John Boylan’s Conversation: Art & Technology

| February 13, 2015 | 0 Comments
February 17, 2015 @ 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm

John Boylan’s Next Conversation: “Art and Technology”

Event Date: Tuesday, February 17, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Admission is free. Tell your friends.

Location: Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle

To link to this announcement, do so at

The Summary

This time we’re revisiting the worlds of art and technology. Read on for details.

The Guests (see bios below)

Jason Salavon, artist and educator

Genevieve Tremblay, artist, designer, educator, scholar, and cultural entrepreneur

Michael Cohen, researcher, Microsoft Corporation

Robin Oppenheimer, media arts historian, curator, and scholar

Thomas Deuel, neuroscientist, sound artist, and neurologist

The Story

I’ve been thinking about technology a lot lately, especially the creative use of new technologies. We’ve been going through huge shifts in how new computer technologies drive our lives. From the diagnostic tools that a doctor—or a mechanic—uses to the super brains that we carry around in our pockets, our everyday lives are filled with what would have seemed to be magic just a few decades ago. And the “we” in these sentences is no longer quite the elite that it once was. Cheap smart phones are at the least making inroads into the digital divide across the world.

For years, in the world of art high tech has been something of a poor sister. With major exceptions, of course, too much tech-based art has been overwhelmed by how cool a specific technology is, or underwhelmed by how inadequate a specific technology is for, say, presenting a subtle, complex, and powerful image.

That’s changing, I think, especially as we are seeing huge advances in what new technologies can do, and seeing artists who can get beyond a specific technology’s “wow” factor. And given the extent to which technology is integrating into our lives, we need to see more and better examinations of those integrations.

That’s happening. The ongoing marriage of art and technology is in the air. As I write this, the Seattle branch of Pecha Kucha just staged a set of presentations entitled Technology + Art: Bridges and Throughways. I was one of the guests; it was a rousing set of presentations by an assortment of artists, teachers, and thinkers. Meanwhile, in December the Stranger ran a piece by Jen Graves, What Only Artists Can Teach Us About Technology, Data, and Surveillance. It’s a long, detailed look at the work happening at the University of Washington’s emerging-technology department, DXArts, and the visiting artist program at Microsoft Research.

Ultimately, art is technology. Attempting to master art is attempting to master a technology, whether it’s painting with oils, bronze casting, or photography. But it’s also stretching that technology, learning to make it do strange and unimaginable things. Where do the new technologies, driven by the semiconductor and the integrated circuit, fit into that continuum? Do they represent a break from cutting stone or casting bronze, or are they just a new stage in a continuum? And are there differences between “art and technology” and “art and science?”

Looking back, technology is often a topic in this series, but we have not specifically addressed the pairing of art and tech since 2006. It’s about time for a revisit. The guests then were Kate Seekings, Trimpin, and Jack Dollhausen. Seekings was at Microsoft at the time; Trimpin and Dollhausen are both well-respected figures in the world of art and technology in the Pacific Northwest; both have traditionally worked primarily with electronics and older analog technologies. In their work, any digital elements happen at the fundamental levels of machine code.

This time, our guests work more at the intersections of art and the newest technologies. Several trained as both artists and scientists/technologists and combine traditional technologies with the leading edges of new technologies. This is a brilliant group of people.

Come and talk with them.

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The Guests in Detail

Michael F. Cohen is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research. He joined Microsoft in 1994 from Princeton University, where he served on the faculty of Computer Science. Michael received The 1998 SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award for his contributions to the Radiosity method for image synthesis. Dr. Cohen also served as paper’s chair for SIGGRAPH ’98.

Michael received his Ph.D. in 1992 from the University of Utah. He also holds undergraduate degrees in Art and Civil Engineering from Beloit College and Rutgers University respectively, and an M.S. in Computer Graphics from Cornell. Dr. Cohen also served on the Architecture faculty at Cornell University, and is currently an Affiliate Professor at the University of Washington.

His early work at Cornell and Princeton on the radiosity method for realistic image synthesis is discussed in his book “Radiosity and Image Synthesis” (co-authored by John R. Wallace). His work at the University of Utah focused on spacetime control for linked figure animation.

At Microsoft, Dr. Cohen has worked on a number of projects ranging from image based rendering, to animation, to camera control, to more artistic non-photorealistic rendering. One project focuses capturing the complete flow of light from an object for later rendering from arbitrary vantage points. This work, dubbed The Lumigraph, is analogous to creating a digital hologram. Michael also has continued his work on linked figure animation, focusing on means to allow simulated creatures to portray their emotional state. Recent work has focused on computational photography applications. These have ranged from creating new methods for low bandwidth teleconferencing, segmentation and matting of images and video, technologies for combining a set of “image stacks” as a Photomontage , to the creation of very high resolution panoramas, such as the GigapixelArtZoom.

Robin Oppenheimer is an internationally recognized media arts historian, curator and scholar who has worked in the field since 1980. She was Executive Director of two media arts centers in Atlanta and Seattle and is currently a Lecturer at the University of Washington Bothell and adjunct faculty at Cornish College, with a PhD in Interactive Arts and Technology. Her areas of research include media arts histories, participatory media, and media activism.

Jason Salavon ( is currently a visiting artist at Microsoft Research.

Using software processes of his own design, he generates and reconfigures masses of communal material to present new perspectives on the familiar. Though formally varied, his projects frequently manipulate the roles of individual elements arranged in diverse visual populations. This often unearths unexpected patterns as the relationship between the part and the whole, the individual and the group, is explored. Reflecting a natural attraction to popular culture and the day-to-day, his work regularly incorporates the use of common references and source material. The final compositions are exhibited as art objects, such as photographic prints and video installations, while others exist in a real-time software context.

Born in Indiana (1970), raised in Texas, and based in Chicago, Salavon earned his MFA at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and his BA from The University of Texas at Austin. His work has been shown in museums and galleries around the world. Reviews of his exhibitions have been included in such publications as Artforum, Art in America, The New York Times, and WIRED. Examples of his artwork are included in prominent public and private collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago among many others.

Previously, he taught at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was employed for numerous years as an artist and programmer in the video game industry. He is currently associate professor in the Department of Visual Arts and the Computation Institute at the University of Chicago.

Genevieve Tremblay is an artist, designer, educator, public scholar, and cultural entrepreneur. She conceptualizes and facilitates pioneering initiatives at the convergence of arts & culture, science, education and technology. Since 2000, she has created collaborations with innovators across disciplines that ignite new thinking and apply emerging technologies to civic and community challenges. Building bridges between interdisciplinary realms is her specialty.

Her professional work includes award-winning design and art direction, as well as her generative work as artist and independent curator. She teaches in the Art, Design, Film and Media Department at Cornish College of the Arts. Genevieve has received more than thirty local and national grants for school-based programs integrating art and technology in the Seattle and Bellevue School Districts. Her research, curatorial and public scholarship initiatives have been funded by 4Culture, Bellevue Schools Foundation, SAPPI Ideas that Matter: Design for the Public Good, AIGA, The National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller, Benton and Ford Foundations. Genevieve received her MFA from Massachusetts College of Art and her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University.

Thomas Deuel is a neuroscientist, sound artist, and neurologist. He is currently a neurologist at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute and an Affiliate Professor at Digital and Experimental Arts (DXArts), University of Washington.

His Deueling Thumbs StudioLab is a hybrid between scientific laboratory and art studio dedicated to audio and music-based art and neuroscience research. It is a workspace for combining Neuroscience, Sound Art, Neurophysiology, and Music Composition to create original works of audio installation art and interactive new media music and sound.


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