The technical side of art

By By Jane Stringham

By Jane Stringham

Contrary to what some students would think, many of the U’s dance majors are closet computer geeks and many of its engineering experts hide a secret penchant for pirouetting.

“It’s really important to be able to combine the arts and sciences,” said Claire Ratcliffe, a freshman in modern dance. “The most well-rounded people in my department are able to enhance their performances with their knowledge of subjects like science, math and politics.”

The gap between these disciplines at the U is diminishing in some part due to the creation of the Center for Interdisciplinary Arts and Technology, specifically to reunite the arts and sciences.

The center, located in the new media wing of the Arts and Architecture Building, was partially created in 2005 when members of the arts technology committee at the U first expressed an interest in the intersection of technology and arts. Raymond-Tymas Jones, dean of the College of Fine Arts, counseled the group to spend a year researching centers and projects throughout the country that resembled their vision before instating something similar at the U.

Following a year of research, the committee drew up a well-informed proposal for the center and submitted it last October. The proposal was approved and Ellen Bromberg was appointed chair of arts technology.

Bromberg, previously a member and four-year chair of the arts technology committee, said she hopes the center will “create opportunities for researchers to engage in novel research and to start engaging in dialogues with other entities on campus.”

This collaboration is not limited to departments at the U, though. “We’re interested in community outreach,” Bromberg said.

Ex-officio members of the center’s advisory board currently include Mary Tull, development manager for The Leonardo Foundation for Art, Culture and Science, and Jim Glenn, director of public art at the Utah Arts Council.

Tull and Glenn, along with the wide variety of faculty members on the board, are primarily concerned with raising funds for the center. Once money is raised, research opportunities and more chances for events like Media Experiments in Technology and the Arts will be attainable.

The presentation of META is a launching party for faculty and students who are involved with the center. The event will feature performances by student artists and hopefully validate Bromberg’s idea that “everyone understands that creative thinking takes many forms, and technology is simply a meeting ground for it.”