Better Together

New Museum unveils partnership with Nokia Bell Labs to support art and technology collaborations

Art East Technology
New Museum unveils collaboration with Nokia Bell Labs to support art and technology. (Courtesy Moritz Schmaltz/Wikipedia)
New Museum unveils collaboration with Nokia Bell Labs to support art and technology. (Courtesy Moritz Schmaltz/Wikipedia)

The New Museum in New York has announced a new partnership with Nokia Bell Labs, the American research and scientific development arm of the Finnish phone company. The news means that artists and designers at NEW INC, the New Museum’s in-house incubator, will be supported for their work relating to art and technology.

The scheme will kick off this month with three artists from NEW INC working with engineers from Bell Labs on robotics, machine learning, drones, and biometry to create performative projects. Subsequent works will be displayed at unconventional locations as the program looks to bring the medium outside typical museum and performance space boundaries.

Nokia Bell Labs has forayed into the creative world before. E.A.T. (Experiments in Art and Technology) was begun by Bell Labs engineers, Billy Klüver and Fred Waldhauer, and two artists, Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Whitman, more than fifty years ago. The three NEW INC members chosen for the 2017 partnership are:

HAMMERSTEP
A collective that uses choreography, technology, and nontraditional audience engagement to tell new stories through theater and dance. They are currently developing an immersive theater production called Indigo Grey that invites the audience to become a part of the action.

Lisa Park
A performance artist who strives to create intimate environments and experiences that trigger emotional states and meditative reflections in viewers. She has explored themes of vulnerability, self-control, and confrontation by integrating biometric sensors, such as heart rate and brain wave sensors, into her work.

Sougwen Chung
Chung’s artistic practice spans installation, sculpture, still image, drawing, and performance, informing her multifaceted approach to experiential art. Her ongoing collaborations with a drawing robot, begun while at NEW INC in 2015, explore the difference between handmade and machine-made marks as an approach to understanding the interaction between humans and computers.

“Bell Labs is known for shaping the state of the art and creating pioneering technological solutions for over ninety years. We are continuing this tradition by exploring new sensory dimensions and examining motion and emotion in order to try to discern current and future human needs and desires,” said Marcus Weldon, president of Nokia Bell Labs, in a press release. “We are also working on methods to help people think more efficiently, using a combination of machine learning and new graph-based mathematics to augment human intelligence and perception. I believe that Bell Labs working together with NEW INC will create a new frontier in multimedia sensory art experiences.”

Meanwhile, Lisa Phillips, Toby Devan Lewis Director of the New Museum added, “The New Museum has long been at the forefront of art and technology; this partnership with a legendary research lab will help us continue to push boundaries of cultural expression and possibilities of interdisciplinary collaboration. The NEW INC community embraces an untapped demographic of practitioners.”

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