The Georgia Tech Arts Initiative: Four Years Later

It has been nearly four years since Engineered Art: An International Sculpture Exhibit very publicly launched Georgia Tech’s arts Initiative. And a lot has happened since: the creation of an external Arts Advisory Board, the formation of the Council of the Arts, and the hiring of Madison Cario, our first director of the new Office of the Arts. We have also added a dozen or so public art pieces to our permanent collection (with several more coming) and dedicated Robert Berk’s Albert Einstein Monument on campus. These are a few of the most visible activities that have infused the arts into our community and changed our environment.

We have seen significant improvements to the Ferst Center and enjoyed a major transformation to its programming, including performances that are more appealing to our student body and are increasingly illustrative of technology’s role in the creative arts. We have partnered with the High Museum to bring the interactive Los Trompos exhibit and enjoyed the playing of pianos in public areas. The Art Crawl has grown into a robust annual event with hundreds of student participants in the performing and visual arts. The Margaret Guthman New Musical Instrument Competition is now a world-class event that engages students, faculty, and researchers in the creation of next-generation musical instruments, fusing musicality, design, and engineering.   

Despite this impressive litany of accomplishments, the most important success is the increasing assimilation of arts and creativity in the daily life of our campus and, increasingly, in our curriculum. Our students and faculty appreciate how the processes of innovation, design, and creativity are shared between our core disciplines and the arts.

In the fall, four representatives from our Georgia Tech community will participate in the Atlantic Coast Conference Smithsonian Creativity and Innovation Festival. The inaugural event will be held Oct. 13-15 in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and feature all ACC schools in a celebration of creativity and innovation with a specific focus on science, engineering, arts, and design. The festival was initiated by the provosts of the ACC’s 15 members and will, like the ACC InVenture Competition, challenge the intellectual prowess and creativity of all our students.

Thirty-four submissions have been selected for the exhibit — a disproportionate four of them from Georgia Tech! They include:

  • Creative Collisions by Clint Zeagler and Laura Levy
  • LuminAl, by Duri Long, Mikhail Jacob, and led by Brian Magerko, associate professor in the School of Literature, Media and Communication
  • PH571 by Ben Horst
  • Rib Cage, performance and instrument by Takumi Ogata

Another example is To Sleep to Dream, a spring-season performance by EarFilms this past March. The experience was extraordinary. As a participant, you enjoy the production blindfolded and in complete darkness — listening to a narrative about a man in a society where dreaming is outlawed. Dozens of loudspeakers produce a unique, immersive auditory experience. As you listen your brain fills in the missing images (although there are few to no descriptive elements in the narrative). Presumably, each of us, deprived of our usual visual stimuli, borrow from our own past experiences to imagine or create the “set” where the story occurs. It is an incredible way to illustrate why the study of the brain and our new initiative in neurobiology is so important!

That is what the Arts Initiative is all about!

The 2017-2018 Arts@Tech season is taking shape. I know it will prove to be another captivating and enriching series of performances and interactive exhibits. I hope you’ll join me in the experience next year.

- Rafael L. Bras

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  • Einstein at GT

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Susie Ivy

Institute Communications


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