From 1967 to 1971, the Art and Technology program at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) paired artists, such as James Turrell, Roy Lichtenstein, and Robert Irwin, with technology companies, such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Lockheed Aircraft Co. (now Lockheed Martin). The goal: to create work that pushed the boundaries of both art and technology. Nearly 50 years later, LACMA’s newly revived Art + Technology Lab is continuing to support experimental work, in part through its inaugural grant program.
Credit: Courtesy Taeyoon Choi and E Roon Kang
In Object of Desire, Taeyoon Choi and E Roon Kang demonstrated a wearable computer in a performance, 2006.
These grants provide up to $50,000 for artist fees and direct costs such as materials. Applicants can request support for up to one year, and they can receive support financially or with networking and mentoring opportunities by members of the LACMA advisory board, which includes the likes of Nvidia, Daqri, Accenture, and Google, as well as independent artists and academics.
Following its December 2013 call for proposals, LACMA heard from more than 450 artists, architects, designers, and developers pitching projects that ranged from rockets to sonification, and drones to sensors. LACMA curators, staff, and the Art + Technology advisory board members reviewed the proposals, looking for projects that address issues at the “intersection of culture and technology,” engage the public, produce data, and further the movement of art and technology, according to the museum’s blog post.
LACMA stated that it was “not looking for traditional grant proposals,” but rather for “projects that truly explore new frontiers in art and technology.” These are the final five that stood out.
Based in New York and Seoul, Taeyoon Choi and E Roon Kang will develop devices and method to let users set their own time in their aptly named In Search of Personalized Time. Choi is the cofounder of the School for Poetic Computation and director of the Making Lab in South Korea. Kang runs the design studio Math Practice and is a research fellow at the SENSEable City Laboratory at MIT.
The male-dominated cover of LACMA’s 1971 report on its art and technology program inspired Annina Rüst to conceive of A Piece of the Pie Chart, an interactive robotic gallery installation. A robot will transfer pie charts of data illustrating topics such as the gender gap in technical environments onto edible pies, combining both the delicious with the disturbing. Rüst, a professor of art, design, and transmedia at Syracuse University, showed the first iteration of the project target="_blank" in Switzerland at the Stadtgalerie Bern.
Annina Rüst’s food robot maps pie chart data onto pies in her Switzerland Edition of A Piece of the Pie Chart, Switzerland Edition, 2013.
Credit: Courtesy Annina Rüst
A founding member of the international artist collective Manifest.AR, John Craig Freeman will combine crowdsourcing and augmented reality with EEG technology in Things We Have Lost, which he began in Liverpool, England. Freeman will create a database of tangible and intangible lost items through data collected during man-on-the-street interviews in Los Angeles. At a future performance at LACMA, he will then have audience members imagine virtual objects into existence by associating brainwaves with objects selected randomly from the database.
In this visualization of EEG AR Things We Have Lost, John Craigman Freeman paired the tangible and intangible lost items with virtual objects, 2013.
Credit: John Craig Freeman
Credit: Tavares Strachan
In Blast Off #4 (2011–12), Tarvares Strachan launched a series of rockets made of locally produced glass and powered by locally harvested sugarcane fuel at the Bahamas Aerospace and Sea Exploration Center.
New York–based, Bahamas-born multimedia artist Tarvares Strachan will experiment with glass rockets powered by locally sourced, alternative fuels in Lift Off. His past work has explored the themes of invisibility, displacement, and the ability of people and matter to withstand inhospitable environments. He will recruit students from local schools in this project.
Photographer and writer Rachel Sussman will examine astrophysical and astronomical data to parse the capacity and limits of human perception in relation to deep space and deep time in The Poetics of Space. Her project was facilitated by exposure to Art + Technology Lab advisers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and SpaceX.
In The Oldest Living Things in the World (University of Chicago Press, 2014), Rachel Sussman scoured the world for living organisms that were more than 2,000 years old. She found these stromatolites in Carbla Station, Australia.
Credit: Courtesy Rachel Sussman
LACMA’s next call for proposals for funding through its Art + Technology Lab will be issued this December.