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The Trajectory Series

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February 27, 2020 – January 24, 2021

The Trajectory Series is an exhibition and series of accompanying programs comprising a collection of experiences that examine how creative behaviors advance cultures and technologies. Through artworks, interactive media, storytelling, education, and an artist residency, The Trajectory Series seeks to anticipate the possible futures we are only now beginning to imagine. Guest curated by Christopher Willey.

The exhibition features artwork from Benjamin Bardou, Sandra Byers, Bryan Cera, Alex Chowaniec, Jess Holz, Eduardo Kac, Quinn Madson, A. Bill Miller, Alex MyersThomas Thwaites, and Marianne Fairbanks.

The Trajectory Series at the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum is an exhibit of innovative and provocative art inspired by and created with emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, bioengineering, and virtual and augmented reality. Through the lens of art, the series traces the evolution and creative interplay of art and science and how this relationship continues to inspire creatives – artists, scientists, engineers, inventors, and craftspeople – to develop new artistic and technological applications that transform society, often in completely unexpected ways. The Trajectory Series invites us to not only celebrate the history and evolution of creativity, but also consider the impact of emerging art forms, scientific advances, and technological applications on our society in ways we are only now beginning to imagine.

Curator’s Statement:

The Trajectory Series seeks to redefine the overburdened word “technology” as a term that describes behaviors. The exhibition looks at the role creative behaviors play in the evolution of technology, and reframes systems like language, culture, and the scientific method. Each exhibition space will offer context as well as prepare the audience for where technological advancements may be taking us. Ultimately, we hope our audience leaves with a greater understanding of their own creative agency, and how their collective behaviors might influence the future. By bringing minds together to focus on creativity and technology, we can gain a larger perspective.


Exhibition opens: Thursday, February 27, 2020

Members’ preview 5:30-6:00 p.m.
Talk by curator Christopher Willey begins at 7:00 p.m.

Exhibition Essay:

Technology and Creative Behaviors

The Trajectory Series showcases a myriad of interpretations and cross-connections that represent unique and individual creative behaviors addressing art and science. Historically, western culture has often positioned “art” and “science” as two ends of a spectrum with the former focused on individual creativity and the latter on logical methodology. In this exhibition, we no longer view art and science in opposition to each other, but part and parcel of the creative production of human existence.

Within the scope of the works exhibited, one can see how science and technology are intrinsic to the creative artistic process. Today, it is within the realm of both the artist and scientist to push these creative expressions to forge new understandings of human culture, artistic production, technology, and ultimately, behavior.

When we consider an art historical framework for these unique creative expressions, it is imperative to address connections to the past. In 1991, author Dr. Mark Weiser wrote an article for Scientific American entitled, “The Computer for the 21st Century.” At the time, Weiser was director of the Computing Laboratory at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), an institution whose primary focus was and is on visionary computer research and development. Regarding the technology of the time Weiser stated:

"We are therefore trying to conceive a new way of thinking about computers, one that takes into account the human world and allows the computers themselves to vanish into the background. Such a disappearance is a fundamental consequence not of technology but of human psychology. Whenever people learn something sufficiently well, they cease to be aware of it."

Weiser’s ideas stand on the shoulders of eminent philosophers and psychologists of the time. In this work, Weiser was trying to envision a world in which computers would not be seen as “other,” but as part of human existence so much so that humans would cease to be aware of them. Recall, of course, that 1991 was before the general use of laptop computers, cell phones, and the internet.

Our current reality mirrors Weiser’s futuristic view of the world, as ubiquitous computing surrounds us in many available ways: our laptops, our cell phones, our home security, our smart watches, and our virtual assistants. These are so embedded in our lives that misplacing or not being able to access technology has become problematic as our human need to be connected to the entire world at a moment’s notice is continually increasing. The smartphone which went into commercial use extensively in 2007, has created a digital and technological revolution that has changed human behavior indelibly. The concept of FOMO (fear of missing out) is now part of our cultural understanding and correlates to our 24/7 need for our smartphones. As envisioned in Weiser’s article, it is the omnipresence of technology which has become our cultural behavior. We don’t think about leaving our phones at home, they are part of our daily lives just like the keys to our houses; and in some cases, with smart door locks, they are the actual “keys” to our houses.

Consider the Apple Watch foreshadowed by the 1946 Dick Tracy wrist radio. The Apple Watch encompasses the phone, calendar, weather report, and of course the clock, yet it has evolved further – superseding the ideas presented by Weiser. The watch app “Breathe” transforms the involuntary human action of breathing into an enhanced experience when the watch vibrates periodically to remind the wearer to take a series of deep breaths. It physically interacts with the human – encouraging mindfulness and deepening the connection between technology and human behavior. The transition from what was seen as a technology developed from human creativity has transitioned into a behavioral need that connects beyond an individual to an entire cultural understanding of the world.

It is this transformation of ideas that the creative work exhibited in The Trajectory Series attempts to convey. These creative expressions show that there are many paths to achieving a blending of creative practice and technology into a cultural behavior. The divergent experiences presented in The Trajectory Series, begin to frame a broader understanding of how the interactions, intersections, and opportunities we now have in the 21st century will influence our future world. What will this new world look like? In the Dake Gallery, the examples encompass prehistoric creative behaviors in clay to vessels molded with sacred geometries to the impetus of 3-D printing with clay slip. These works exemplify our understanding that human intention has and will continue to express the creative relationships that develop between science, art, technology, and ultimately, behavior.

The works presented in The Trajectory Series attempt to showcase variation in human creative production through many different means: analog to digital, traditional to innovative, practical to visionary. It is important to consider how and what each human brings to this discussion. Open your mind and remember that everyone has the ability to impact cultural behaviors that ultimately guide the human experience into the future.

Chris Szczesny Adams, Ph.D. Professor of Art History
Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design

Exhibition Events

18 Apr

The Trajectory Series: Gallery Day Walk-Through - Cancelled

April 18, 2020 | 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Walk through the exhibition with the curator and exhibiting artists.

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1 Oct

Portia Cobb: Story as Technology

October 01, 2020 | 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Join us for a fun and intriguing look inside Portia Cobb's work featuring Cobb and curator Christopher Willey.

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8 Oct

Portia Cobb: Story as Technology Live Discussion

October 08, 2020 – October 01, 2020 | 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Live group discussion with Portia Cobb about her work and conversation with Christopher Willey about story as technology.

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20 Dec

Virtual Intro To Weaving Workshop

December 20, 2020 | 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Virtual Intro To Weaving Workshop Hosted by Marianne Fairbanks

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