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Art + Technology + UNT = ?


by Stephen Becker 27 Aug 2009

This afternoon in Denton, a meeting of the minds will converge to explore ways that technology can be better utilized to serve art. The symposium has been organized by a pair of UNT professors through the iARTA (Initiative for Advanced Research in Technology and the Arts) program. It’s a heady discussion, so it makes sense […]

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This afternoon in Denton, a meeting of the minds will converge to explore ways that technology can be better utilized to serve art. The symposium has been organized by a pair of UNT professors through the iARTA (Initiative for Advanced Research in Technology and the Arts) program. It’s a heady discussion, so it makes sense that it’s taking place on a college campus.

The LEAP symposium will gather researchers from the U.S., Canada and Europe to discuss how the scientific and artistic communities can better work together to help each other out.

“Traditionally in a university setting, you’ll have an art department, a music department and an engineering department,” says David Bithell, a professor of musical composition at UNT. “How do you get these entities working together for the creation of projects and research that really fall between those disciplinary boundaries?”

Bithell organized the event with Jennifer Way of the College of Visual Arts and Design. The first session, titled “Making Art and Technology Collaborations Happen Within Institutions” is today at 3:45. It will mainly serve as an opportunity for the panelists to present work that they have been doing on the topic.

When I spoke with Bithell on Wednesday, he made it clear that these discussions are not being held solely to benefit artists. When artists get their hands on new technology, they are often the ones who can expand its possibilities. He uses the iPhone for example. Its main function is obviously to make calls, but once creative types got a hold of it, those calls almost became secondary to the endless possibilites for applications.

“Suddenly it’s this thing that can do an amazing amount of things far beyond the original intent of Apple,” he said.

The point is, there are creative minds in both the artistic and scientific communities, but they don’t always think in the same way. But it’s those different modes of thinking that actually lead to breakthroughs.

“I think it’s always the artist’s job to be at the forefront of exploring possibilites and not just necessarily the obvious ones. So one of the greatest things an artist can do when working with technology is taking existing rescourses or newly emerging technologies and playing with them in the way that a creative mind really can.”

The program continues Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m; all sessions are free and open to the public and will be held a the Gateway Center on the UNT campus.

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