Field Notes from the Art + Environment Conference: Day 1

Artists, scientists, designers, and writers converged last night in Reno, NV to launch Nevada Museum of Art’s Art + Environment Conference. The guests included: Vito Acconci, Matt Coolidge (the CLUI), Chris Drury, Fritz Haeg, Michael Light, W.J.T. Mitchell, Geoff Manaugh (Bldgblog).

For three days (Oct. 2-4), scientists and artists come together to cross-pollinate aesthetic experience with scientific methods and tools. They will explore, as William L. Fox, conference moderator said, “how and why art has become as important as science in understanding the nature of environments.” This interdisciplinary exchange was planned to discover insights into the environment and human actions.

Kicking off the conference, artist Chris Drury gave a gallery tour that included documentation of his Winnemucca Whirlwind installation, a major desert drawing near Nixon, NV.

Our blog and daily summaries on Metropolis P/O/V invite you to participate in the discussions. For more information on the panels and events we’ll be covering, click here.

Our blog is part of a larger project: an ongoing experiment that involves college students and teachers in collaborations that reach across education, journalism, art, media, and design. With www.ExtremeMediaStudies.org, we are generating a “hybrid voice” for education capable of addressing the challenges and complexities of global change.

The blog “sends signals” to students enrolled in a New School University Lecture course, relaying to them new ideas presented at the conference. On October 5th, we take those ideas on the road for a project we call Testing Ground.

At that time we’ll explore sites across the Southwest where people have tested out their relationships with the landscape in different-and sometimes extreme-ways. Using many different types of media—Polaroid cameras, camera obscuras, video, blogging, and text messaging—we’ll explore some urgently needed cross-pollinations between art and science. We’ll also experiment with the different mediums to fuse knowledge construction with aesthetic experience.

The organizers of Art + Environment believe that by creating a context for artists and scientists to think with and through one another’s disciplines, they seed innovative approaches to urgent issues that shape the contemporary moment. As artist-educator-journalists, we sense that this conference creates a context that will become common in students’ future work and daily lives-one that requires collaboration and creative response across multiple disciplines

This creates an irresistible context for our own work. It brings together core interests of our media-art practice (www.smudgestudio.org): what can happen when humans, the landscape, and the built environment converge to create exquisitely concentrated zones of contact.

Smudge studio, Extreme Media Studies, and blog postings on Art + Environment are collaborative efforts of professor Elizabeth Ellsworth and project art director Jamie Kruse.

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