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Interplay between arts, humanities, sciences, technology kicks off Nov. 7

Andrea Lynn, Humanities Editor
(217) 333-2177; a-lynn@illinois.edu

10/23/2002


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – An innovative initiative at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will officially kick off Nov. 7 (Thursday) with a panel discussion.

The panel discussion of the initiative, titled "Silicon, Carbon, Culture: Combining Codes Through the Arts, Humanities and Technology" (SCC), will begin at 7 p.m. in the auditorium (Room 62) of the Krannert Art Museum, 500 E. Peabody Drive, Champaign. A reception will take place afterward. The events are free and open to the public.

The panelists, all from the Illinois faculty, include Narendra Ahuja, electrical and computer engineering; Ann Bishop, Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS); Bruce Hannon, geography; and Joseph Squier, art and design. The moderator will be Jay Kesan, professor of law. Provost Richard Herman; Jesse Delia, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Kathleen Conlin, dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts, will offer opening remarks.

According to Christine Catanzarite, project director of SCC, the initiative is "a three-semester exploration of the interplay between the arts, humanities, sciences and technology fields at Illinois."

Sixteen projects involving more than 40 faculty members were awarded support in a campuswide competition. Funding supports courses, performances, exhibitions, speaker series, conferences, virtual reality projects and demonstrations.

Many of the projects will address the initiatives outlined by Nancy Cantor, the chancellor of the Urbana campus: globalization and the humanities, the arts in a technological world and the implications of virtual reality and nanotechnology.

Catanzarite said that "the technological excursions of recent decades have advanced societies in which silicon (symbolizing information systems) and carbon (symbolizing biological systems) – and the systems they generate – permeate our lives and weave webs of complexity that will profoundly challenge the way we live and how we see ourselves and relate to each other, locally and globally.

"New engineering capacities, political spaces, ethical dilemmas, forms of social existence and means of expressing and representing ourselves all indicate that the future will be quite unlike the past."

One of the winning projects plumbs futuristic realms, indeed.

Over the past several years, graduate student Peter Asaro, who is working on concurrent doctorates in philosophy and computer science at Illinois, interviewed and filmed academic "roboticists" all over the country for a feature documentary. Now completed, the documentary, titled "Love Machine," will premiere at 7 p.m. Nov. 5 (Tuesday) at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, 405 N. Mathews, Urbana. The event will be free and open to the public. A panel discussion will follow.

The 110-minute video, which features footage of many cutting-edge humanoid and industrial robots, considers "the social and moral implications of building humanoid robots sophisticated enough to participate in social and emotional roles that we traditionally considered exclusively or even essentially human: friendship, sex and love," Asaro said.

Several projects already have launched their activities. Faculty groups examining "Memory" and "Hybridity," for example, began meeting regularly at the start of the fall semester, and they will continue their activities during the span of the initiative. The exhibition "The Dream of the Audience: Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (1951-1982)" opened in September at the Krannert Art Museum on campus. It has included a public lecture by Whitney Museum curator Lawrence Rinder and a book discussion involving faculty and members of the community.

Recipients and their projects:

orange dot Ahuja; Noshir Contractor, speech communication; Michael Twidale, (GSLIS),
" 'Walking' Through Knowledge Networks," an interdisciplinary course.
orange dot Asaro, "Love Machine," screening and panel discussion with filmmakers.
orange dot Dennis Baron, English; William Brewer, psychology; Peter Fritzsche, history; Lillian Hoddeson, history; Stephen Levinson, engineering, "The Memory Project: An Interdisciplinary Study of Memory in the Construction of Identity and Culture," speaker series, seminar, reading group.
orange dot Bishop; Chip Bruce, GSLIS; Sharon Irish, architecture; Walter Robinson, atmospheric sciences; Lisa Merrifield, environmental council; Jerry Soesbe, Allerton Park, "Hands On, Plugged In: Living on the Prairie," interactive Web site, middle-school outreach program, exhibitions and performances, Chautauqua at Allerton Park.
orange dot Richard Burkhardt, history; Cynthia Radding, history; Paula Treichler, Institute of Communications Research (ICR), "Hybridity in Nature and Culture," speaker series, seminar, reading group.
orange dot Clifford Christians, ICR, "Virtual Reality and Ethics," international conference.
orange dot Donna Cox, National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA); Fernando Elichirigoity, GSLIS; John Martirano, NCSA; David Tcheng, NCSA; and John Wedge, history, "The Cultures of Silicon and Carbon in the Global Age: New Knowledges, Cyber-Globalization and a Reorientation of Perspectives," virtual projects and seminar.
orange dot Guy Garnett, music; Joy Monice Malnar, architecture, "Immersive Virtual Reality Environment Activities," virtual projects with traveling exhibition.
orange dot Garnett; Mike Ross, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts (KCPA); Stephen Taylor, music, "A Symposium on the Future of Performing Arts Technology," symposium with performances.
orange dot Josef Helfenstein and Karen Hewitt, Krannert Art Museum (KAM), "The Dream of the Audience," exhibition with related programming.
orange dot Evan Melhado, history and medical humanities and social sciences, "Biomedical Ethics in the Real World: Technology, Patient-Care and Public Policy," speaker series and seminar.
orange dot David O'Brien, art history; David Prochaska, history; Helfenstein, KAM, "East/West Traffic: Seven Transnational Artists," traveling exhibition with related conference.
orange dot Jay Rosenstein, journalism, "Documentary Film," panel discussion and film screenings.
orange dot Ross, KCPA, "Three Tales," a documentary multimedia opera by Steve Reich and Beryl Korot. Ticket and fee.
orange dot Lawrence Schehr, French, "20th Annual Twentieth-Century French Studies Colloquium," international conference. Registration fee.
orange dot Umesh Thakkar, NCSA/GSLIS, "Becoming VR-Savvy: Middle School Girls Learning and Building Virtual Worlds Together," teacher education and middle-school learning project.

The initiative is a joint venture of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of Fine and Applied Arts, with support from the Madden Initiative in Technology, Arts and Culture, and the Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

The Madden Initiative is a result of a gift by Dean E. and Marilynn A. Madden, alumni of the Urbana campus. The objectives of the initiative are to examine current technologies as well as those envisioned for the future; to assess their relevance and usefulness to teaching and research programs, especially in the humanities, arts and social sciences; and to study ways in which these technologies will have the most beneficial effects possible.

Faculty members in the initiative will demonstrate some of their work in progress at a showcase on the Urbana campus March 14-15, 2003. A series of talks, demonstrations and exhibitions/performances will be held in fall 2003, dates to be announced.
Catanzarite can be reached at (217) 244-7913 or catanzar@illinois.edu.