Conflux is a new Harvard student organization dedicated to expanding the intersection between art and technology. It is co-led by metaLAB researchers and Harvard College students Peggy Yin and Alice Cai.
Conflux Winter Residency Overview
The Conflux Winter Residency is a free, student-led residential program for Harvard undergraduates to immerse themselves in exploring, learning, and creating art tech during January term. The program will take place January 4th - 22nd, 2023, and is hosted at the Paulson School Of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) by Conflux, metaLAB, and the SEAS Teaching and Learning Group. Throughout this program, a cohort of 18 fellows from a variety of different disciplinary backgrounds will work together on ambitious art-tech projects with mentorship from metaLAB (at) Harvard and the broader Harvard and Boston art tech communities.
The overarching mission of the residency is to build an interdisciplinary community of artists and technologists who—through intense skill-building workshops and cross-disciplinary collaboration with each other and computational tools—will expand the future of art tech at Harvard and beyond. The program is directed by Peggy Yin ‘25 and Alice Cai ‘25, and supported by metaLAB, the SEAS Teaching and Learning group, Cabot Science Library, and the Office for the Arts.
2023 theme: Liminal Interfaces
Throughout our residency, fellows will conceptualize and create a series of interstitial artworks—art that is genre-bending, genre-breaking, or simply the art of the in-between. These projects center around our 2023 theme, Liminal Interfaces, which explores the ways in which art and media technology can transform liminal spaces—the transitory, ambiguous, and often painful spaces between locations or states of being—into personal and meaningful places.
We will first explore elevators as familiar and tangible liminal spaces where we will investigate the mundane, perfunctory interactions that we have become accustomed to in our daily lives. These spaces provide a unique opportunity for art and technology to play a transformative role, as they allow for the creation of interactive installations that can bridge the gap between the meaningless and the meaningful. By turning elevators into environments lush with play, interactivity, and connection, we transform liminal spaces from settings of disengagement and distress to interfaces of agency and growth.
Over the course of 2.5 weeks, fellows will live and collaborate in a tight-knit community of students from across humanities and engineering disciplines. They will explore the Boston art tech scene, and engage with leading artists and technologists in speaker events and meals. They will learn and hone a range of creative techniques and technologies in expert-led, hands-on workshops. They will be personally mentored by metaLAB members and working art tech professionals to conceptualize and create their own art tech project, and collaborate to curate a public showcase of residency work.
In the first phase of the residency, fellows will be introduced to the field of art tech through artist talks, studio visits, and exhibition tours with invited guests such as Jeffrey Schnapp, Martin Wattenberg, Seth Riskin, and Jeff Steward. During this time, fellows will also engage in a variety of team exercises to strengthen their collaborative mindsets, and prepare them to work in cross-disciplinary teams.
In the second phase of the residency, fellows will engage in hands-on workshops with Oopsa and the Radcliffe Public Art Competition, the Virtual John Harvard Project and the Harvard Visualization Research and Teaching Laboratory, and guest artists—Sarah Newman, Jacek Smolicki, Rus Gant, Jeanette Andrews, Devon Bryant—to learn foundational art tech skills such as site-specific design and implementation, soundscape composition, XR/AR/VR development, and projection mapping. Fellows will apply these skills to design and implement prototypes, which will be reviewed by mentors.
In the third phase of the residency, residency fellows will work in small teams on art tech projects transforming a liminal space of their choosing into an interface, with mentorship and critique from members of the metaLAB community and guest artists. Residency fellows will then collaborate on creating a cohesive exhibition showcasing their work during the program.
During this residency, fellows will produce both individual and collaborative works, including:
- Individual art tech portfolios and artist statements
- Several art tech installation prototypes
- A final, public exhibition of work completed during residency
- Multimodal documentation of design & engineering processes
Fellows will emerge from the program with a deepened understanding of their own artistic philosophies, and the ways in which technology may augment or extend them. More than that, fellows will emerge with a broadened understanding of how art tech may be used to investigate and elevate our lives.
Kidist Alemu, Aida Baradari, Alice Cai, Priscilla Cheav, Ibta Chowdhury, Holden Edmonds, Adrian Hackney, Liya Jin, Julian Li, Karen Li, Sera McDonald, AnhPhu Nguyen, Kassandra Rodriguez-Acosta, Izumi Vazquez, Ricky Williams, Peggy Yin, Alina Yu, and Kaitlyn Zhou
*Cover image by Kunal Botla