UC Berkeley’s Arts Research Center & Stanford University’s Arts Institute

UC Berkeley's Arts Research Center & Stanford University's Arts Institute

After being in lovely southern California I flew up to the Bay area for the fourth and final day of the ARC research visits. On March 13 at I met with Tony Cascardi, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities at UC Berkeley and founding member of the Arts Research Center. Tony talked about how practice-led research was being done there. They have created structures, led by faculty, which can be duplicated depending on the various subjects that they are engaged in at the moment such as ‘Global Urban Humanities’ and ‘Art + Time’. Each research unit has a team of faculty members and is driven by different members for specific projects under each research heading. He also talked about how they interacted with the university art space there, the David Brower Center.

Later in the day I met with the wonderful Sarah Curran, program director of the Arts Institute at Stanford University. Sarah, who started at the program’s inception, told me about its history and the importance that the university administration has placed on Stanford students engaging with the arts. The project was started because the arts were named as one of five presidential priorities in 2008. They are funded by endowments and will be moving into a new building that will also house the Anderson Collection; it is located next door to the Cantor Arts Center. Sarah emphasized the importance of faculty buy-in early in the project, with student buy-in closely following. They now feel that after initiating mostly faculty- and student-driven projects, they can move on to bringing in artists to work with other disciplines on collaborative projects. She talked about how Stanford now offers majors in computer science + music and computer science + dance. It was a really fitting end of the research journey that allowed us to see many different and exciting projects taking place in California around art, science, and technology. Please see the links below for more information on these projects.


UC San Diego – Arthur C. Clark Center for Human Imagination & Active Structures + Materials Research Unit

UC San Diego - Arthur C. Clark Center for Human Imagination & Active Structures + Materials Research Unit

On March 12 Steve Goddard and I drove down to the campus of the University of California at San Diego where we met with Sheldon Brown, who runs the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination and is professor and vice chair of the art department there. Sheldon also runs the Center for Hybrid Multi-core Productivity Research. He comes to the question of hybrid practice from a very interesting position. Although trained in the arts, he creates work through computing and has done so since the early nineties. He has written several grants to the NSF that have been funded, and he has been working with one foot in the field of art and one in the field of computing for some time. One of the things that Sheldon talked about was trying to get technologists and artists to work together on problems where they use imagination through technology. Some of his collaborative research projects have paired science fiction writers with technologists.

We also met with Lisa Cartwright, professor of communication and science studies at UCSD, who is moving to visual arts and works with Jordan Crandall, who is chair of the art department and director of the active structures + materials research unit. Jordan had kindly set up a meeting with us a few times but unfortunately was unable to make our meeting because of a scheduling conflict. Lisa told us that the research unit had been given a new space in the Structural Materials and Engineering building. She also told us about the great work being done by EMPAC and Patricia Olynyk at Washington University. Lisa was also kind enough to elaborate on her current work around wind turbines in Kansas. Both Lisa and Sheldon were fantastic and I recommend that you check out their work, and Jordan’s, via the links below.


LACMA’s Art + Technology Lab & the UCLA Art|Sci Lab

LACMA's Art + Technology Lab & the UCLA Art|Sci Lab

Day 2 of the ARC research trip took Saralyn Reece Hardy, SMA Director, Steve Goddard, Associate Director and Head Curator, and me to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. There we met with Amy Heibel the associate vice president of technology, web, and digital media there who is also running the Art + Technology Lab. Amy was kind enough to tell us about the private partnerships the museum developed to get the project started and how the museum was moving toward a more user based model. Amy took us to their space in the Balch Library and told us about some of their plans for the future. If you click on the link below you will see the start of what promises to be a great project in the spirit of LACMA’s seminal ‘Art & Technology’ exhibition. After our visit with Amy we saw a lot of great art including the James Turrell retrospective and ‘See the Light: Photography, Perception, Cognition’.



Our second visit that day was to UCLA again where we met with Christina Agapakis who has created a very interesting hybrid practice between visual art and synthetic biology. Christina was kind enough to show us her lab as well as give us a tour of the campus on our way to visit the Art|Sci Lab in the Broad Center for Art. Christina introduced us to the lab’s director Victoria Vesna who told us about all of the projects that they were doing. Victoria told us about how she felt that the core of a good collaboration was friendship and that a real collaboration was one that lasted years. She also told us about their Nanolab which is a summer school for young artist/scientists who work with various specialists over their term. The Art|Sci Lab is a really wonderful project and you can read about via the links below.




Red Hot Research No. 13

red hot research logo

4:00 p.m. Friday, March 28

The Commons at Spooner Hall

This week’s lineup:

Dave Tell (Communication Studies): Grain Elevators and Postmodernity

Hajar Aghababa (Institute for Policy and Social Research): Early Literacy

Marc Greenberg (Germanic Languages & Literatures), Ada Emmett (KU Libraries), Town Peterson (Ecology & Evolutionary Biology): Open Access and Bottlenecks in a Global Scholarly Communication System

Gregory Rudnick (Physics & Astronomy): The Formation and Evolution of Galaxies

Jeremy Martin (Mathematics): Network Flow Models

Red Hot Research is a series of research sharing sessions that aims to introduce KU researchers to the work of their colleagues, stimulating multidisciplinary inquiry and the formation of new collaborative research teams.  The format of Red Hot Research sessions is inspired by Pecha Kucha.

Lecture by Lawrence Weschler: Art and Science as Parallel and Divergent Ways of Knowing

Wednesday, March 26, 7:00 – 8:00 PM
Spencer Museum of Art, 309 Auditorium
Artists and scientists tend to think of their ways of probing the world as distinctly different. Such was not always the case. In the spirit of the Spencer’s exhibition James Turrell: Gard Blue, longtime New Yorker writer Lawrence Weschler—Emeritus Director of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU and author of Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder and Everything that Rises: A Book of Convergences—explores this subject, with side-discussions on artists David Hockney and (Turrell’s fellow Light and Space master) Robert Irwin, subjects of two of his most recent biographies.
Can’t wait to hear Weschler in person? Check out his books!
Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: Thirty Years of Conversations with Robert Irwin
True to Life: Twenty-five Years of Conversations with David Hockney

UCLA Game Lab

ucla game lab

On March 10th I started a weeklong research junket in California. The first of my visits was to the UCLA Game Lab where I enjoyed the hospitality of the Director, Eddo Stern, and the Game Lab manager, Tyler Stefanich. They talked to me about the origins of the lab and what it is attempting to do. Eddo talked a lot about creating a hybrid culture at the lab that combined DIY, Indie game, and commercial computer gaming cultures. The Game Lab is a fantastic place for artists who see games as a medium for expressing a multitude of ideas. I saw games that explored feminism, racial stereotypes, Animalia, etc. It was a great place for me to start thinking about how institutions are approaching research in California but also how new forms of culture and community need institutional support to thrive and grow in ways that we may never have thought possible. Check out their website to see all of the great work they have done.


The beauty of math

In honor of Pi Day, a little math news:

Euler's identity

BBC Science & Environment reports that the human brain responds to “beautiful” mathematical formulae in the same way it responds to “beautiful” works of art. Euler’s identity (above) was rated the most beautiful formula by mathematicians in the study–and while I do not have the background to fully appreciate the math involved, even I find it astonishingly beautiful! Srinivasa Ramanujan’s infinite series and Riemann’s functional equation were considered the ugliest formulae in the study.

Ahmed Matter: An Artist’s Perspective of Arabia


On Sunday, March 9, Saudi Arabian artist and physician, Ahmed Matter, will share his insights on the interdisciplinary resonances of his creative practice, which blends calligraphy, traditional styles of manuscript illumination, photography, video, and installation, to an audience gathered at the Spencer Museum of Art. His talk will follow a Saturday presentation at Kansas City’s Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art given as part of the Echoes Symposium, in which artists and art historians will explore the relationships of contemporary artists to the legacies of Islamic Art.

Mater co-founded the groundbreaking Edge of Arabia in 2008, and since then his work has drawn international attention. Works by Mater are included in the collections of the British Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. His interdisciplinary art—encompassing photography, calligraphy, painting, installation, performance and video—explores the narratives and aesthetics of Islamic culture in an era of globalization and consumerism. Recently, he has been concerned with the representation of traumatic events of collective historical dimensions, and the ways in which video and photography can document physical and psychological violence. Mater’s artistic practice is informed by his work as a medical doctor as well as by his traditional upbringing in Saudi Arabia.

Spencer Museum of Art Events Page


Echoes Symposium: Translations


Pictured above: Ahmed Matter, Illumination Makkiah (diptych), from the Illumination series, 2012, gold leaf, tea, pomegranate, Dupont Chinese ink and X-ray film print on paper painting. Currently on view at the Nelson-Atkins Museum