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Upcoming Lectures

February 21 . 6pm . AlloSphere (Elings Hall) || Lance Putnam

February 27 . 1pm . ESB 2001 || Ben Bogart

February 28 . 11am . Elings 2611 || Jeffrey Greenberg

March 6 . 1pm . ESB 2001 || Ricardo Dominguez

March 13 . 1pm . ESB 2001 || Oliver Gaycken

On Space Curves as a Substrate for Audiovisual Synthesis and Composition

Tuesday, February 21th, 6:00pm

Elings Hall, second floor

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In this talk, Lance presents the use of space curves as a fundamental construct for audiovisual composition. Curves provide an attractive starting point for audiovisual synthesis as they are relatively easy to translate into sound and graphics. Systems for producing curves for art and design date back to at least the 18th century and have carried through the technological stages of mechanical, electronic, and digital. Contemporary uses of space curves will be presented through Lance's audiovisual compositions "S Phase" and "Adrift", the hydrogen atom composition "Probably/Possibly?" done in collaboration with Dr. JoAnn Kuchera Morin and Dr. Luca Peliti, and the "Mutator VR" virtual reality experience done in collaboration with Dr. William Latham and Professor Stephen Todd at Goldsmiths college. The talk will be followed by immersive performances of the 3D audiovisual works "Adrift" and "Probably/Possibly?" in the UCSB AlloSphere three-story virtual environment.

Lance Putnam is a composer with interest in generative art, audiovisual synthesis, digital sound synthesis, and media signal processing. His work explores questions concerning the relationships between sound and graphics, symmetry in art and science, and motion as a spatiotemporal concept. He holds an M.A. in Electronic Music and Sound Design and a Ph.D. in Media Arts and Technology from the Media Arts and Technology program at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His dissertation "The Harmonic Pattern Function: A Mathematical Model Integrating Synthesis of Sound Graphical Patterns" was selected for the Leonardo journal LABS 2016 top abstracts. His audiovisual work "S Phase" has been shown at numerous locations including the 2008 International Computer Music Conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland and the Traiettorie Festival in Parma, Italy. His work "Adrift", an audiovisual composition designed for virtual environments, is on rotation in the UCSB AlloSphere and was performed live at the 2015 Generative Arts Conference in Venice, Italy. From 2008 to 2012, he conducted research in audio/visual synthesis at the AlloSphere Research Facility and TransLab in Santa Barbara, California. From 2012 to 2015, he was an assistant professor at the University of Aalborg in the Department of Architecture, Design and Media Technology where he also taught multimedia programming in the Art and Technology program. He is currently investigating new approaches to procedural art as a research associate in Computing at Goldsmiths, University of London under the Digital Creativity Labs. Here he is developing the virtual reality experience "Mutator VR" which has been shown shown at New Scientist Live, London, at East Gallery, Norwich University of Arts, and at Cyfest 17, St. Petersburg, Russia.

http://www.mat.ucsb.edu/~l.putnam/

http://www.mutatorvr.com/

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Imagination projects reality; reality constrains imagination.

Monday, February 27th, 1:00pm

Engineering Science Building, room 2001

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I strive to be a generalist; I am an artist who works at the edges of disciplines integrating and challenging knowledge, most recently in cognitive science. I favor a broad and integrative view of knowledge creation that rejects specialism. In the background of my work is an ongoing inquiry into the relation between the world as conceived and the world as independent of cognition. I think of subjects (imagination) and objects (reality) as mutually constructive; as subjects we project and impose categories on objects, while objects’ physical reality as independent of cognition constrains and challenges those categories. I use computational systems to examine the power struggle between subjects and objects. I build machine subjects that manifest categorization processes (unsupervised clustering algorithms) that suppress variation in order to emphasize sameness. My machine subjects categorize, organize and reduce the infinite complexity of sensory reality. In doing so they participate in a process of abstraction that breaks sensed reality into atomic particles that serve as the material from which novel images are constructed. These ‘mental’ images are of the world—their mechanisms uncover underlying statistical truths about reality as independent of cognition, but they are also of us—they are projections of bounded subjective understanding. In this talk I will introduce the conceptual context for my work and present a survey of selected computational works including “Dreaming Machines”, “Self-Organized Landscapes”, “Watching and Dreaming”, “As our gaze peers off into the distance, imagination takes over reality…” and current work in development.

Ben Bogart is a Vancouver-based interdisciplinary artist working with generative computational processes (including physical modeling, chaos, feedback systems, evolutionary computation, computer vision and machine learning) and has been inspired by knowledge in the natural sciences (quantum physics and cognitive neuroscience) in the service of an epistemological enquiry. Ben has produced processes, artifacts, texts, images and performances that have been presented at academic conferences and art festivals in Canada, the United States of America, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, Turkey, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Brazil, Hong Kong, Norway and Spain. He has been an artist in residence at the Banff Centre (Canada), the New Forms Festival (Canada) and at Videotage (Hong Kong). His research and practice have been funded by the Social Science and Research Council of Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts. Ben holds both master’s and doctorate degrees from the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University. During his master’s study he developed a site-specific artwork that uses images captured live in the context of installation as raw material in its ‘creative’ process. In is doctoral work he made “a machine that dreams” that is framed as both a model of dreaming and a site-specific artistic work manifesting an Integrative Theory of visual mentation developed during his doctorate. Ben is currently using this model in the appropriation and reconstruction of popular cinematic depictions of artificial intelligence.

http://www.ekran.org/ben/wp/

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Visualization in AI & Neural Networks

Tuesday, February 28th, 10:30am

Elings Hall, room 2611

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In the past few years, neural networks, have re-emerged as one of the key technologies in AI related work. Because of their ability to find solutions in complex problem spaces, they are being applied in almost every field at this time. On one hand they are used to recognize and transform information from images, sound, speech, or text applications, and on the other they can generate and modify inputs as well, creating pictures, music, speech, poems, and software. Though the latter is very weak with comparison to the efficacy of the former, the step forward is amazing. In this talk we’ll look a brief technical look at architecture and theory of neural networks to form an intuitive understanding of how they work and the challenges there are in computing them. We’ll pay particular attention to convolutional neural nets in particular.  We’ll look at various related visualization techniques for understanding how these conv-nets process information such as direct matrix representations, t-SNE, and see what insights we can gain through generative work, like DeepDream & DeepVis. t-SNE is one  visualization that can be easily applied to multi-dimensional data to form insights with low effort. There are others that come from NLP, which is a different AI approach than neural networks, that are used when working with language. Two we’ll look at are based on ‘word embeddings’ : Word2Vec, and network mapping (controversy measures).

Jeffrey Greenberg has a degrees in Bioengineering and Performance Art from UCSD. Currently, Vp of Engineering at PeerWell.co, where he is focused on improving outcomes of surgeries and other treatments, he has patents in ultrasound imaging, and voice recognition applications. With a history of product and deep technology innovation in such diverse areas as medicine and diagnostic imaging, social media, telephony, operating systems, and games, he aims to work on technology for doing good. Combining experiences at Bell Labs, working on AI, and edge technology together with an Art and culture focus ( including NEA, NYSCA, and foundation grants) he has a history of finding areas that matter and advancing the state-of-the-art.

http://www.jeffrey-greenberg.com

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Since 1998, the Media Arts and Technology graduate program hosts a periodic seminar series. The transdisciplinary nature of our program is also reflected in the diverse range of fields our speakers come from: engineering, electronic music, art and science.

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The MAT Seminar Series takes place in the Engineering Science Building (ESB), room 2001.

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Re-Wired: Engineering a New Creative Culture in the Long 1960's

Monday, September 26th, 1pm

Engineering Science Building, room 2001

In the mid-1960s, an art and technology movement burst forth across the U.S. and Europe. It was catalyzed by corporate support, media exposure, a curious public, and – most of all – the enthusiastic participation of artists and engineers in formal and institutional collaborations. This talk explores this sudden blossoming of enthusiasm for art and technology and its subsequent and rather sudden retreat. While not ignoring the artists, I wish to restore the engineers and scientists to the foreground. I wish to recover the history of the engineers who contributed time, technical expertise, and aesthetic input to their artist colleagues. Following this thread through to the present day, I argue that today’s proliferation of academic and commercial art/design/technology/innovation centers is a legacy of a foundation set down by artists and engineers in the 1960's.

W. Patrick McCray is a professor in the Department of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Originally trained as a scientist, McCray’s most recent book (2013) is The Visioneers: How an Elite Group of Scientists Pursued Space Colonies, Nanotechnologies, and a Limitless Future. This won the Watson and Helen Miles Davis Prize from the History of Science Society as the "best book written for a general audience", as well as the Eugene M. Emme Award from the American Astronautical Society. Besides authoring three other books about the history of science and technology, he also recently co-edited a collection of essays called Groovy Science: Knowledge, Innovation, and the American Counterculture which the University of Chicago published in 2016.

In addition to grants from the National Science Foundation – including one to create a center at UCSB looking at the societal implications of new technologies – McCray has held research fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies (2010), the California Institute of Technology (2012), and the Smithsonian (2015). He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (elected 2011) and the American Physical Society (elected 2013). Finally, in 2016, McCray was an invited attendee at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

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Collaborating with Electronics

Monday, October 17th, 1pm

Engineering Science Building, room 2001

From circuit bending to modular synthesis, artists and inventors around the world have strived to push beyond the pre-defined roles of modern electronics to find new and inspiring applications for the medium. Edwards will share his experience in the field of creative electronics as an artist and teacher for more than a decade to show how adventurous artists can not only harness the power of electricity but also gain inspiration from its organic behaviour.

Peter Edwards is a american artist, teacher and inventor working in the field of creative electronics. Over the past 15 years Edwards has worked closely with DIY electronics communities through his business casperelectronics and through outreach projects at universities and arts organisations around the world. He studied sculpture at the Rhode Island school of design and developed the creative electronics department at Hampshire College. more recently, he studied electrical engineering and electro acoustics at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague while collaborating with musical electronics pioneers STEIM in Amsterdam. In 2016 Edwards moved to the Czech Republic to join forces with synthesizer producing arts collective Bastl Instruments. He now splits his time between Brno with Bastl Instruments and Brooklyn with arts collective The Silent Barn.

Casper Electronics

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Waste Matters: You Are My Future

Monday, October 24th, 1pm

Engineering Science Building, room 2001

Waste Matters: You Are My Future by Kathy High explores the field of biological arts and High's own projects. Her current research focuses on the immune system — and particulary looks at the interaction of our human gut microbiota as a biological symbiosis, a holobient, collaborative interaction between species – or as Donna Haraway refers to us in this age of the Anthropocene, "we need each other in an oblig­ate sym­bio­sis.” High looks at research in fecal microbial transplants and gut biomes to better understand the important function of bacteria and fungi in our bodies. Using the metaphor of interspecies love, with immunological bacterial players, Waste Matters expands ideas around imbalances of internal biomes as a mirror to the imbalances in our larger ecological sphere, where the gut is a “hackable space.” As a patient with Crohn’s disease, High's knowledge in autoimmune disorders and the body’s ecology is first hand. Recent research into the human body's biomes has lead to better understanding of the various ecological systems we live among. Having dealt with issues around shit all her life, High sees her own attempts to make this material invisible. In this new work she hopes to bring light to ways our culture hides waste. She posits a more holistic view allowing for dialog between ecologists, biologists, activists, and artists to catalyze the imaginary around the abject. “The transformation of waste is perhaps the oldest pre-occupation of man.” - Patti Smith

Kathy High (USA) is an interdisciplinary artist, educator working in the areas of technology, science and art. She works with animals and living systems, and considers the social, political and ethical dilemmas surrounding areas of medicine/bio-science, biotechnology and interspecies collaborations. She has received awards from Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and National Endowment for the Arts, among others. Her art works have been shown at documenta 13 (Germany), Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Lincoln Center and Exit Art (NYC), UCLA (Los Angeles), Science Gallery, (Dublin), NGBK, (Berlin), Fesitval Transitio_MX (Mexico), MASS MoCA (North Adams), Videotage Art Space (Hong Kong). High is Professor of Video and New Media at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY.

Artist Website || Embracing Animal || Vampire Study Group

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Early Video in the U.S. (1968-75): Considering the Emerging Aesthetics of Time-based Electronic Media & Reflections on Curating this Early Work

Monday, November 17th, 1pm

Engineering Science Building, room 2001

Each of the works to be screened and discussed represent critical contributions to the aesthetics of emerging time-based electronic media during a period that saw radical cultural and social change in the U.S. Discussions of seminal work by Steina & Woody Vasulka, Richard Serra & Nancy Holt, Vito Acconci and the People’s Communication Network will also reflect on curatorial practice at points of major technological shifts, the re-performance of artists’ personal archives, and the process through which cultural practice and the issues that inform that practice are remembered and/or potentially lost.

Chris Hill is a media curator, artist and educator, who is currently teaching in the Film/Video School at California Institute for the Arts (2012-present) where she was recently appointed Associate Dean for Academic & Student Affairs. From 2008-11 she served on the Executive Collective of Nonstop Institute, a faculty/alumni collaborative educational initiative (2008-09) in response to the closure of Antioch College, and subsequently an arts and education non-profit (2009-11) in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She was an Associate Professor of Media Arts at Antioch College (1997-2008) where she co-directed four Summer Documentary Institutes (1998-2001) and has also taught in the Video/Performance Studio at the Technical University in Brno, Czech Republic (1997). Hill received an MFA in Media Study and Photography from SUNY Buffalo (1984), and from 1984-96 was Video Curator at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center in Buffalo. Hill curated a 17-hour collection Surveying the First Decade: Video Art & Alternative Media in the U.S., 1968-1980 (1996) that has been distributed to over 450 museums and universities internationally by the Video Data Bank (School of the Art Institute of Chicago). Her recent publications and media work have investigated documentary media on the U.S. incarceration crisis, contemporary artists’ work that re-embodies experimental film and grassroots video projects of the early 1970s, tactical media initiatives in response to a community emergency, and beekeeping.