San Diego Art Institute collaborates with SWC gallery to host inaugural Art Music and Technology Fest

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RIDING THE BRAINWAVE -On the spherical stage of the Ruben Fleet’s IMAX theater, interdisciplinary composer and performer, David Rosenboom, performed an audiovisual demonstration using an unlikely musical instrument: the human brain.
Photo by Chelsea Pelayo

Academics have it wrong about science and art. STEM and VAPA are linked like a strand of DNA.

Ginger Shulick Porcella, executive director of the San Diego Art Institute (SDAI), gets it. She threw open the doors of the 70-year-old facility to make a space for science, music and technology. Porcella collaborated with Southwestern College gallery director Perry Vazquez and the Ruben H. Fleet Science Museum to put on the inaugural Art, Music and Technology Festival. AMT was exhibited at the Ruben H. Fleet Imax theater, SDAI and finally at the SWC gallery.

Porcella said it is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

“For me it was really about organizing a program that highlighted what’s happening in San Diego County,” she said. “I think it’s important to show people that we are at the forefront of these particular trends that are happening here.”

Silos disappeared as experimental panels and performances fused art, music and technology with remarkable results. Fusion creates a vibrant platform for pioneering, cerebral experiences.

Porcella said the AMT festival aimed to wed San Diego County’s rich, science, art and music scenes. Creativity has linked a diverse crowd of artists, scientists, sound engineers and thought leaders who used science and technology to create art.

Panelists were diverse, so were the tools they used to create. Technology like Skype, Google Earth, game consoles and audio programs became palettes to create art and music.

Francisco Eme, an electroacoustic sound engineer from Mexico City, said technology fueled freedom.

“When I was studying musical composition, I found that traditional music was not enough for me,” he said. “You have to learn rules that have been there for 200 years—rules that Johann Sebastian Bach used and I got sick of that.”

Early in his career Eme played in rock, alternative and psychedelic bands, but craved the discipline of academic music. He satisfied his drives with electroacoustic music, which encourages new combinations.

“In electroacoustic music you make music with everything you have (including noise),” he said. “When you include noise as a musical element you can use anything, a volcano, a waterfall, a truck. Your instrument becomes the world.”

Eme composes sound installations that explore elements of movement and finds inspiration in the borderlands.

“I think it took me a year or a little more to finally understand that it’s this clash of two cultures that create a new one,” he said. “So I’m amazed by this new culture that is neither Mexican nor American, but something in between.”

Vasquez collaborates with SDAI and helped bring the AMT festival to SWC.

“Southwestern is trying to establish itself as a cultural center in the South Bay and Ginger was interested in getting off the beaten path,” he said. “She was really open to the idea of bringing it down to a part of a city that doesn’t get that benefit of having that kind of programming often.”

AMT Fest aims to make these conferences accessible to students. Porcella said next year she plans to stage the festival later in February to generate greater student attendance.

“So we want more time to promote with students at the different universities because we really want to make it affordable for students to attend,” she said. “We want to make it accessible both in terms of price and demystifying the (artistic) process for people.”

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