Archive for the ‘Press’ Category

Kit Hughes in Inc.


November 4, 2015
link to full article

link to Kit’s ICE project

How This Entrepreneur’s Fast-Growing Business Started as an Art Project

During art school, I worked on a project where I bought every product advertised in 24 hours of network television. I learned volumes: among other things, most advertising and marketing is simply a bunch of levers and knobs that are pulled and turned to make emotional connections. I wanted to show the power in manipulating those emotional connections. It was kind of like playing with people in a gallery, trying to come up with ways to get them to engage with each other and make them happy. That was the spark for Look-Listen.

Puppety SLAMateur hour brings the medium back


April 30, 2015
Athens Banner Herald
link to original article

Puppety SLAMateur hour brings the medium back
By Kai Riedl

Despite a technologically engulfed world dead-set on consuming the latest frontiers, around every turn is a resurgence in earlier classics.

Depeche Mode blasts over speakers around town, women’s fashion draws every era before 1990 and handlebar mustaches are back. This collective gesture toward earlier forms isn’t lost on one Athenian group — the puppeteers.

Today the Athens Puppetry Group (yes, there is one of those) hosts the Puppetry SLAMateur hour. This rare event offers a wide variety of short performances (less than 30 minutes each) covering a range of subject matters specifically directed at adult audiences. This is not for the kiddies, as themes harken back to earlier times when puppeteers had few boundaries.

But unlike their historical counterparts, the SLAM also offers the chance to experience new technological twists on the medium, such as digital projections and robotic puppets.

The main fuel behind the SLAM is local artist Emily Silva who took a moment to shed light on how puppetry fits into 2015 and what can be expected at Thursday’s performance.

Volume: I love the idea of this whole endeavor, but why puppets and why now?

Emily Silva: I think it’s a partially generational trend. There’s a lot of nostalgia for puppet television and movies we watched as kids and, for me at least, there’s also a backlash against the ever-slicker CGI and visual effects that movie budgets are now poured into. Add to that the relative scarcity of any kind of live theatre in most people’s day to day, and it makes sense that puppets are getting more attention. They are tactile, often handmade and imperfect, and they’re kind of right in your face. People get confused and a little nervous, and very excited when someone approaches them talking through a bug-eyed creature apparently made of old socks. That kind of interaction has a lot of possibilities not just for entertainment, but for education, and social activism.

V: So, our technologically based world has circled back to puppets. For many, I’m sure this is refreshing and I’m curious if there is a tech element to the performance.

ES: We do have some techno-magic planned for the show, specifically in the form of a interactive digital puppet projection named Demetrio created by Caity Johnson. What falls under the definition of puppetry is constantly changing. It will always include the traditional felt and foam standards, but robotic puppetry and interactive programming are just as entitled to their place in that definition. For kids like me who grew up on a steady diet of Dark Crystal and Jurassic park animatronics, there is no question that puppets, robots and computers can and should live in harmony.

V: The description of the performance eludes to adult themes in the SLAM. What are we looking at here, and what kind of themes are we in store for?

ES: One of the interesting things about working in puppetry is challenging the assumption that it is a entertainment medium intended only for kids. On the contrary, lewd humor, sexuality, horror, etc have always been a part of puppetry and continue to be some of it’s most fascinating subjects. We’ll be featuring some puppet-burlesque fusion, a raunchy witch, a new take of Shelly’s Frankenstein, and some sort of dramatic birthing process. Hence, the parental advisory.

V: When you say SLAM, does this imply that Thursday’s performance includes a competition of sorts?

ES: Not exactly, although in many cities where they have monthly puppetry slams, there will be a prize for the audience’s favorite. Having events that regularly would be a great goal for the group moving forward. In this case, though, we use slam just to specify the format of the show. That is to say that it’s made up of multiple short pieces by different artists rather than one longer cohesive narrative, which is what many people expect when they hear simply “Puppet Show.” Also it sounds way more badass.

V: This project has a relationship with Ideas for Creative Exploration at UGA. How did the project get involved with ICE?

ES: This project grew out an event I helped put together in the summer of 2014 and morphed into an identity design project for my senior thesis exhibit. Everyone in the ICE office was extremely enthusiastic when I approached them about the project, and encouraged me to apply for their IdeaLab mini grant, which funds interdisciplinary arts/research projects up to $500 to produce an event, publication or other creative undertaking. It’s been an excellent partnership so far, both in terms of having the funding to attempt larger scale ideas and having some logistical support in the nitty gritty of event planning.

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.”