.
For questions about the Art + Technology Lab, or to find out about upcoming programs at LACMA, join our mailing list:
Amy Heibel, Vice President, Technology, Web and Digital Media 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Natalie Jeremijenko: Women who talks to fish

Four years ago, the Australian-born artist Natalie Jeremijenko stood at the edge of Pier 35 in Downtown Manhattan, trying to start a conversation with some striped bass. Just north of the Manhattan Bridge, she and several collaborators dropped 16 tall buoys into the East River. The buoys were fitted with submersible sensors that monitored water quality and with LEDs that flashed when fish swam by, charting the Piscean passage. “I fell into the river four times installing it,” Jeremijenko recalls. “You have no idea, just standing on land, how ferocious those currents are!”

The installation, “Amphibious Architecture,” devised with the architect David Benjamin, stayed in the river for several months — a miniature skyline bobbing and blinking in the reflected glare of the real thing. With the piece, Jeremijenko was interested, she said, in “highlighting what’s under this pretty reflective surface that enhances real estate value but is actually a diverse, teeming habitat.” Viewers on land alerted to the presence of fish could send them text messages care of an SMS number. The fish then “responded” with texts of their own, chatting about themselves and their surroundings: “Hey there! There are 11 of us, and it’s pretty nice down here. I mean, Dissolved oxygen is higher than last week. . . .”

At New York University, where she is a professor of visual art, Jeremijenko had developed seaweed bars containing a PCB-chelating agent that observers were encouraged to hurl into the river — food meant to help rid the fish, and by extension, the water, of toxins. This snack was formulated to taste “delicious” to fish and humans alike: if you were feeling peckish, you could have what they were having. “It’s a very visceral way of demonstrating that we share the same natural resources, we eat the same stuff,” she once explained. “They’re not inhabiting a different world.”

Read the whole five page story in the New York Times

Sunday, December 8, 2013

And the Word is STEAM by John M. Eger

John M. Eger

And The Word is STEAM

Van Deerlin Endowed Chair of Communications and Public Policy and Director of the Creative Economy Initiative, San Diego State University

Published in the Huffington Post

Last month, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL), Co-Chairs of a Congressional Caucus committed to putting A (the role the arts play in nurturing young peoples new thinking skills) into the language of the America COMPETES Act (also know as the STEM act), together with 28 other house members, wrote the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology urging inclusion of provisions supportive of STEAM.
Its time they said, that:
"STEAM should be recognized as providing value to STEM research and programs across federal agencies through 'Sense of Congress' provisions and language clarifying that current research, data collection, and STEM programs may include arts integration strategies and programs,"..."Additionally, we ask that, where appropriate, data collection, surveys, and reporting on STEM activities and grant making in the federal government specifically look at arts integration activities. Finally, current interdisciplinary and inter-agency programs should be strengthened and language added to clarify that arts integration is an avenue for doing so."
The Caucus reflects what more and more educators, parents, and policymakers and researchers are saying about merging the arts and sciences and creating more meaningful interdisciplinary experiences as the best way to nurture the next generation of leaders and workers for a workforce demanding creativity and innovation.
Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa, scientist, artist, writer, poet, and designer based in India, has said, "Art and science ... are two sides of the same coin." While science is Dr. Challa's first love, art and literature are "life itself."
Dr. Challa, like many scientists see science as art and art as science and often inspired by each. Unfortunately, many others still see art and science as distinct and separate disciplines. Not unlike physicist-turned-novelist C.P Snow, who wrote over fifty years ago there are "two cultures":
"Physicists and writers exist, where "hostility and dislike" divide the world's "natural scientists -- its chemists, engineers, physicists and biologists -- from its literary intellectuals."
He found it strange that more scientists weren't artists and musicians and more artists lacked a similar interest in the sciences. What happened to the classically trained person, he mused. In his day all these subjects were "branches of the same tree."
The challenge of our age is to blur those lines, merge art and science, and develop the new thinking skills kids need to be creative and innovative in the wake a truly global-knowledge-economy.
Robert and Michele Root-Bernstein who authored a seminal book called Sparks of Genius looked and at the top 150 scientists who lived over a period of 200 years and made a rather startling discovery that each was equally accomplished in the fine arts as well as the hard sciences.
To those educators lobbying for more emphasis on the sciences, they pointed out that Galileo was a poet and literary critic. Einstein was a passionate student of the violin. And Samuel Morse, the father of telecommunications and inventor of the telegraph, was a portrait painter.
The Root-Bernstein's examined the minds of inventive people and found that creativity is something both artists and scientists can learn and, more importantly, that the seemingly disparate disciplines of art and science, music and math, complement and enhance one another.
When the White House and Congress first passed the America COMPETES Act, they were clearly thinking about the vital import of science, technology, engineering and math--not art. At the time, they authorized $151 million to help students earn a bachelor's degree, math and science teachers to get teaching credentials, and provide additional money to help align kindergarten through grade 12 math and science curricula to better prepare students for college. The Act has been reauthorized several times since.
In the meantime, educators are discovering the power of the arts and art integration, adding "A" or the arts to the mix, and insuring that both hemispheres of the brain are nurtured, the whole brain is engaged, and art and the humanities and all the sciences reinforce the connections.
Also in the last few years, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), realizing that creativity and innovation clearly support U.S. economic interests , launched an effort to fund proposals that demonstrate how art and science can be woven together in an artwork, or play, demonstration or lab experiment or educational effort. Proposals costing no more that $10,000 to $100,000 were encouraged.
The National Science Foundation, responsible for STEM initiatives, also funded the Art of Science Learning last year to produce three conferences -- in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Illinois and San Diego, California -- to look at what business, education, and communities across the United States were doing to merge the "two cultures" of art and science; and is closely examining ways to make young people creative and innovative.
More recently, the NSF funded experiments in Chicago, San Diego and Worcester , Massachusetts, called "Integrating Informal STEM and Arts-Based Learning to Foster Innovation," to find a new model for sparking creativity and innovation in our schools. Specifically they stated:
"The goal of the project's development activities is to experiment with a variety of innovation incubator models"... "to generate creative ideas, ideas for transforming one STEM idea to others, drawing on visual and graphical ideas, improvisation, narrative writing and the process of using innovative visual displays of information for creating visual roadmaps."
Both the NSF and the NEA stopped short of endorsing STEAM per se -- but it now may be time to change the focus and change the vocabulary and thus send a message to schools across the country: Merge art and science curricula, provide more interdisciplinary courses.
Barney Mansavage, a principal architect at SRG Partnership focusing on architecture for education and civic places, put it this way:
"Architecture is not a science, it's an art; cost estimating is not a science, it's an art; leadership is not a science, it's an art"... "We might also say that even science is not a science. It, too, is an art, and as such, evolving from STEM to STEAM makes real sense."
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