Friday, November 04, 2011

Announcing BAASICS

I'm very excited to announce that artist-curator Selene Foster and I have received a Southern Exposure Alternative Exposure Grant award for our Bay Area Art & Science Interdisciplinary Collaborative Sessions (BAASICS) proposal! BAASICS is a series of San Francisco-based evening programs that bring together local visual artists, choreographers, composers, scientists, and interdisciplinary thinkers to present engaging, multi-media lectures and performances that consider a given theme. The programs are free and open to the public.

In conjunction with A Live Animal, a group exhibition that Selene and I co-curated at Root Division in July 2011, we assembled 4 visual artists, 3 scientists, and 1 choreographer in San Francisco's ODC Theater to further explore the exhibition's theme in a program of TED Talk-like lectures and performances. The evening was a terrific success, drawing a capacity crowd and generating excited conversation during the reception that followed. Many of the attendees enthusiastically requested more such events.

With BAASICS, Selene and I hope to foment creative exchange and even long-term, mutually beneficial relationships between artists and scientists. Despite much talk of commonality between the disciplines, there is little substantive dialogue. Laudably, there are an increasing number of efforts to cultivate interdisciplinary, art-science projects; unfortunately, the lion's share of these result in vaguely "sciency" artworks or analyses of aesthetics rooted in cognitive neuroscience or sociobiology.

BAASICS isn't goal or project oriented; after all, there are many important differences between art and science, but one undeniable likeness is that the best discoveries are often stumbled upon, not planned for. We hope that BAASICS will provide a forum for artists and scientists to come together to share the ideas and practices that animate their lives and work. A principal aspiration of BAASICS is that we will learn from and be inspired by one another.

Even more important than facilitating relationships and the sharing of ideas, however, is the possibility of engaging a general audience. In the United States, the contemporary fine arts and sciences are generally set apart from popular discourse. Because BAASICS programs are free and open to the public, we hope to make the fine and performing arts and sciences less esoteric, inspiring guests to think about how art and science relate to one another and to society at large.

FYI: The theme of the second BAASIC event -- albeit the first associated with the name -- will be technology and notions of "the future." The roster of presenters hasn't been determined (it will take place in May or early June 2012), but speakers and performers might ponder, for example, robotics, artificial intelligence, medical advances and human nature, how our globalizing culture will shape technology, or dystopian versus utopian prospects. If HH readers know of Bay Area visual artists, composers, choreographers, scientists, or general smarty-pants who are engaging technology in some way and might be interested in participating, please put them in touch with me. Selene and I want to review as large a pool of applicants as possible.

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