For many of us, technology is not simply a piece of our world but a thread that links the various aspects of our lives together. It makes up the fabric of our communication, education and entertainment. It’s no surprise that it has become a large part of art practice as well.
Centre 3 for Print and Media Arts is organizing Function Keys: A Conference on New Technology and Digital Culture which aims to celebrate both art and technology. In its fourth year, the four-day conference will take place from Nov. 8 to Nov. 11 at The Spice Factory.
The conference will consist of lectures, performances, demonstrations and workshops. Artists, academics and hackers from across Canada and the United States will be present to discuss and present emerging technological trends.
“[W]e’re really interested in the acronym STEAM which is science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics…[A]s opposed to splitting them off into individual categories, [it’s about] bringing them all together and understanding how they can inform each other,” explained Ariel Bader-Shamai, an organizer for the conference.
“[W]e’re in a really technocentric world right now and our culture is very technocentric, so I think it makes sense that it would also inform art practice… [T]hey inform each other… by necessity.”
The ways in which art and technology can inform each other can be seen in the events that are scheduled for the conference, from a workshop on location-aware storytelling to a lecture on interactive textiles and two electrifying performances.
On Nov. 9 Function Keys will be putting on a performance in partnership with Strangewaves. Hamilton artist Allie Brumas and Detroit musician Onyx Ashanti will be the highlight of the night. Ashanti is the focre behind a new way of making music called beatjazz. On the night of Nov. 10, electronic music producers Dark Rooms, Orphx and Cape Esan will be performing.
Friday night of #fk4 will be curated by the lovely folks at @strangewavesfes , featuring the creator of beatjazz Onyx Ashanti (Detroit, MI) and local musical wiz, Allie Blumas! Nov 9 at the Spice Factory – event is free but advanced registration required. pic.twitter.com/xtDDBopQMF
— Function Keys (@FunctionK) 5 October 2018
In addition to these bigger names, the conference is providing space for emerging artists and those who may not have an opportunity to show their work in traditional spaces. On Nov. 9, the Mad Science Fair will carve out space for makers, hobbyists and digital media artists to showcase their creative projects.
By providing this space, the conference aims to be more approachable and accessible. The conference is also aiming to reduce financial barriers through a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. Many of the events taking place will either be free or have a low cost associated with them.
“I think that when things are free, that takes away a barrier…[M]aybe it’s something you’ve never heard of before, never attempted before but maybe you’re curious about it…you’re not losing anything, all you’re gaining is a fun experience or a new skill,” Bader-Shamai explained.
Introducing new technology to those who are unfamiliar with it is one of the goals for the conference. The conference will pair art and technology in ways that some may not have seen before and equip attendees with new skills that they can incorporate into their creative pursuits.
However, the event can appeal to anyone interested in learning more about technology. The conference provides a rare and accessible way for anyone to gain knowledge about new and exciting happenings within the technological and art worlds.
Part 1: Nov. 10 9:30 a.m.–4 p.m., Part 2: Nov. 11 9:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
Barbara Layne is the director of Studio subTela, one of the labs of the Textiles and Materiality Research Cluster at the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology. She works with graduate students from Concordia University as well as international collaborators. RythÂ Kesselring is also part of studio subTela, where she works as a research assistant on electronics and embroideries for smart textiles.Their two-day hands-on workshop will have participants design and create a small project that incorporates LEDs. The workshop will give an introduction to basic electronics, simple circuits, light-emitting fabrics, Arduino microcontrollers and more. The workshop will also address associated technical, aesthetic, artistic and design issues. No sewing or electronics knowledge is required. There is a $10 materials fee to cover the cost of the electronic components.
Nov. 10, 11–2 p.m.
Nicole Clouston is a practice-researcher currently completing her PhD in Visual Art at York University. She is also an artist in residence at the Coalesce Bio Art Lab at the University at Buffalo. Through her practice, she explores what happens when we acknowledge, through an embodied experience, our connection to a world teeming with life both around and inside us.
Her free hands-on workshop will have participants create sculptures using mud that they can take home. Participants will pick from fifteen mud samples collected around Lake Ontario, including samples from Hamilton. The mud will be placed in clear tubes with nutrients to support microbial growth and, with exposure to light and some time, participants will be able to watch the microbial life grow and form vibrant marbling across the surface.
Nov. 10, 12-2 p.m.
Tony Vieira is a musician, composer and media artist. He has composed original music scores for television, film and interactive media and has created augmented reality and alternate reality projects that have been exhibited internationally. A senior researcher at the York University Augmented Reality Lab and Music Program tutorial instructor, he is currently pursuing a PhD in Ethnomusicology and Digital Studies.
His free workshop will have participants explore approaches and concepts related to hybrid media article, such as virtual embodiment, public private space, place-making, locative listening and more. Participants will be able to create a short audio piece that will be geo-located to a location of their choice.
Nov. 11 2018, 9-4 p.m.
Todd Murray also goes by the name SixbySeven. He is a Hamilton resident who has been involved with art and photography for over 30 years. He is a founding member of the Studio 12 Artistic Photographers Collective. His earliest ventures into music synthesizers were in 1978, building his own analog synthesizer.
His workshop is open to anyone with an interest in creating music using a synthesizer. The morning session has a cost of $10 and includes demonstrations of different synthesizers, the synth voice, extended effects, and connectivity. An optional afternoon session allows participants to assemble their own Moog Werkstatt desktop synthesizer to take home. The cost is $350 for the afternoon session but alternative options may be available for those who cannot afford the full price.
For more information on the events, workshops and registration information visit functionkeys.ca