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Saturday, May 12
10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
MANA CONTEMPORARY

 

Organized on the occasion of the exhibition, “Only Human,” presented at Mana Contemporary by NEW INC and Nokia Bell Labs, this day-long symposium offers a deeper dive into some of the ideas, themes, and technological research that are being explored in the works on view. It will also reflect on the legacy of the Experiments In Art & Technology program (1967–2001), founded by artists Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Whitman, and Bell Labs engineers Billy Klüver and Fred Waldhauer. 

Radically novel in its day, E.A.T. was responsible for bringing the worlds of art and engineering closer together, and for introducing an interdisciplinary exchange that would go on to influence and shape both fields. Today, the worlds of art and technology are not quite as far apart as they must have seemed since the program’s inception. In many ways, the fields have even become deeply intertwined.

This symposium offers an opportunity to look back at the profound change that has occurred over the past fifty years in art, technology, and society, and to consider how today’s collaborations between artists and technologists might have a different role to play.

SCHEDULE:

10:00 AM - Check-In & Coffee/Breakfast
11:00 AM - Welcome & Intro Remarks
11:15 AM - INTRO: The Future of Innovation Is Art & Technology Collaborations
11:40 AM - PANEL: Experiments in Art and Technology: Then & Now
12:45 PM - ARTIST TALK: Hammerstep & Nokia Bell Labs Engineers in Conversation
1:20 PM - PANEL: Breaking the Fifth Wall: Re-Imagining the Theater Experience
2:30 PM - LUNCH
3:45 PM - ARTIST TALK: Sougwen Chung & Nokia Bell Labs Engineer in Conversation
4:00 PM - Hammerstep Performance (RSVP required, limited capacity)
4:20 PM - PANEL: Parallel Visions: Co-Agencies of Man & Machine
5:40 PM - Sougwen Chung Performance
6:00 PM - Cocktails
7:00 PM - Hammerstep Performance (RSVP required, limited capacity)

 

 

I. The Future of Innovation Is Art & Technology Collaborations

SPEAKER
Domhnaill Hernon is Head of Experiments in Arts and Technology (E.A.T.) at Nokia Bell Labs. He graduated with a BEng in aeronautical engineering, a PhD in fundamental fluid mechanics from the University of Limerick, and an Executive MBA from Dublin City University, Ireland. He is passionate about turning research and ideas into reality and exploring the bounds of creativity to push the limits of technology. Hernon was previously responsible for turning Bell Labs research assets into proto-solutions that could be tested at scale in the market, pioneering new methods to overcome the “Innovation Valley of Death.” He is currently responsible for Bell Labs global activities in E.A.T. where he collaborates with the artistic/creative community to push the limits of technology to solve the greatest human need challenges.


II.  Experiments in Art and Technology: Then & Now

Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) introduced a new way of thinking and working between the fields of art and engineering. Its mission was to engage artists and technologists in a critical examination of the forces shaping contemporary society and culture. E.A.T. paved the way for generations of artists who would explore technology as a new medium, develop new forms of creative expression, and investigate the present and future impact of digital media. In this conversation, Julie Martin, the original curator and director of E.A.T. is joined by Domhnaill Hernon of Nokia Bell Labs and Helen Hsu of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation to discuss E.A.T.’s work, its influence, and how the worlds of art and technology have transformed over the past fifty years. To learn more about the history of E.A.T., visit “The Story of Experiments in Art and Technology” portion of the “Only Human” exhibition, which features archival photography, text, and documentation of performances from the program’s seminal event in 1966, “9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering.”

SPEAKERS:
Julia Kaganskiy is the Director of NEW INC, the New Museum’s cultural incubator for art, design, and technology. She is a recognized cultural producer across art and technology. She previously served as global editor of The Creators Project, a partnership between VICE Media Group and Intel. In 2010, she founded #ArtsTech Meetup, an initiative that brings together digital artists and professionals from New York’s museums, galleries, and art-related startups. In 2012, Kaganskiy was profiled in the AOL/PBS series “MAKERS,” which honored women leaders. In 2015, she was named in Crain’s New York Business’s 40 Under 40 list, and has been cited by Fast Company and Business Insider as one of the most influential women in technology.

Julie Martin is Director of Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), the nonprofit organization co-founded in 1966 in New York by artists Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Whitman and engineers Billy Klüver (Martin’s late husband) and Fred Waldhauer to encourage and facilitate collaborations between artists and engineers. Martin joined the E.A.T. staff in 1967. With Klüver and art historian Barbara Rose, Martin co-edited the book Pavilion, 1972, that documents the Pepsi Pavilion, which was designed and built by E.A.T. for Expo ’70 in Osaka, Japan. Martin collaborated with Klüver on numerous articles on art and technology, including “Working with Rauschenberg,” for the exhibition catalogue published on the occasion of Rauschenberg’s 1997 retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. She is currently editing a collection of Klüver’s writings. Martin is co-executive producer of a series of films, begun in 1995, which document the artists’ performances in “9 Evenings: Theatre & Engineering” at the 69th Regiment Armory, New York, in October 1966. She is also the coordinating producer of Whitman’s recent theater performances Swim (2015), Local Report (2012), Passport (2011), and MoonRain (2010). Born in Nashville, Martin graduated from Radcliffe College with a degree in philosophy and from Columbia University with a Master’s degree in Russian Studies.

Helen Hsu is Assistant Curator at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. She co-edited and contributed to the exhibition catalogue, Rauschenberg in China, 2016. Hsu graduated from Stanford University.

Domhnaill Hernon is Head of Experiments in Arts and Technology (E.A.T.) at Nokia Bell Labs. He graduated with a BEng in aeronautical engineering, a PhD in fundamental fluid mechanics from the University of Limerick, and an Executive MBA from Dublin City University, Ireland. He is passionate about turning research and ideas into reality and exploring the bounds of creativity to push the limits of technology. Hernon was previously responsible for turning Bell Labs research assets into proto-solutions that could be tested at scale in the market, pioneering new methods to overcome the “Innovation Valley of Death.” He is currently responsible for Bell Labs global activities in E.A.T. where he collaborates with the artistic/creative community to push the limits of technology to solve the greatest human need challenges.


III.  Hammerstep & Nokia Bell Labs Engineers in Conversation

Garrett Coleman and Jason Oremus, co-founders and creative directors of Hammerstep, will introduce the audience to the world of INDIGO GREY, an original immersive theater production currently being developed by the studio. They will share their creative process and research residency at Nokia Bell Labs, and will be joined in conversation by members of the Bell Labs drone technology team to discuss details of their collaboration.


IV.  Breaking the Fifth Wall: Re-Imagining the Theater Experience

Theater has long been a space for technological innovation and experimentation. The first program produced by E.A.T. in the 1960s was called 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering and featured experimental performances from Robert Rauschenberg, Merce Cunningham, Yvonne Rainer, and Lucinda Childs, among others. In recent years, spectacular special effects, high-tech scenography, and the rise of immersive theater, among other innovations, have all contributed to an evolution in the proscenium theatrical experience. This panel will explore new audience engagement and storytelling possibilities afforded by technology in the space of theater, dance, and the audience-performer dynamic.

SPEAKERS:
Karen Wong is the Deputy Director of the New Museum in New York City, where she helps develop its artistic entrepreneurship. Wong cofounded the initiatives IDEAS CITY, which explores the artistic and cultural future of cities, and NEW INC, the first museum-led incubator for art, technology, and design. Previously, Wong served as managing director of architectural firm David Adjaye Associates from 2000 to 2006. She also supports emerging and youth artists across architecture, music, urban design, and education. She writes for various media outlets and speaks on the contemporary role of the museum.

HAMMERSTEP is a collective that uses choreography, technology, and nontraditional audience engagement to tell new stories through theater and dance. Their unique percussive style, which fuses elements of Hip-Hop, Irish dance, African stepping, and martial arts, acts as a coded language for the future, focusing on the symbolic potential of movement.

Lance Weiler is recognized as a pioneer in mixing storytelling and technology. WIRED Magazine named him “one of [twenty-five] people helping to reinvent entertainment and change the face of Hollywood.” Weiler has designed experiences that have reached millions of people via theaters, mobile devices, and online. In 2011, he was nominated for an International Emmy in digital fiction for his work on Collapsus: The Energy Risk Conspiracy. In addition, he is a founding member and director of the Columbia University School of the Arts' Digital Storytelling Lab.

Toni Dove lives and works in New York. Since the early 1990s, she has produced unique and highly imaginative embodied hybrids of film, installation, and performance. In her work, performers and participants interact with an unfolding narrative, using interface technologies such as motion-sensing to “perform” on-screen avatars. Presented in the United States, Europe, and Canada, as well as in print and on radio and television, her projects include Archeology of a Mother Tongue, a narrative virtual reality installation with Michael Mackenzie for Banff Centre for the Arts; Artificial Changelings, an interactive installation, which debuted at the Rotterdam Film Festival; Spectropia, a feature-length live-mix movie performance for two players, which premiered at the Wexner Center for the Arts; Lucid Possession, a live-mix video performance with multiple robotic screens and musical performers, which premiered at Roulette; and The Dress That Eats Souls, a robotic installation, which premiered in the retrospective of twenty years of Dove’s interactive cinema work “Toni Dove: Embodied Machines,” currently at the Ringing Museum.


V.   Sougwen Chung & Nokia Bell Labs Engineer in Conversation

Multimedia artist Sougwen Chung investigates the relationship between humans and computers through the drawn line, as well as installation, sculpture, film, and performance. She will discuss her ongoing research into drawing collaborations with robotic entities, as well as how her time at Nokia Bell Labs informed the new body of work she developed for “Only Human.” Chung will be joined by Bell Labs engineer Larry O’Gorman, whose motion engine software helps drive her fleet of drawing robots.


VI.  Parallel Visions: Co-Agencies of Man & Machine

In the age of artificial intelligence and machine learning, our reliance on, relationship to, and co-existence with machines is being rapidly re-negotiated with each technological breakthrough. This panel will explore the nature of human-machine collaboration and the implications for authorship, agency, composite imaginations, and pluralistic approaches to the creative process. It will also investigate our fast-developing relationships with robots and what their imminent integration into our daily lives might mean.

SPEAKERS:
Sougwen Chung uses drawing, installation, sculpture, and performance to explore the difference between handmade and machine-made marks as an approach to understanding the relationship between humans and computers.

 

 

Taeyoon Choi is an artist and co-founder of School for Poetic Computation. In 2018, Choi is working on Distributed Web of Care and ongoing research with a critical perspective towards technology, ethics, justice, and sensitivity to the concept of personhood. His art practice involves social practice, software, electronics, paintings, and installations. He was an Artist-in-esidence at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace, The Frank-Ratchye Studio for Creative Inquiry, and Eyebeam Art and Technology Center. His projects were presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. As a fellow at Data and Society, he is focusing on disability and normalcy, and enhancing inclusion within art and technology. He is an adjunct professor at NYU ITP, where he teaches ‘Teaching as Art.’

Christiane Paul is Chief Curator and Director of the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, a professor in the School of Media Studies at The New School, and Adjunct Curator of Digital Art at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She is the recipient of the Thoma Foundation's 2016 Arts Writing Award in Digital Art, and her recent books include A Companion to Digital Art, 2016; DigitalArt 2015; Context Providers – Conditions of Meaning in Media Arts 2011; and New Media in the White Cube and Beyond, 2008. At the Whitney Museum, Paul has curated exhibitions including “Cory Arcangel: Pro Tools” and “Profiling,” and is responsible for artport, the museum’s portal to Internet art. Other curatorial works include “Little Sister (is watching you, too)” at Pratt Manhattan Gallery, New York; “What Lies Beneath”Borusan Contemporary inIstanbul, Turkey); and “The Public Private” at Kellen Gallery” at The New School in.

Georgia King is a technology and design editor born in Melbourne, Australia currently based in New York. A New York Times best-selling editor, she has led international teams of award-winning journalists and has spoken at the United Nations, Creative Mornings, and the Future of Storytelling, among others. Formerly the editor of the award-winning design magazine Kinfolk, she has fused her background in lifestyle journalism with her passion for emerging technology. She aims to bring a quality-of-life focus to the future's most pressing topics and translate dense, academic subjects into engaging content through op-eds on qz.com. As one of Quartz's Ideas Editors, King focuses on tech- and design-related pieces from a human-interest angle.


VII. PERFORMANCES

Hammerstep, INDIGO GREY: The Micah Grey Experiment
Theater, 4:00 PM & 7:00 PM (RSVP required)

Sougwen Chung, Drawing Performance
Gallery 1, 5:40 PM