Archive for the ‘Press’ Category

Futurology: Art World Embraces the Internet

November 14, 2014
U.S. News and World Report
link to original article

Futurology: Art World Embraces the Internet
By Lindsey Cook

The increasing real-time connections available through the Internet meant musicians in Athens, Georgia could collaborate with musicians in Java, Indonesia, for a project by Kai Riedl, a musician himself and the founder of the SLINGSHOT Festival.

“Something the Internet has done is really foster translocal creativity between two places,” he says. “We are able to work with dozens of people we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise because we are able to collaborate online with tracks. People are able to work in their own pockets of time and not be a slave to real-time or time zones or geographic constraints, and I think that has just transformed everything.”

Unlike television or phones, the Internet allows for collaboration visually and sonically, that can happen in real-time or can be left and picked up later, which is particularly important for artists attempting to collaborate across time zones.

“It’s starting to challenge what the notion of art is,” Riedl says. “People are able to brush up against such a variety of music, art, technology, whatever it may be, that their personal library of what is possible is being completely expanded. With that comes an explosion of work and an explosion of quality.”

With the explosion of art, some have become overloaded and look for experiences that are more singular than scrolling through Instagram, watching the never ending YouTube or streaming Spotify radio. Too many stimuli may be one reason people are turning back to vinyl, which is experiencing a resurgence of popularity.

Whatever new technologies are coming that we can’t predict, it’s safe to say artists will be on the forefront. By 2025, the spread of gigabit Internet connections will bring authentic collaboration between artists and wannabe artists. Like health and education, art will benefit from video experiences that allow real-time, buffer-free interactions that feel as if participants are in the same room.

“There’s been this vision of the Internet for the past 10 years where a drummer in France can play at the same time as someone in Athens, Georgia, and they could be working together in real-time,” Riedl says. “When those speeds increase and you’re able to do that … It’s already expanded what a band is, but once you are able to collaborate in high quality sound in real-time, I think you’ll see another level of musical expression. And it’s getting close.”

Kai Riedl was an ICE Graduate Research Assistant.

Hanna Lisa Stefansson: Amazing Student

November 9, 2014
UGA Amazing Students Web feature


Hanna Lisa Stefansson, who is working on her doctorate in music composition, is a student member of UGA’s Arts Council and hopes to improve collaboration among all of the arts entities on campus.

Expected graduation: Fall 2016

Degree objective: D.M.A. in music composition, minor in musicology

University highlights, achievements and awards:
I had the privilege of being a graduate research assistant for Ideas for Creative Exploration, known as ICE, from August 2012 to May 2014. ICE facilitates interdisciplinary creative projects and acts as a network hub to encourage collaborations between faculty, students and community members from all disciplines. This assistantship really opened my eyes to the true meaning of collaboration, and I carry this way of thinking into my current research.

As a result of this assistantship, I was nominated to be a student representative on the UGA Arts Council. The meetings in the Peabody Board Room involve the vice provost, the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, and directors of the music, visual arts, dance, theater and creative writing schools and departments. It is truly an honor to be able to sit at the table with these leaders of the arts programs. Our goal is to bring awareness to the arts at UGA, beginning with the Spotlight on the Arts festival this month. By bringing all of the arts schools together, I hope that communication can be improved and more collaborative efforts between the arts will result.

One of my efforts in collaboration is with the revival of the SCREAM group – Student Composers for the Research of Electronic and Electro-Acoustic Music – in the music school. We are putting on an electro-acoustic concert Nov. 12 in Dancz Hall in the Hugh Hodgson School of Music, and it is my intention that we have a concert each semester.

Hometown: Macon

High School: Stratford Academy

Current Employment: Graduate teaching assistant (“Music Theory for Non-Majors”) in the Hugh Hodgson School of Music

Family Ties to UGA:
My uncle, Thorsteinn Karlsson, got his master’s degree in food engineering in Iceland, followed by a Ph.D. in paracytology at UGA in 1978. I love to talk about Athens and UGA with my aunt and uncle when I see them in Iceland and update them on what’s new in town and what has stayed the same since they lived here.

I chose to attend UGA because… I knew I could learn from the music composition faculty, and the artistic town of Athens only helped me make my decision.

My favorite things to do on campus are… getting coffee at the Georgia Museum of Art and having surprise run-ins with people in line. I’ve had some great serendipitous meetings with people that turned into conversations about new ideas, or just letting loose and catching up.

When I have free time, I like… to cook and bake, get out into nature, spend time with friends, listen to music, dance and relax.

The craziest thing I’ve done is… probably not something you want to know about me!

My favorite place to study is… at my kitchen table with the candles lit or in the Lamar Dodd School of Art study lounge.

My favorite professor is… Leonard V. Ball, aka Chic Ball. I loved taking his “Electronic Music” class on analog techniques. As my electronic music composition professor, he has opened my ears and helped me to achieve my musical vision in my electronic music.

Mark Callahan, the artistic director of Ideas for Creative Exploration, has been a great mentor in helping me clarify my thoughts on my research, as well as helping me to connect with the people who can help me with my projects. My new way of thinking about collaboration is very much owed to him.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with… David Bowie!

If I knew I could not fail, I would… bring back a culture that is more connected to the arts and nature. It is said that you can judge a culture on its art, and by how it treats animals and the environment. The status of our current culture does not bode well when music and the arts are disappearing from our schools, and reputable symphony orchestras continue to crumble under mismanagement and greed. Nature also suffers at our hands, but we aren’t really changing our behavior for the better. We need to wake up and find another way.

After graduation, I plan to… continue my hunt for collaborative work with artists and non-artists alike. My big goal is to compose music for film, dance, theater and other multimedia works. I also would love to teach music theory and composition at a college or university.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be… when I found out I was accepted to UGA, and then getting the call from Mark Callahan, the director of Ideas for Creative Exploration, that I had received the ICE assistantship. It was a really great day—I remember being excited for the future and thinking about all of the possibilities.

Celebrating Campus Leaders during National Entrepreneurship Month


November 7, 2014
US Office of Science and Technology Policy
link to original article

Celebrating Campus Leaders during National Entrepreneurship Month
By Doug Rand

Greg Wilson, University of Georgia

“This past year, my goal has been to increase the entrepreneurship and innovation culture on campus by breaking down silos and bringing students from all backgrounds together. My most successful venture thus far has been the development of a design challenge event. “Thinc-a-thon,” inspired by famous design firm IDEO, brings together students from all disciplines (including engineering, computer science, art, design, and business) for the purpose of creating a new project or business. Our next event, “Design + Food,” will be the first to make use of the Science Library makerspace that I helped develop with the Vice President for Research and the Director of University Libraries. I also assisted in developing a Student Council for Economic Engagement to raise awareness to entrepreneurship initiatives on campus.”

Thinc-a-Thon was supported by an ICE Project Grant.

Robot Dramas


September 2, 2014
The Huffington Post
link to original article

Robot Dramas: Autonomous Machines in the Limelight on Stage and in Society
By Aaron Dubrow

David Saltz, head of theatre and film studies at the University of Georgia, premiered a different kind of robot performance in 2012.

“Commedia Robotica” starred a foot-tall robot named Zeeb Zob, who had been “trained” to perform Commedia dell’arte, a highly stylized form of classical Italian theater.

“Our goal was to teach the robot to be a good actor,” Saltz said of the experimental play.

Commedia dell’arte consists of a set of highly defined characters who, by convention, use precise pre-determined gestures and postures to communicate. Saltz was able to program Zeeb Zob to strike these poses and to move onstage in realistic, human-like ways.

The production included a range of techniques for moving the robot, including a ‘roboteer’ who performed live actions in real-time that were communicated to Zeeb Zob, and pre-recorded and programmed gestures.

In “Commedia Robotica”, Zeeb Zob rehearses with an initially reluctant actress for a play-within-a-play: a commedia dell’arte performance. Over time, Zeeb Zob develops romantic feelings for his co-star. When he expresses these feelings, a human engineer waiting in the wings rips out his electronic guts, at which point the actress realizes she’d fallen for the robot, too.

“At what point does a robot, a human-crafted machine, develop its own agency and become a performer? And who’s performing?” Saltz pondered.

The vast majority of robots that have been used in performances, including Saltz’s, have been puppets or automata. But the new generation of robots that Saltz and others are working on will have the capacity to perform autonomously and to learn from their interactions.

“Acting is reacting,” Saltz said. “For me, the holy grail is to create robots that respond dynamically to their environment.”

Kai Riedl: Amazing Student

June 8, 2014
UGA Amazing Students Web feature


Ph.D. student Kai Riedl has blurred the line between his academic work and creative endeavors to create an annual festival in Athens and wants to continue that work with collaborative music projects around the globe.

Expected graduation: Spring 2016 or 2017

Degree objective: Ph.D. in ethnomusicology

University highlights, achievements and awards:
-Awarded a graduate assistantship with Ideas for Creative Exploration, known as ICE, at UGA.

-Received the Janelle Padgett Knight Graduate Research Award from the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts.

-2014 TedxUGA presenter.

-Recipient of grant from President’s Venture Fund to create a UGA/educational component of the SLINGSHOT festival.

-Recipient of a project grant from ICE for the project “Our New Silence,” a collaborative project connecting musicians in Java, Indonesia, with those in Athens and at UGA.

-Created and taught several classes at UGA including “Music in Religious Culture” and “Music in Athens.”

-Worked with multiple departments across campus to create SLINGSHOT, a yearly event that connects UGA with local, national and international creative people and technologists. The departments include the Lamar Dodd School of Art, the College of Engineering, the Willson Center, ICE, Theatre and Film Studies, and the Georgia Museum of Art. Every year in March, SLINGSHOT is spread over four city blocks and dozens of venues and it spotlights international, national and local acts on stage, boundary-pushing artworks throughout the urban environment, and tech talks with leading innovators.

-Directed several musical performances at Hugh Hodgson Concert Hall bringing town and university musicians together to reinterpret the music of Java.

Hometown: Atlanta

High School: St. Pius/Crestwood

Current Employment: I’m the instructor for the new course called “Music in Athens,” and I am the director of SLINGSHOT – a music, electronic art and technology festival in Athens. I also make a dollar or two every now and then with my band Electrophoria.

I chose to attend UGA because… of the balance between the university and the rich musical environment in town.

My favorite things to do on campus are… Still, after all these years, walking on North Campus is hard to beat. The trees are fantastic, the squirrels, friendly. The small expressions of wildlife on campus always make my day. I recently saw a hawk swoop down and have a squirrel lunch, just feet from where I was walking.

When I have free time, I like… to create abstract pop songs with loops of Indonesian music that I’ve recorded over the years in Java. I’m usually collaborating on one of a few music projects during the year.

My favorite place to study is… I’m super sound sensitive, so I have to find quiet spaces where it is just the books and me. Windows also, unfortunately, just end up being a distraction–the world is just too interesting. The small graduate student study rooms throughout the main library fit the requirements of quiet and stillness that my brain needs, and they enable me to strike a nice balance between reading and meditation.

My favorite professor is… Glenn Wallis, who taught Buddhism in the religion department in the mid-2000s. His insights, direct teaching methods and wonderful balance of compassion and critical thinking were unmatched on campus for years.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with… There is a long list of people from different walks of life that having an afternoon with would be wonderful – musicians, naturalists, philosophers, great leaders, etc. Though I wouldn’t mind spending the afternoon with the Buddha. There is so much religiosity, cosmology, scholarship and rhetoric about the man that it would be fun to hang out and tell some really silly jokes with him. I’m sure he has a good sense of humor. Yes, laughing with the Buddha, that would be a fun afternoon.

If I knew I could not fail, I would… Let’s be honest, this is a pretty fantastical question. Without failure we would be adrift at almost any task. But, since “I could not fail,” I would swim with orcas for a month and take in marine life.

After graduation, I plan to… Still a ways off, but I want to work within an interdisciplinary dimension of a university or with a creative company doing what I consider to be great things. I also want to continue collaborative music projects around the globe.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be… The previously mentioned Glenn Wallis walked into the first day of a class titled “The Buddhist Tradition” and he didn’t say a word for 30 minutes. I thought to myself, finally, somebody who knows what they’re talking about. I used the same method for years when I would go on to teach that same class, but nobody held silence like Glenn.

“Seen/Unseen” taps art, history to tell tales of bygone Athens


November 6, 2013
Athens Banner-Herald
link to original article

“Seen/Unseen” taps art, history to tell tales of bygone Athens
By Andre Gallant

For most, a definition of art can follow Potter Stewart’s famous criteria: “I know it when I see it.” But what of history? We easily define it as pages bound and filed away on shelves; as TV shows vocalized by heavily degreed talking heads.

When the two become purposefully linked – art and history combined – what matters more is not what we see, but what we get out of the marriage: We may extract a better understanding of our present than if each discipline were practiced alone.

At its core, “Seen/Unseen,” an exhibit of public history and local past, is an amalgam of visual storytelling and research into sepia-tone realms. At its core, its a collaboration of art (ATHICA, co-curator Hope Hilton) and history (Georgia Virtual History Project) institutions. But we shouldn’t see the two forms as distinct, said co-curator Christopher Lawton, a professor of history at the University of Georgia and co-funder of GVHP.

“History is a lot of art,” he said. “It’s not just dry dusty facts. … Once you get to the part that’s interactive … then you’ve blurred the lines between those two disciplines.”

Both disciplines, following Lawton’s thinking, are essentially visual storytellers, especially when history is made into a watchable form.

With the GVHP, Lawton and co-founder Mark Evans have sought to make Georgia’s history mobile and, yes, interactive, making the user, for all intents, the director of their own history documentary. A quick example: stand in front of the arch, use the GVHP app (still in beta) and find pictures, documents and maps at your fingertips, all telling the story of how that iron icon came to be.

But “Seen/Unseen” focuses on the less obvious history around us, specifically of Athens. At the Saturday reception, as part of the numerous events associated with UGA’s Spotlight on the Arts Festival, Lawton and company with debut three new video projects illuminating little known corners of local history. Others involved in the show follow their own outline. Katie Gregg has followed a quirky downtown historian known for selling his handwritten tomes of the street corner. Cynthia Lollis revives an almost 15-year-old project highlighting some of Athens laboring lives in the late 1990s. Photographer Wayne Bellamy captures civil war trenches as modern topography.

Taken together, the goal of this work of art and history is rather straighforward: making us stop, reflect and take stock of the swirling lives around us and which came before us.

“The very premise of this show is that (Athens) has this story to tell,” Lawton said. “It had a 150-year-old story, a 50-year-old story and a present one.”

“Seen/Unseen” presents a very now version of what will be available to use in the future through the GVHP: tiny documentaries, almost tailored to exactly the spot we are standing in; stories that lift the blinders on the history being made around us and, as Lawton said, recognize the DNA of lives past in the soil beneath our feet.