Last July, I wrote about the launch of Santa Fe Institute's Interplanetary Project, an interdisciplinary initiative examining cosmic issues and questions from a variety of angles: scientific, artistic and philosophic, to name a few.
At the time, SFI President David Krakauer previewed his vision for a summer festival that would showcase the myriad Santa Fe organizations with future-centric missions to provide the an opportunity to position itself as a place that values innovation and collaboration.
That festival is right around the corner. Come June, the Interplanetary Festival (June 7-8), the annual Currents New Media festival (June 8-24) as well as a slew of other activities from other partners will take over the Railyard and other venues for a month of exhibits, talks, concerts and multi-faceted events centered on the evolving and interconnected roles of science, technology and art (hey! that's what this column is about too!).
This convergence—titled and marketed as Futurition via a city Arts Commission grant—also includes Meow Wolf, Axle Contemporary, form & concept and Art House. Futurition itself is part of the Emerging Media Alliance's Emerging Media Month (EMA's own launch party happens June 14). EMA, a Santa Fe Film and Digital Media Commission Project, also includes Descartes Lab, SITE Santa Fe and MAKE Santa Fe. Regarding the latter, Santa Fe also hosts the Nation of Makers Conference June 9 and 10 at the convention center).
Given the extensive calendar of events, be sure to check out the online resources—from Futurition and the Emerging Media Alliance—for the full schedule. Despite the delays in human cloning, I plan to be at all events simultaneously and will provide a half-time report in this column on June 13.
Frank Ragano, one of Currents' cofounders and executive directors along with Mariannah Amster, says the Futurition collaboration began after discussions with Krakauer last summer. Partnering with Interplanetary and other organizations working at the interface of science, technology and art "fits right into what our vision has always been," Ragano says. Currents, he acknowledges, "has been a central force in this month-long showcase of Santa Fe's growing—I would argue thriving—scene of innovation."
In its ninth year, Currents offers up nearly 90 pieces from close to 100 artists working in a variety of mediums, many immersive and interactive, such as virtual reality, 3-D printing and soundscapes. While Currents has traditionally offered some visitors their first exposure to cutting-edge mediums, Ragano stresses the festival's curatorial vision as rooted in art over technology.
"It used to be hard to find interactive work that wasn't just gimmicky," he says. "But what's happening over the last few years is you're seeing people use [the technology] in an artistic way." Nonetheless, he says, "technology is just another tool and artists are moving toward learning to use the technology. It's just where the art form is going." For some audiences, he adds, the interactive experience "allows an entrance into the art world [for visitors who] aren't necessarily art-interested people, because the technology gives them a foothold to relate, because they're so used to media all around them."
Currents also will include additional programming, such as a virtual reality dance performance the opening night, a workshop on weaving and coding (the relationship between the two, that is), and artists' talks.
In addition to a free opening night Railyard concert by Ozomatli, the Interplanetary Festival features daily panels on topics ranging from living in space to interplanetary intelligence to social and economic engineering and everything in between. Panelists include scientists, of course, along with artists, writers, musicians, business people and futurists of varying degrees. Film showings and book signings also are in the program—a free screening of Forbidden Planet at the Jean Cocteau includes the chance to meet Robby the Robot.
Krakauer and Ragano both described the festival as partially intended to help shift the outside perception of Santa Fe. The city's historical value is undisputed, as is its natural beauty. But it's also home to cutting-edge art, technology and science.
"I think it's fair to say tourism is driven by history," Krakauer says. "It could be recent history, it could be more distant history, but I think a lot of us who live here would like it to be also driven by the incredible creativity of the existing population." And that, he says, "is oriented toward the future … so, it's a little bit of a mixture of that aspiration to create a very forward-looking, hopefully very inclusive, really fun, historically sensitive, new kind of face for this town."
Currents New Media Festival:
June 8-24. Opening night 6 pm Friday June 8. $5.
El Museo Cultural,
555 Camino de la Familia;
Thursday and Friday June 7 and 8. Free.
Santa Fe Railyard, Guadalupe and Alcaldesa Streets;
More information on the many events and exhibits can be accessed at santafefuturition.com