[iDC] iDC Digest, Vol 34, Issue 24

Pamela Jennings pamelaj at cs.cmu.edu
Fri Aug 24 13:17:21 UTC 2007


I thought I'd jump into the curatorial thread here for a second as I have a
show that I curated at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington DC
this summer called "Speculative Data and the Creative Imaginary: shared
visions between art and technology".  Today, as a matter of fact is the last
day - for anyone in the DC area.  I tried to inform this list of the event.
But I didn't frame it properly as an "issue" and the info post was screened
from the list.  I've spent an incredible amount of energy "framing" or
positioning the exhibition for the U.S. federal government and computer
science research community - doing such for this list of digerati seemed to
be above the call of duty at the time.  But here we go....  

Before I do such below, I wanted to connect to Paul D. Miller's post about
the lack of diversity represented in the curatorial lists posted and the
membership of such privileged spaces as this listserve and the institutions,
many of them academic that we on this list represent.  For those who know me
- you know which side of the diversity fence I sit, for those who don't you
may read my post below and surmise that the exhibition discussed below is
but another example of the homogeneity of the field with one token
representation of color - myself.  A question comes to mind - can an
individual make themselves a token?  But as you'll see, the exhibition had
several goals that were orthogonal to the diversity issue.  But I'd like to
return to another thread on this list about the crisis of diversity in the
field of creative digital media.

The exhibition was organized with a few key strategic goals in mind.
First of all, it was the first extended exhibition (3 months) to accompany
an Association for Computer Machinery (ACM) conference.  It was also the
first extended exhibition of digital media art to be fully funded by the US
National Science Foundation and the ACM. And it was the first extensive
showcase of creative digital media in the halls of the National Academy of

One of the goals of the exhibition was to support the new NSF CreativeIT
funding program with examples of creative digital media that bridge the
arts, design, critical thinking, and technology research.  The grant for the
exhibition wreaked havoc at the NSF and was rejected three times by a final
screening process to ward out grants that may cause the agency to be audited
-- this despite the fact that the grant was approved by the CISE program.
After all - the NSF doesn't fund art! Because the "audit warning button" was
sounded, other awards in the CreativeIT program where also under threat of
not receiving final approval.  As a result, new policy was written to
protect the CreativeIT program grants from this audit loop hole.

Another goal of the exhibition was to be part of the program for the 2007
ACM Creativity and Cognition conference.  The exhibition opened at the start
of this conference in June.  The theme of this year's Creativity and
Cognition conference was creativity support tools - a new angle on human
computer interaction and human factors engineering led by Ben Shneiderman
and Gerhard Fischer.  This has been a very interesting community of practice
from the computer science research sector.  The group tends to focus on the
problem of developing new tools to enable people (including artists) to
creativity solve domain specific problems.  Lacking in their dialogue has
been discussion of the wealth of creative thinkers and makers who are
creating their own tools - and the impact of those tools on the creative
field - and beyond.  I have been active with this CS research group for
about the past 3 years.  And many of the creative thinkers and makers I have
introduced to them as well as their tools and techniques - are becoming part
of discussion and planning among this group of CS researchers and potential

One last goal of this exhibition was to turn the extremely traditional halls
of the National Academy of Sciences into a gallery of digital inquiry and
delight.  After all it was the National Academy of Sciences and the
Rockefeller Foundation that sponsored the now historically famous report
"Beyond Productivity: Information, Technology, innovation and Creativity."
The exhibition program at the National Academy of Sciences has a long
history of showing primarily 2D works - very large paintings and photographs
- of some interpretation of a scientific phenomenon (e.g. aesthetic
interpretation of genome patterns and macroscopic images of dust mites).  It
is also an historical building.  So nothing could be affixed to the walls.
It's an office building - all sound works required headphones And it's an
eloquent hall - so the mechanisms for display had to be well appointed.  You
can see at exhibition opening link below - the solutions that were taken to
appease all.

Works from 15 creative digital media artists were included in the
exhibition.  These works were selected to represent a breadth of work being
done in the field - although by no means did it attempt to cover all
categories.  To anchor the contemporary field of practice as a continuum of
historical events, a special essay about the E.A.T 9 Evenings of Art and
Engineering was written for the catalog and a special screening of Robert
Rauschenberg's "Open Score" was presented July 12, 2007 by Julie Martin.

The participants and catalog essays are written below.  There are a limited
number of catalogues available. Eventually, I will post the catalogue PDF


Speculative Data and the Creative Imaginary: shared visions between art and
National Academy of Sciences
Washington D.C.
June 4 - August 24, 2007

Screening of Robert Rauschenberg's "Open Score" with special introduction by
Julie Martin July 12, 2007

Catalogue Table of Contents:
Dr. Wm. A. Wulf, former President of the National Academy of Engineering

"What is this stuff and why is it here"
JD Talasek, Director Office of Exhibitions and Cultural Programs

"The Conversation Continues: When Artists and Engineers First Collaborated"
Robin Oppenheimer

"When Practices Converge and Transform"
Pamela Jennings

Nell Breyer

"The Scalable City"
Sheldon Brown

"Visaphors: High Definition Stereo Visualizations"
Donna Cox

"Resound! Fanfares for Trumpet and Computer and McBlare the Robotic
Roger Dannenberg

"Shaping Forms Series"
Ernest Edmonds

"7000 Oaks and Counting"
Tiffany Holmes

"Sui Generis"
Pamela Jennings

"Aurora and flowerGarden"
Greg Judelman and Maria Lantin

"Global Collaborative Visual mapping Archive"
George Legrady

"AlloBrain at AlloSphere"
Marcos Novak

"Test People Series"
Sabrina Raaf

"exhale: breath between bodies"
Thecla Schiphorst

"The Hybrid Invention Generator"
Bill Seaman

"Life Spacies II"
Christa Sommerer & laurant Mignonneau

"Thinking Machine 4
"Martin Wattenberg

Here are links to the programs and conferences I mentioned above:

Exhibition Opening Night Photos
http://studio416.cfa.cmu.edu/ (follow the link on the home page for the

National Academy of Sciences

2007 ACM Creativity and Cognition conference

NSF CreativeIT program

Creativity Support Tools Group



Pamela Jennings, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Art and HCI
Carnegie Mellon University
pamelaj at andrew.cmu.edu | http://studio416.cfa.cmu.edu 

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