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Miami Arts Week: Knight Foundation’s 'Catalyst' forum to explore digital transformation in the arts

The Knight Foundation is “celebrating the intersection of art and technology” on Monday by bringing together experts and creative minds from both sectors to talk about artificial intelligence, artistic rights and the ethics of digital integration. (ABOVE) Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the New World Symphony on May 7, 2022. The New World Symphony is a recipient of arts grants from Knight.
ALEX MARKOW
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Courtesy of New World Symphony
Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the New World Symphony on May 7, 2022. The New World Symphony received a $10 million grant from the Knight Foundation in its latest wave of arts grants.

The Knight Foundation is “celebrating the intersection of art and technology” on Monday by bringing together experts and creative minds from both sectors to talk about such topics as artificial intelligence, artistic rights and the ethics of digital integration.

The daylong “Catalyst” forum is slated for Monday at the Frank Gehry–designed New World Center, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. as Miami Arts Week gets underway. The forum is by invitation only.

“With this gathering, we aim to create a space that fosters conversations among arts leaders, addressing the profound societal changes brought about by technology today that are shaping the very fabric of our communities for the future," said Victoria Rogers, the Knight Foundation’s vice president of arts. “We want to offer up the tools and opportunity to catalyze their efforts to push creative boundaries within and outside Knight cities.”

Victoria Rogers, Knight Foundation Vice President of Arts
Knight Foundation
/
Knight Foundation
Victoria Rogers, Knight Foundation Vice President of Arts

Rogers, in an interview with WLRN, said the Knight Foundation wants participants to speak about all the issues surrounding art and technology.

"Technology is ubiquitous. We use it in so many ways, but it's not a panacea. And so with Catalyst, we're bringing together a group of experts in the field to really have debates."

"This is gonna be a civil conversation where you have people on both sides of an issue who have very different opinions and the audience, which is people that work in the field, and our grantees, other funders," she said.

"It's all about reaching and extending audiences and reaching people where they are," Rogers told WLRN.

"We're funding local artists. We're funding local organizations that serve the community — but today, your communities can also be online," she added.

Rogers said the forum will be exploring the critical topic of intellectual property.

"In the field today, people are questioning who can download an image that an artist has created.

"So we're going to look at artistic rights in the digital age and royalty distribution with some legal experts in the field because artists need to understand the impact of technology on their ability to create sustainable practices," she said.

"What we're interested in," said Rogers, "is how technology is used in the creation of art, the experiences that are created around art and the distribution of art."

Rogers added that Knight wants to be sure that artists have the tools they need and that "they understand the implications around digital integration."

Among the highlights of sessions and presenters:

  • The ethics of digital integration in the arts with leading scholar Safiya Noble of UCLA and innovator Lauren Lee McCarthy, artist and creator of p5.js, an open-source JavaScript library. 
  • How technology is being utilized to expand the reach and deepen the impact of arts organizations and cultural institutions with industry leaders Thom Collins and Clive Chang.
  • Artistic rights in the digital age with legal experts Vivek Jayaram and Jessica B. Lee, alongside fellow trailblazers working at the forefront of digital content ownership and royalty distribution.
  • How technology can reshape artistic practice with media artists Marco Brambilla and Stephanie Dinkins. 

READ MORE: Knight Foundation announces $400,000 in grants to increase 'digital integration in the arts'

The daylong forum will also feature the works of the following artists:

  • Dr. Madeline Gannon, Knight New Work recipient, “presenting a multisensory performance featuring robots interacting with light, accompanied by New World Symphony violin fellow Ye Jin Min.”
  • Leo Castañeda, United States Artists Knight Arts + Tech Fellow and inaugural YoungArts Art + Tech Fellow, “who blurs the lines between virtual reality and physical space in an immersive surrealist installation.”
  • AIRIE as they “explore Black and Indigenous histories in the Everglades in Passages, directed by Cornelius Tulloch, with performances by Arsimmer McCoy and Kunya Rowley, and a video by Alexa Caravia and Justin Matousek.”
  • Lee Pivnik, Knight Arts Challenge winner, United States Artists Knight Arts + Tech Fellow and founder of the Institute of Queer Ecology, “as he continues his exploration of Miami's environmental challenges through holographic renderings of adaptive architecture from his Symbiotic House project.”
  • The VERSEverse, presenting “a gallery of digital poetry from their archive of NFT poems.”
  • James Allister Sprang, Knight Art + Tech Fellow, presents “a musical composition of orchestral spiritual jazz, written 60 feet beneath the surface of the Caribbean Sea.”
  • Lauren Lee McCarthy, who “interrogates issues of reproductive technology and bodily autonomy through the idea of surrogacy.” 
  • Marco Brambilla, exhibiting “a video installation that meditates on American consumer culture through the legacies of Las Vegas entertainment and musical icon Elvis Presley.”
  • Stephanie Dinkins presenting "Conversations with Bina48, an ongoing art project that features a series of video interviews Dinkins conducts with an advanced Black social robot."

Read the full list of sessions on the Knight Foundation’s Catalyst webpage

In October, the Knight Foundation announced it was making $400,000 available in grants in Miami to boost “digital integration in the arts.”

The Miami-based Knight Foundation funds arts and culture, journalism, research media and democracy, and in 26 U.S. cities and towns where the Knight brothers, John S. and James L. Knight, once published newspapers. The foundation has distributed $2.3 billion over the last nearly two decades.

Ammy Sanchez, the Morning Edition producer for WLRN, studies communications at the Honors College at Florida International University.
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