What happens when artists and scientists bring their talents together from across continents? An explosion of novel intersections as evidenced by a recent collaboration between Cornish College of the Arts and the Chilean-based ASKXXI.
ASKXXI, , Arts + Science Knowledge Building and Sharing in the 21st (XXI) Century, was created to foster Chile-U.S. cooperation and collaboration in arts, emerging digital/virtual technologies, and the ecological sciences. A certification program is anchored at the UCSC, Concepción, Chile, and brings together a consortium of academic, industry and community partners, including Cornish.The 2018 pilot is sponsored, in part, by the U.S. Embassy in Chile.
In June 2018, ten Chilean inaugural fellows and four faculty from a range of disciplines (biology, design, film, agronomy, journalism, science communication, science illustration, and architecture) landed in the Pacific Northwest to participate in the U.S. leg of this year-long exchange program inspired by the experiences of co-founders Fernanda Oyarzun and Genevieve Tremblay, who both did art residencies at the Friday Harbor Laboratories, a marine biology field station of the University of Washington.
Together they worked to create “a platform to build a pioneering community that seeks, through innovative pedagogical methodologies, to advance excellence in interdisciplinary connections between the arts and ecological science,” according to an article by Oyarzun published in the San Juan Islander.
Over the past year, Tremblay, the ASKXXI US Academic Program Director, developed a three-week program happening in both the field and the city. She reached out to her colleagues at Cornish to help develop specific workshops for this part of the program. “The magic sauce of the Cornish contributors was bringing the studio to the field with digital workshops. Jeff Brice introduced this idea of doing 3D modeling of specimens in the field and then bringing them back to the studio to recreate using the HoloLens or 3D printing. The whole point is to bring field-based practices into the 21st century,” said Tremblay, who has taught at Cornish and organized a number of civic and artistic partnerships while at the college.
The first week of the program was based at Friday Harbor Labs, said Tremblay. The Chile-US team engaged in field trips, lab work, field exploration, science lectures, and artist lectures. Design Chair Brice led a workshop on parametric modeling, photogrammetry, 3D workflows into mixed reality and virtual reality devices, and gave an insightful lecture on design as an ecology of practices. Humanities & Sciences Assistant Professor Jack DeLap led a digital field drawing workshop using iPad Pros (supplied to the Chilean fellows by the Design department), lectured on analog and digital field based practice, and conducted a guided bird watching tour on San Juan Island.
Design student Kylie Rench served as an intern for the Friday Harbor portion, which also included scientific studies of forms in nature and the ecological health of coastlines, bird spotting, whale watching, fish morphology and the historical ecological data of San Juan island, and bioluminescent algae observed from night boats.
Then the participants moved back to Seattle, staying at Cornish Commons, and meeting with local businesses. Their activities include DiPietro’s VR Painting workshop on campus; data visualization lectures/workshop with Schema Design, Microsoft, and UW Data Lab; explorations in virtual/augmented/mixed reality (VR/AR/XR) with AltspaceVR, Pixvana,Creative Exchange Lab, and Pacific Science Center; and a VIP tour of Amazon Spheres, the company’s enclosed urban gardens three blocks away from campus.
Additional art/ecology activities included all day workshops at UW Bothell and University of Puget Sound as well as many lectures and studio visits with local Pacific Northwest artists including Timea Tihanyi (Sliprabbit Studios), Ginny Ruffner, Gerri Ondrizek, Ian Boyden, George Rodriguez, Maya Petric, and Afroditi Psarra.
ASKXXI will next move to southern Chile for similar experiences investigating the ecological issues facing that region. Exhibitions in 2019 of the work generated through the program are planned to ignite wider societal conversations about ecology, natural diversity, and cultural diversity.