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Red Hot Research

red hot research logo

4:00 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30

The Commons at Spooner Hall

Back for the spring semester, with the first event hosted by the Spencer Museum’s own Casey Mesick, curator of global indigenous art!

Here’s the lineup:

Don Haider-Markel (Political Science): Politics of Obesity

Rachel Vaughn (Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies): Dirt & Cleanliness

Jarron Saint Onge (Sociology): Health Behavior Patterns

Thomas Prisinzano (Medicinal Chemistry): Drug Abuse Medications

Joshua Rosenbloom (Economics): R&D Funding and Knowledge Production

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.

James Lee Byars & The Hudson Institute


ARC is currently developing a project that will aim to reassess collaborative projects of the past under a new framework. One of the projects that we are interested in seeing a reassessment of is James Lee Byars residency at the Hudson Institute, a think-tank in New York state, for the Art and Technology exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  Byars began working at the Hudson Institute in May 1969 up until the end of the year. He would often speak with the Director and co-founder of the Institute Herman Kahn. Those conversations and being in residence  led Byars to four ambiguous points – 1)”The exultation of being in the proximity of extraordinary people. “ 2) “The one hundred most interesting questions in America at this time.”3) “The next step after E=MC2.” 4)”One hundred superlatives about the Hudson Institute.”  Of the four points Byars reduced his project aims to the one hundred most important questions at this moment saying that “there is a terrific prejudice against asking questions.” The artist then wanted Gallup to do a nationwide poll for him determining what those questions might be but the costs proved prohibative. What eventually became one of the outcomes of this line of thinking was a television program called The World Question Center in Belgium where Byars asked viewers to send in their important questions. For ARC one of the most important outcomes was a small work where Byars has teletext tape repeating the mantra “Putting Byars in the Hudson Institute is the artistic product”.  Here the artist exclaims the importance of his engagement with non-artists and reveals that no other outcome is neccesary. This is not to say that product is not important but that the focus on product over communication is often counter intuitive to the collaborative process. Thank you Mr. Byars and the Hudson Institute.

Collaborative Spaces at the University of Chicago: The Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry and The Arts/Science Initiative


Two intersecting programs at the University of Chicago are engaged in exploring modes of interdisciplinary exchange across the arts, sciences, and humanities by facilitating collaborations between faculty, graduate students, visual artists, musicians, actors, choreographers and directors. The Gray Center emerged from the University of Chicago’s arts and humanities programs through an endowment from Richard and Mary L. Gray, augmented by collaborative fellowships offered in partnership with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, while the Arts/Science Initiative works alongside the University’s Offices of the Provost and Vice President, Institute for Molecular Engineering, programs in the sciences, and the National Laboratories.

 Both projects nurture collaborations between regional and international artists and distinguished scholars in fields ranging from physics and molecular genetics to art history and theology. Additionally, each of these initiatives encourages undergraduate and graduate participation in interdisciplinary art research through various internships and fellowship opportunities. Two of the many notable artistic inquiries that have materialized within these programs are the Gray Center’s exploration “The Physics and Aesthetics of Light,” a journey of experimental research and teaching undertaken by architect James Carpenter and physicist Sidney Nagel in 2011-2012, and an ongoing analysis of collaborative strategies funded by the Arts/Science Initiative through which conceptual artist, Shane Huffman, and professor of molecular genetics and cell biology, Jotham Austin II, are working to document, map and analyze successful—and ineffective—methods of interdisciplinary collaboration.

 As is common across many interdisciplinary arts research programs in the United States and abroad, many of the investigations undertaken under the auspices of both the Gray Center and Arts/Science Initiative are manifested in the public sphere as performances or installation-based artworks with a performative component. In addition, both of these programs host informal discussions and participate in publication of books and journal articles through more conventional academic venues. The characters of the labs hosted by these programs underscore their distinct approach to collaborative dialogues; the Gray Center Lab is a tangible space that can serve as both a collaborative studio environment and a venue for exhibitions, education, and performances, while the “Pop-Up Labs” hosted by the Arts/Science Initiative take place in the realm of dialogues and seek to facilitate the fluid exchange of ideas, comparable to the conversations that KU’s own academic community has sought to inaugurate through The Commons. Further resonances with ongoing dialogues in the Spencer Museum echo through the Arts/Science initiative’s Cabinet Series, a program of performances and conversations inspired by the legacy of the early modern Wunderkammer, as a space where art, science, and innovation co-mingle to elicit wonder and inspire discovery. 


The Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry

The Physics and Aesthetics of Light:

The Art/Science Initiative:

“Exploring Artistic Conceptualization vs. Hypothesis Driven Interpretation of Observations,”

The Cabinet:


Image: One of multiple installation projects created as part of “The Physics and Aesthetics of Light,” sponsor by the Gray Center

Rohini Devasher and Amateur Astronomy

ARC is developing a project that is exploring ideas in amateur astronomy, archeoastronomy, and indigenous knowledge. So it was our happy accident that Spencer Museum of Art curator Kris Ercums told us about the fascinating work of Rohini Devasher whose work ‘Bloodlines’ was recently purchased by the Museum. Devasher has been inspired by amateur astronomy for some time and had a research residency at the Max Plank Institute. This inspiration has often taken the form of wall murals and drawings. She has also documented the many encounters with amateur astronomers that she has met in India stargazing. If you would like to know more about her work with amateur astronomy or the museums recent purchase of her work click on the links below or watch the video. Enjoy.



Necessity is the mother of invention and in these times of lean budgets and shifting priorities museums have to adjust to a new normal.  L ’International is a consortium of museums and cultural institutions that have decided to work collectively for five years in an attempt to develop new models for museum practice and art institutions in general. The consortium currently has a project, “The Uses of Art: on the legacy of art 1848 – 1989”, at the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven where possible futures for our beloved institutions of art are being examined. Below are a few links to the projects and a wonderful book by Stephen Wright called ‘Towards a Lexicon of Usership.’

Call for submissions: Hangar Art Center Spring Sessions (deadline Jan. 31, 2014)

Hangar is a centre for arts production and research in Barcelona, Spain, set up by the Association of Visual Arts of Catalonia (AAVC) in 1997. It provides support facilities for artists and designers and offers services adapted to production needs associated with the arts world. Hangar has issued an open call for their second edition of Spring Sessions, a series of intensive and interdisciplinary meetings between artists and other professionals to develop larger research projects. The call is addressed to collaborative projects that carry out theoretical and/or practical research while contributing to the transfer of knowledge between different disciplines. This year’s edition will take place over the course of one week between February and April and four weeks during the month of June; it seeks to support projects that address the issue of transferability in the field of art, science and technology. Deadline to submit: 31 January 2014. For more information, please see

Call for proposals: Subtle Technologies (deadline Jan. 20, 2014)


In May 2014, Subtle Technologies will be holding its 17th annual festival in Toronto, Canada. The symposium, performances, workshops, screenings, exhibitions and networking sessions will provide a forum to explore ideas and pose questions at the intersection of art, science and technology. Subtle Technologies is known internationally for presenting artists and scientists whose work is at the cutting edge of their respective disciplines and creating a space for dialogue that leads to future discussions and collaborations. The theme for 2014 is “Open Culture.” The festival will celebrate the ways artists and scientists are creating and making use of tools and techniques to harness the collective power, knowledge and creativity of the citizen. Subtle Technologies is currently accepting proposals by artists, curators and scientists for exhibitions, performances, symposium presentations, posters, screenings and workshops that address the theme of Open Culture. Deadline to submit: 20 January 2014. Find out more at