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Ken Goldberg on A Century of Art & Technology in the Bay Area

Ken Goldberg, BCNM and EECS professor — and artist extraordinaire — published an article, A Century of Art and Technology in the Bay Area, on Medium. The article traces some of the key historical and cultural moments for art in the Bay area, highlighting the rich environment for art and technology that this region fosters. Goldberg engages with robotics, automation, art, and social media. He’s Director of the People and Robots Initiative (a CITRIS multicampus multidisciplinary research program established in April 2015) and UC Berkeley’s Automation Sciences Research Lab (since 1995).

Some highlights of the article below:

“From pirates to prospectors to physicists and from poets to pranksters to programmers, the Bay Area is a magnet for mavericks impatient to reinvent the world.
“In 1978, Mark Pauline founded the guerilla tech-art collective Survival Research Labs to create and present machine art performances around the world. SRL introduced welding and machining skills to a network of artists such as Kal Spelletich and Eric Paulos and led to institutions like the Crucible in the East Bay. Scavenging for “obtanium” was an integral action for accessing impossibly priced tech materials. Punk and Performance Art were influences on a movement described in “The Industrial Culture Handbook” published by V. Vale’s Re/Search.
“Each wave of art and technology starts with a real or imagined discovery: land, gold, atomic elements, hallucinogens, circuits, algorithms. As Timothy Leary allegedly observed: “California is the end of the genetic runway.” The Northern California / Bay Area Art and Technology counterculture paves that runway with a true love of science and engineering, a deep resistance to authority, and an undaunted belief in Power to the People. The Bay Area is quick to forgive and embrace projects that don’t go the way they were intended. This ecosystem continues to explore and experiment with new ways to express ideas that could not be expressed before.”

Read the rest of the article here.

The featured image is Goldberg’s most recent artwork Bloom. Bloom is an earthwork that transforms live seismic data into an exuberant display of color. In contrast to the distractions of contemporary life, Bloom suggests a meditation on growth and geological endurance.

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