ARTech: Fusing Art and Technology at Georgia Tech

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Rachael Pocklington
Communications Officer, Parents Program

When one thinks of Georgia Tech, “cutting-edge performing arts” probably doesn’t rank top of mind for most of us. But thanks to an innovative art residency program at Georgia Tech, ARTech (Artists in Residence at Tech), students are gaining an appreciation for how art and technology intersect to impact the creative process and ultimately affect our daily lives.

“It’s a natural fit for Georgia Tech,” states George Thompson, director of the Ferst Center for the Arts and a guiding force behind ARTech. “A research institute of this magnitude has a lot to offer artists who are interested in exploring how technology and science can further the performance arts. Conversely, this program also has a lot to offer Georgia Tech.”

The ARTech program has three fundamental requirements. One, the artist must explore how art intersects with technology and science. Two, the program must demonstrate collaboration among Tech’s faculty, staff, and students with the resident artist. Third, the performance must be shared with the audience - to interact with the patrons and give them something more than what they can experience at a more traditional performance. This is what gives ARTech its undeniable point of differentiation.

The program which began in fall 2010 currently features Jonah Bokaer, a New York-based choreographer and media artist. While on campus, Jonah is leveraging Georgia Tech’s technical facilities and know-how expertise. For instance, he is using the motion capture labs in the School of Interactive Computing and working in collaboration with the College of Architecture as well as the Music Technology program in the School of Music to develop interactive components for the upcoming performance “Filter” which premieres at the Ferst Center on April 2. With the help of Jason Freeman, assistant professor in the School of Music, and graduate student Stephen Garrett, a mobile app for iPhones and iPads is being developed which will engage audience members and even enable them to control certain aspects of the stage lighting. “It is very exciting to see this kind of interest and collaboration among all the parties involved - from the artist, to the faculty, to the students. They are producing an interactive performance that due to the sophisticated technologies involved could only really happen at Georgia Tech,” states Thompson.

While this is the inaugural year for ARTech, Thompson is already looking to the future. “This first year of ARTech has proven to be very encouraging to us at Tech. Our goal for 2010-2011 was to reach out and find those connections on campus. We have made great progress - the response both internally and with the greater Atlanta community has been overwhelming. In the future, we will be looking for resident artists who can offer a different type of audience interaction by mixing art with science and technology. The ways in which we all interact with each other are changing daily. The performing arts are changing too - it is not just song and dance anymore.”

For more information on ARTech and the upcoming performance of “Filter” by Jonah Bokaer, please visit the Ferst Center for the Arts website


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    Rachael Pocklington
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