Aiming to highlight its unique position at the intersection of arts, engineering and science — and to reflect its mission to enable the creation of hybrid work that informs both scientific and aesthetics discourses — UC Santa Barbara’s Media Arts and Technology (MAT) graduate program will hold a public, year-end exhibition.
“Open Sources” will showcase work from MAT graduate students that connects emergent media, computer science, engineering, architecture, electronic music and digital arts research. Featuring installations, performances and concerts by more than 20 artists from the MAT community, the diverse selection of work spans themes such as human-robot interaction, generative sound and visual art, experimental music, computer vision, virtual and augmented reality and other so-called transdisciplinary subjects.
It’s all part and parcel of the ethos of MAT, where students come from diverse backgrounds in everything from computer science and electrical engineering to media art, architecture and music, and have experiences and interests in the technical and aesthetic aspects of scholarship and creative work alike.
“The ‘Open Sources’ exhibition and accompanying book represent the best of what MAT has to offer and a glimpse into where our program is heading,” said program chair George Legrady, a professor of interactive media in both MAT and in UCSB’s art department. “Since its inception in 1999, MAT’s students and faculty have pushed the envelope of multi-, inter-, and transdisciplinary work in digital media. There is a shared passion for thinking and working out of the box, beyond the traditional disciplinary boundaries, to create new media, new ideas and new disciplines. All of that is reflected in this end-of-year-show.”
In a unique curatorial twist, Open Sources will also include source code from the works being shown as a commented, critical edition, providing a window into the inner workings of each project.
The approach is meant to disrupt the convention of only displaying the surface-level aesthetic of a work, Legrady said, noting that in the early days of media art, knowledge of programming languages was scant, limited to a small domain of trained engineers who turned to the arts, with only the most intrepid of artists venturing to learn computer code. Today, programming is an essential skill not only for many artists, but also for scientists, designers and educators.
By showcasing source code, Open Sources intends to celebrate widespread code literacy while exposing the structural fabric of a piece as an additional critical dimension.
The exhibition kicks off on Friday, May 29, from 5-10 p.m., at the California NanoSystems Institute, inside Elings Hall on the UCSB campus. A pre-opening event at 5 p.m. Thursday, May 28, will feature a lecture by Edward Zajec, a professor emeritus of computer art from Syracuse University. He will deliver the talk “Spectral Modulator — The Problem of Articulating Duration with Light.”
A catalog documenting both the show and MAT’s research at the cutting edge of art and technology will be available at the opening. More information about the event can be found at http://show.mat.ucsb.edu/.