In recent years, the intersection where art and science meet has become a whole lot busier.
Along with the increase of mobile computing, omnipresent surveillance and other rapidly evolving technologies, a new generation of artists has arisen to use and explore that technology in their work. Many of those creative thinkers, it just so happens, work in and around the University at Buffalo.
That’s partly why Sarah Bay-Cheng, an associate professor in the university’s theater and dance department, has launched a new endeavor called the Techne Institute. The project will host its first public event, a colloquium called “Media Mobilities,” on Saturday in the UB Center for the Arts. The event will feature some of the country’s top artists and academics working with emerging technologies, including DJ and artist Paul D. Miller, who is currently the artist-in-residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. He will be joined by the internationally exhibited artist Hasan Elahi of the University of Maryland, Brooklyn-based artist and writer Jill Magid and several UB artists and faculty members.
Bay-Cheng said the institute’s mission is to build on existing projects at UB, to foster new collaborations between the arts and sciences and to engage the Western New York public in the new projects and ideas that it helps to foster.
“What we’re looking at is making people aware of some of these intersections,” Bay-Cheng said. “UB has, in fact, a long-standing history of doing work at this intersection and has some really high-profile people who’ve been working at the forefront of this area for a very long time, both on the arts side of it but also on the sciences. What we’re looking to do is to really capture that, bring it to people’s attention and then build on that legacy by fostering new work.”
The institute, and Saturday’s colloquium, will draw on work by current university faculty members. Mark Shepard, who recently presented his work at the Venice Bienale, will talk about his tongue-in-cheek efforts to draw attention to the surveillance networks that surround many Americans and the seemingly sinister course of many consumer-driven technologies. Teri Rueb will talk about her GPS-based interactive installations, while Stephanie Rothenberg will discuss her own projects, which “question the boundaries and social constructs of manufactured desires.”
The day’s main event, at 4 p.m., will be a presentation by DJ Spooky, who has been credited with bringing the remix culture of pop music increasingly into the official spheres of the art world. He’ll then give a performance with help from UB musicians Sandra Berdick and T.J. Borden.
Also on tap are presentations from Elahi, whose bad experience with the FBI gave him the idea to deluge the agency and other security organizations with an endless barrage of data from his life; and from Magid, whose project “Failed States” is based on her own unexpected encounter with a 2010 event in which a man shot a gun into the air in front of the Texas State Capitol. The event will end with a discussion featuring the artists in conversation with the University of Maryland’s Jason Farman and Elise Morrison of Yale University.
For Bay-Cheng, this wide-ranging colloquium and the founding of the institute will help to enrich and broaden our understanding of the technologies that surround all of us.
“I think there is a lot of growing momentum in this area. The idea is that the sciences are inherently creative and technology requires creativity and innovative and imaginative thinking,” she said. “You have a whole generation of people looking to make what they can from new technological methods. To a certain extent, this is nothing new, but technology has become available to the average person in a way that it’s never been before.”
What: “Media Mobilities: Surveilling the Intersection of Art, Mobile Technologies, and Ubiquitous Computing”
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: University at Buffalo Center for the Arts, North Campus, Amherst
Tickets: Free, but registration is recommended
Info: 645-0587, www.techneinstitute.com