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Complexity of the biotechnological environment we are part of is difficult to comprehend. Understanding art as an endless exercise in perception can help us not only to understand but also to feel, experience and collaborate in the entangled networks that sustain us.
The artistic practice of Sasa Spacal researches how signals such as the sound of symbiosis, the vibrations of mushrooms, the smell of antibiotics and microbiologically enriched air help us to map out our position in networks and to become aware of the multiplicity of feedback loops through which interspecies communication is enacted. Once we step down from the anthropocentric throne, non-human actors such as bacteria, fungi, and plants can teach us about diverse ways of connecting, not as our opposite, but as part of us and as collaborators in biogeochemical processes. Dualisms such as natural and artificial, virtual and material, technological and ecological intertwine into opaque biotechnological multiplicities of planetary dimensions, which humanity is trying to understand by developing models that are more or less useful. Perhaps in times of anthropogenic crisis, it would be wise to ask how empathic practices of caring collaboration can be developed through the models, theories, cartographies and stories we create.
Saša Spačal is a postmedia artist working at the intersection of living systems research, contemporary and sound art. Her artistic research focuses on entanglements of environment-culture continuum and planetary metabolism. By developing technological interfaces and relations with organic and mineral soil agents, she tries to address the posthuman condition that involves mechanical, digital and organic logic within biopolitics and necropolitics of our times.
Her work was exhibited and performed at venues and festivals, such as Ars Electronica Festival (AT), Prix Cube Exhibition (FR), Transmediale Festival (DE), Athens Digital Arts Festival (GR), Perm Museum of Contemporary Art (RUS), Onassis Cultural Center Athens (GR), Chronos Art Center (CHN), Cynetart Festival (DE), National Art Museum of China (CHN), Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova (SI), Kapelica Gallery (SI), Device_art (CRO), Art Laboratory Berlin (DE), Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana (SI), Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina (SRB), Mediamatic (NL) and Lisboa Soa Festival (PT). For her work she received Prix Ars Electronica honorary mention, Japan Media Art Award jury selection, Prix Cube nomination, New Technology Art Award nomination and was longlisted for New Aesthetica Prize.
For more information about the MAT Seminar Series, go to:
Morphologies of Sonically Actuated Spatial Agents
This dissertation explores the ways in which media artworks depict agency and convey life-like qualities. This exploration is centered around the design and implementation of two interactive media artworks, HIVE (2016-2018) and Cacophonic Choir (2019-current), and makes use of a novel conceptual framework grounded in an approach to media arts practice that uses the notion of agency as a lens for examining and creating artworks. Starting with an inquiry into novel agent-based art practices that neither feature robotic nor virtual agents, the dissertation reevaluates the notion of agency in artistic contexts in light of the relatively recent establishment of sonic interaction design as a field in its own right and the renewed emphasis on materiality as the result of rapidly evolving digital design and fabrication technologies. To this end, I introduce Sonically Actuated Morphological Agent practice as an area of artistic practice that fuses digitally designed and fabricated artifacts, sonic expressions, and interactive behaviors in order to create ‘perceived’ life-like systems. In summary, this dissertation aims to expand upon the theoretical and conceptual underpinnings of interactive media arts via the products of my artistic practice, as well as theoretical discussions, design methods, principles, and strategies, all of which are distilled from this practice.
At this year's event, presentations were given by MAT professor JoAnn Kuchera-Morin, Director of the Allosphere Research Group at the University of California Santa Barbara, and MAT alumna Yoon Chung Han, an assistant professor in the Department of Design at San Jose State University.
Professor Kuchera-Morin's presentation was titled "Composing and Performing Complex Systems: From the Quantum to the Cosmological".
Professor Chung Han's presentation was titled "The Roads on Your Veins: Revealing Hidden Narratives in Human Veins and Visualizing Veins and Map Data Using Technology".
The 109th College Art Association's annual conference was held from February 10-13, 2021.
The event can be viewed here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PJ0UNUGiYo
"Uncertain Facing" is a data-driven, interactive audiovisual installation that aims to represent the uncertainty of data points of which their positions in 3D space are estimated by machine learning techniques. It also tries to raise concerns about the possibility of the unintended use of machine learning with synthetic/fake data.
Photo: Jade Martinez-Pogue / Noozhawk
Located in La Cumbre Plaza at 120 South Hope Ave Suite F119, the museum creates a hands-free interactive experience that explores the next generation of media arts. The art pieces are primarily by local artists, including one by MAT students Xindi Kang and Rodney Duplessis titled "Oscilla", in which a person speaks into a microphone, and watches the frequencies of his or her voice displayed in multi-color on a large screen.
Read more about MSME in this Santa Barbara Noozhawk article.
EmissionControl2 is a granular sound synthesizer. The theory of granular synthesis is described in the book Microsound (Curtis Roads, 2001, MIT Press).
Released in October 2020, the new app was developed by a team consisting of Professor Curtis Roads acting as project manager, with software developers Jack Kilgore and Rodney Duplessis. Kilgore is a computer science major at UCSB. Duplessis is a PhD student in music composition at UCSB and is also pursuing an MS degree in Media Arts and Technology.
EmissionControl2 is free and open-source software available at: github.com/jackkilgore/EmissionControl2/releases/latest
The project was supported by a Faculty Research Grant from the UCSB Academic Senate.
Media Arts and Technology (MAT) at UCSB is a transdisciplinary graduate program that fuses emergent media, computer science, engineering, electronic music and digital art research, practice, production, and theory. Created by faculty in both the College of Engineering and the College of Letters and Science, MAT offers an unparalleled opportunity for working at the frontiers of art, science, and technology, where new art forms are born and new expressive media are invented.
In MAT, we seek to define and to create the future of media art and media technology. Our research explores the limits of what is possible in technologically sophisticated art and media, both from an artistic and an engineering viewpoint. Combining art, science, engineering, and theory, MAT graduate studies provide students with a combination of critical and technical tools that prepare them for leadership roles in artistic, engineering, production/direction, educational, and research contexts.
The program offers Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees in Media Arts and Technology. MAT students may focus on an area of emphasis (multimedia engineering, electronic music and sound design, or visual and spatial arts), but all students should strive to transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries and work with other students and faculty in collaborative, multidisciplinary research projects and courses.