Art, Technology, and the Mind: A Symposium About the Future

Submitted by Evelyn Kiefer on Sun, 01/22/2006 - 15:52.

"Understanding the New Dynamic: Art, Technology and the Mind" a symposium that took place this past Thursday at the Bolton Theater of the Cleveland Playhouse was a momentous event -- the first of its kind in North America -- according to the moderators of the event, Lev Gonick, Case's Vice President for Information Technology and Len Steinbach, Chief Information Officer, Cleveland Museum of Art. The free event did draw hundreds of people interested in art, technology  and learning or a combination of the three. To describe the panel of four simply, there were two cognitive scientists, an artist and the director of a college art gallery. 

 Merlin Donald, Founding Chair of the Department of Cognitive Science at Case Western Reserve University was the most outspoken panelist. He began the discussion with a presentation on the history of human thought centered upon the unique human ability to imagine and think creatively. Considering art from the perspective of cognition was a new and intriguing experience for myself and I am sure many other audience members. Perhaps freeing yourself from preconceived notions of process and technique is the best way to approach digital art.

Lynn Hershman Leeson was the second speaker. She is an artist who has been on the cutting edge of digital art and new media since her student days in the late 60s. Her presentation utilized her amazing website; visually exciting and easy to navigate, the site functions as an online museum and catalog of her work. For the past 35 years her work has explored in digital media the theme of identity. Clevelanders should be very proud of Lynn, she was born in Cleveland and studied at Case as an undergraduate, though she now lives and works in California. Though few audience members knew much about her before the symposium it is evident that she is a pioneer in art and technology.

The two hours allowed for the four panelist to present their ideas was not nearly enough time to address all the issues surrounding the current state of the intersection of “Art, Technology and the Mind.” The other two panelists, Kristin Hooper Woolsey a leading designer of interactive multimedia and the co-founder and director of Apple Computer's Multimedia Lab, and John Weber, the Director of the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College had little time to tell the audience about their work. Nevertheless, the symposium was fascinating, inspiring and thought provoking and set the stage for future discussion. A sure sign of success, the next evening at the opening of the “All Digital” exhibition at MOCA the symposium was the hot topic of conversation.