Landscape, a Slightly Different View 9e2 artist Keith Salmon speaks at Microsoft Research

One of the 9e2 projects involves Microsoft researcher Neel Joshi and Seattle filmmaker Dan Thornton and others working with Keith Salmon, a landscape painter from Scotland. Keith is visually impaired, and has been incorporating sound into his work. Neel and others at Microsoft have been working on Kinect-based sonification technology, focused on accessibility for visually impaired people.

Keith spoke recently at Microsoft Research, in a fascinating lecture about his experience as an artist and specifically as an artist who has had to factor visual impairment into his practice, and about his excitement in working with the new technology.

Here is that lecture.

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9 Evenings Films at SIFFX Works by Robert Whitman, Yvonne Rainer, and Steve Paxton are featured in SIFFX premiere

When “9 Evenings: Theatre & Engineering” happened in 1966, there was a good amount of documentary footage. Some of that was subsequently released, most famously in the DVD release of Robert Rauschenberg’s Open Score. But a lot of it was unfinished until recently.

SIFFX, the new media festival within the Seattle International Film Festival, will be premiering three of those recently completed documentaries. Directed by Barbro Schultz Lundestam and produced by Julie Martin, the films were brought to Seattle by 9e2 stalwart and media historian Robin Oppenheimer. Providing a historical background to today’s work in new media, the three films highlighting the 1966 “9 Evenings” work of Robert Whitman, Yvonne Rainer, and Steve Paxton. You can get background information on each of the three individual performances at the 9e2 history page. Click the thumbnails to access the individual histories.

The three films are showing at the SIFF Film Center in the Seattle Center’s Northwest Rooms, on Friday June 3 at 2 pm. Here is where to get tickets. And there’s a panel discussion at 10:30 Friday morning, “What’s Old is New,” which will, as Robin puts it, “give an overview of 60s art and technology ideas and artists (Expanded Cinema, Intermedia, VanderBeek) that give context to the 9 Evenings and VR.” The whole SIFFX festival has a lot of overlap with 9e2. Also check out Robin’s panel discussion Feminism 360°, about questions of feminism in the growing world of VR, on Saturday morning, June 4.

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Dayna Hanson’s “28 Problems” coming in October. Dancer, choreographer, and filmmaker Dayna Hanson will be premiering “28 Problems” at 9e2 in October

28 problems is a new dance by Dayna Hanson based on a discarded sheet of hand-written calculus problems, and integrating animated gifs and robotically moving chairs. Performed by Hanson and Jim Fletcher (Gatz, Devotion) with two supporting dancers, 28 problems is an effort to transfer content from one set of signs, mathematics, into another set of signs, dance. But 28 problems is less a dance about math than an investigation into what an act of translation can communicate when the translator speaks only the target language and not the source language. Can translational gaps hold interest in and of themselves?


More about Dayna Hanson

Photo credit: Miguel Edwards


9 Evenings at Cornish 1966 Performances re-presented in 2016

Over the past year, Cornish College of the Arts featured a course about “9 Evenings: Theatre & Engineering.” The course, team-taught by Brendan Hogan, Robin Oppenheimer, and Robert Campbell, explored the 1966 events, and then challenged students to employ 21st century technologies to recreate five of the original 10 performances by the end of the course.

The students chose to explore and build on the 1966 performances by Robert Whitman, Yvonne Rainer, Robert Rauschenberg, Lucinda Childs, and John Cage. Crammed into a basement space at Cornish, the 2016 end-of-year performances had none of the physical expansiveness of 1966. But they did strongly convey that sense of being “happenings” that the 1966 performances had. As coursework, they tended to burst with the notion that the students were learning a lot, about art, about history, about how to work with technology, and about how to integrate technology into their art.

Each of the performances had a complex web of computers, projectors, sensors, with a fair amount of the last-minute fiddling and fixing that marked the 1966 performances. In some cases, the students took off from 1966; in others, there were direct quotes. John Cage’s remote microphones around Manhattan, connected through phone lines, were replaced with live smart phone feeds from around Seattle. His mic’ed appliances were replaced by a beautifully mic’ed manual typewriter.

One of my favorites of the five saw an equipment failure, as will happen in such performances, which completely changed the project and arguably made it stronger. The piece was a 21st century take-off from Yvonne Rainer’s 1966 piece, “Carriage Discreetness.” The project saw five dancers, all students, each under a cone of colored light, with sensor on the floor in front of each. The dancers would be doing improvisations to music chosen at random from a huge digital music library, which was divided into tracks: hip hop, soul, swing, classical, and so on.

Someone chosen from the audience would hit a colored switch on a small wireless switch box. Doing so would choose the track and the color of the light for the five dancers. Each dancer would then improvise a bit from the random selection they got, and would dance until they happened to block the sensor, which would shut off their music, and the next dancer’s piece of music would start. After all five dancers did their improvisations, the process would repeat.

But something went wrong, and the sensors malfunctioned. The dancers, who expected to be improvising for maybe 15 to 20 seconds at a stretch, found themselves going for a minute or longer with each performance. And what was supposed to be fast and short, maybe 20 minutes or so, went on for nearly an hour and a half.

The dancers were obviously getting exhausted, and the whole thing could have turned into something like a dance marathon, “They Shoot Cornish Dancers, Don’t They?” But the dancers more than rose the occasion, and what were intended to be brief snippets became whole, random, improvised performances within the confines of the cones of light, similar to what happens with Tiny Dances. The effect was stunning.

9e2 and Cornish are talking about staging some of the performances, possibly in new versions, at 9e2 in October. Stay tuned.

Photo credit: Marty Oppenheimer


Electric Sky Art Weekend June 16-19, 2016

Check out the second Electric Sky, an art and tech weekend campathon June 16-19, 2016, bringing together artists, technologists, designers, hackers, makers, and friends to collaboratively engage with the environment in new and exciting ways. Electric Sky is a cross between an artists’ retreat and a hackathon, where you’ll spend several days in the woods, on the river, in our outdoor creativity lab, making stuff with people like you. You may arrive with well-developed ideas and half-finished projects, or you may arrive with no idea what you want to do but are game to jump in on a collaborative project.



Art in the Age of Machine Intelligence by Blaise Aguera y Arcas

Art has always existed in a complex, symbiotic and continually evolving relationship with the technological capabilities of a culture. Those capabilities constrain the art that is produced, and inform the way art is perceived and understood by its audience.

Like the invention of applied pigments, the printing press, photography, and computers, we believe machine intelligence is an innovation that will profoundly affect art. As with these earlier innovations, it will ultimately transform society in ways that are hard to imagine from today’s vantage point; in the nearer term, it will expand our understanding of both external reality and our perceptual and cognitive processes.


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Two Cultures A Classic Look at Science and Art

CP SnowStudents of the relationship between art, science, and technology go to one core document as the initial modern statement of the problems and possibilities inherent in that relationship. It’s a transcription of a lecture given in 1959 by British scientist and novelist C. P. Snow. Snow gave the Rede Lecture that year at Senate House, Cambridge, under the title “The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution.” Snow decried the cultural illiteracy of scientists and a general ignorance of science among the cultural elites.

For years afterward, the speech spawned a number of articles and commentaries on the question. One thing that has marked the time since then, and since 9 Evenings a few years later, is an outpouring of artists who are also versed in science and technology, and scientists who work in a broader cultural framework.

See what you think about it.


Tamiko Thiel Exhibit

Augmented reality in the International District View Work by Artists Tamiko and Midori Thiel

“Brush the Sky,” is “a calligraphic family narrative, written onto the Seattle skies.” The exhibit at Wing Luke Museum in Seattle closes on April 17, but will be featured at the Cherry Blossom Festival at Seattle Center, April 22 through 24. The project includes augmented reality by artist Tamiko Thiel, visible on smart phones, of family history sites around the International District and around Seattle. These views include Japanese calligraphy by master calligrapher Midori Kono Thiel, Tamiko’s mother, and will be on permanent exhibit around the city.

We’re looking to remount Tamiko and Midori’s work as part of 9e2. Stay tuned for updates on that.


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