Innovators

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Legohacker circle of fireWhile the maker movement continues to gather publicity, one of its most critical dynamics seldom makes the headlines: the right to unmake. Now the College Art Association has published a call for presentations on unmaking and “Lego-like” creativity for its next annual conference in Los Angeles in February 2018.

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brown_ben_forestry_finderNew Media student projects are more than term papers to be chucked when the semester’s over. Many enjoy a renewed life after graduation, as demonstrated by recent TV and news articles on outdoor-oriented ventures from the 2015 capstone course taught by Still Water Co-Director Joline Blais. From drone classes for high school students to mobile apps to help forestry workers, these capstones have expanded outside of the classroom and into the nearby woods and skies overhead.

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Coho Energy Monitor 1Starting in June 2013, the home of Still Water Co-Directors Jon Ippolito and Joline Blais becomes an experiment in sustainable living through digital feedback. This net-zero-energy unit in the award-winning Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage now includes a smart grid whose energy generation and use patterns can be monitored in real-time on the Web.

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scalar-logoScalar is an online platform built by the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture (ANVC) centered at USC that facilitates the creation of media-rich scholarly publications. The software has only recently entered public beta, however versions have been operational since 2010 that have led to a number of works, many sponsored by scholarly organizations and academic presses. Last month’s public launch has garnered new attention to the platform, and this week PCMag marked Scalar as an Editors’ Choice along with a 4.5/5 star “excellent rating.”

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Innovators CoverStill Water is pleased to announce the publication of 60: Innovators Shaping Our Creative Future, a landmark book on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of renowned art and design publishing house Thames & Hudson. Still Water co-directors Joline Blais and Jon Ippolito penned the new media section of this book, which profiles five of the most innovative creators on the planet today.

These visionaries take the lessons learned from experiments in online communities and apply them to real-world problems, whether making cities sustainable, holding corporations accountable, or re-imagining laws that govern the flow of information. Included among these innovators are Maine’s own Miigam’agan and gkisedtanamoogk, Wabanaki elders who are building bridges between their ancestors’ lifeways and the 21st century.

“Every now and again along comes a book that acts as a cultural bookmark … Thames & Hudson’s new doorstopper Sixty is just such a book” — Grafik Magazine

“A collection of incredible, truly inspiring work from all over the world.” — The Design Files.

“Showcases the most creative minds in fashion, architecture, photography, green technology and science.” — New Scientist

“Fascinating insights into global projects that may predict future directions are presented here in an informative and visually appealing format.” — Library Journal

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Life art ImageA new University of Maine class in Life Art (NMD430/520) explores the boundaries of artistic collaboration by encouraging students to co-create with entire ecosystems of humans and other critters.

Life artists may :

  • Crowd-source their artmaking with 10,000 earthworms.
  • Get frogs to do their drawings for/with them.
  • Create sculpture ‘for the birds’ so they can survive destroyed migratory paths across continents.
  • Clone cruelty-free meat via the latest gene manipulation.
  • Get Michelle Obama to “perform” their art piece.
  • Plan an art opening with full course cross-species meals (eg for human and geese).

Student projects may draw from indigenous culture, digital culture, and/or permaculture, and will be featured in an exhibition at the end of the term. The course takes place at the Hutchinson Center in Belfast, Maine and is organized by Joline Blais in collaboration with Waterfall Arts and Unity College.

This New Media class is open to graduate students, qualified undergraduates, and members of the community. For more information, contact Joline Blais.

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From 24-26 September 2009, Espacio Enter brought artists, performers, technologists, and theorists to Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa. Organized by Montse Arbelo and Joseba Franco, directors and founders of ART TECH MEDIA, the conference explored possible scenarios for the future of creativity and new media over the next few decades, and gathered a diverse ensemble of presenters representing art, industry, and particle physics.

The cultural preconditions for sharing culture, energy, and emotion were a recurrent topic among presenters at Espacio Enter’s “Future Now” symposium, who hailed from Japan, Australia, and other Asian locales as well as Europe and the US. Eyebeam director Amanda McDonald-Crowley surveyed her institution’s many creative approaches to sustainability. Korean puppeteer Semi Ryu used a digital interface to inject reciprocality into the relationship between puppets and their “masters.” Transmediale curator Ela Kagel described her research on hybrid economies, and wondered aloud what a business run according to artistic principles might look like.

Drawing on themes from At the Edge of Art and the forthcoming book The Innovators, Joline Blais and Jon Ippolito presented “New Media Join the Rest of the World,” a look at creators who are taking the lessons learned in building online communities and re-applying them back in the real world. While Blais and Ippolito stressed the way networks can level the playing field compared to the hierarchies of broadcast media, Gunalan Nadarajan pointed out that the very inequalities of networks such as the electrical grid can become artistic fodder in the hands of artists such as Ashok Sukumaran, who invites street vendors in Bombay to share electricity with local apartment owners.

Blais in turn argued that the ethic of networks is one of connection rather than detachment, and that the simple act of listening to the natural world can be revolutionary in the face of the increasing mediation of technology and consumer culture. She demo’d the project Request For Ceremony, a set of community-created protocols for reconnecting with nature modeled on the famous Request for Comments (RFCs) that galvanized designers of the early Internet.

All in all, the discussion reinforced the importance of distinguishing between the technical and social definitions of shared networks.

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Charta (Milan) has just published a new book on Eva and Franco Mattes, the notorious prankster activists of http://0100101110101101.org. The anthology features texts by authors such as Maurizio Cattelan, Bruce Sterling, and Still Water directors Joline Blais and Jon Ippolito.

The chapter by Blais and Ippolito expands a discussion from At the Edge of Art on Darko Maver, the most successful artist that never was. The Mattes’ skillful manipulation of artworld curators and journalists led to Maver’s posthumous inclusion in the 48th Venice Biennale, despite the fact that he never existed.

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A landmark publication from renowned art-and-design publisher Thames & Hudson will examine the latest generation of innovators from art, architecture, design, and related fields. Joline Blais and Jon Ippolito have co-authored the new media section of the book.

Drawing on and extending themes from At the Edge of Art, Blais and Ippolito examine five artists and activists who bring strategies from the realm of electronic networks into action in the real world.

This highly produced volume is due to be published later this year, on the occasion of Thames & Hudson’s sixtieth anniversary.

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