Art for Engineers

Course proposals for a newly created University of Engineering
by Clyde Smith (circa 1999)

Site-Specific and Object-Oriented Performances

Students will be guided in the production of performances which combine a specific environment not designed for such events and work with objects which exceed the theatrical notion of props. Rather than creating works which are then placed in a setting, the particular environment will be the base for creating the performances. Integral to these productions will be the use of objects designed to spark unique associations and original thinking. These projects will not only spur creative thinking “out of the [theatrical] box” but will also offer unique insights into the possibilities for human interactions with material objects in specific sites.

Dance, Science and Technology at the [Previous] Turn of the Century

While art and science are typically viewed as opposites, some artists have found ways to create work which draws on both areas. The early modern dancers Isadora Duncan and Loie Fuller, working in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, made unique dances which can also be considered forms of scientific research and technological development. Isadora’s writings reveal that she was strongly influenced by the development of evolutionary theory and considered her work an element of that development. Fuller’s work was deeply grounded in stage technology of the time and focused on visual effects dependent on a dancer immersed in a technological environment. She ultimately assembled a group of creative technicians who furthered the development of technical theater. Both Duncan and Fuller met and corresponded with important scientific figures of their time. This course will look at art and science as related enterprises which can learn from each other rather than existing as antagonistic opponents.

Experiments in Art and Technology

The history of modern/postmodern art and related performance works is full of the creative use of technology. This course will focus on moments in which this use was forefronted in the process of making and presenting art. Such experiments include the machine obsessed projects of the Futurists, the 1960s Experiments in Art and Technology, from which this course takes its name, and cyberart which depends on the computer for its existence. Definitions of such terms as “modern,” “postmodern,” “technology,” “science,” and “art” will be closely considered rather than taken for granted.