The UC Davis graduate department of performance studies will host the “Performance: Reading, Writing and Technology” symposium today at noon in the Technocultural Studies Building.
Part of a year-long series on electronic media and writing, the all-day event features talks by several multidisciplinary artists and multimedia installations by UCD students. The event is free.
Theatre and dance professor Lynette Hunter and Ph.D. student in performance studies Praba Pilar created the conference to discuss how electronic media is changing the interaction between artists and audiences.
“A lot of artwork that’s done with electronic media doesn’t really address the audience,” Pilar said.
To help foster the dialogue, there will be a Q&A session after the presentations.
The conference has drawn individuals from throughout California to discuss topics about reading and technology. Los Angeles-based artist René Garcia, who is speaking at the event, sees reading as a complex, culturally shaped act. He plans to discuss how artists are looking at the act of reading as a concept.
“Certain symbols mean certain things to certain people,” he said, using the symbol of a red octagon on the side of a road as an example. “I hope that participants will enjoy the interesting angle that artists take on text and reading.”
Part of the all-day event will include a service lead by Pilar, an ordained minister in the Church of Nano Bio Info Cogno, an organization that celebrates nanotechnology, biotechnology, informational technology and cognitive neuroscience. For more information about the church, visit churchofnbic.com.
The service will present the church’s unique perspective on technological development through religious rituals common to Catholicism, such as singing holy songs, confessions and taking communion.
“People sin against technology,” Pilar said. “When you Google yourself, that is a form of masturbation. When you curse your computer, that is a serious sin. We are able to absolve them of their guilt.”
The service is a celebration of technological saviors like Steve Jobs and Raymond Kurzweil, according to Pilar. The church expresses ideas that highlight the changing relationship of technology and society, which she will cover in her sermon.
“The sermon is about understanding the new age is dawning and the rapture of 2012 is coming,” Pilar said. “We have to upload our consciousness on silicon chips. We have to celebrate our post-human future and get rid of our cognitive memory banks that we’re relying on now.”
Throughout the day, the event will be open to view the installations, which were created by UCD students. Studio arts M.F.A. candidate and trained bookbinder Julia Elsas will display two installations of hand-bound books as an antithesis to the new media-themed event.
“The book becomes a physical representation of time and labor,” she said in an e-mail interview. “The experience of working on the project became a performance of time – a contemplation of and a homage to a lost art.”
The symposium, which also features keynote speaker and UCSD associate professor Adriene Jenick as well as video artist Jesus Aguilar, is the first of several events planned to appear throughout other UC campuses. By continuing the discourse of reading and technology through future meetings, the performances are aimed to add to the cultural dialogue in the UC community.
The next conference will be held Nov. 6 and 7 at UC Irvine and will focus on the future of writing.
CHRIS RUE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.