Early Experiments with Perceptual Environments in the Southland

Los Angeles founded the West Coast Chapter of E.A.T. in 1969—E.A.T. stands for Experiments in Art and Technology—in a concerted effort to promote/utilize/collaborate/participate/incorporate the skills sets of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) physicists, the engineering talents at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), with the experimental artists working in new materials and perspective who were residing in Los Angeles.  One exciting outcome of this merging of science/engineering/art would be the Southland group Chrysalis and their staged performances/manifestations such as Inflatable Environment of 1970.  What are your thoughts on the merging of Science/Technology/Art in the last quarter of the 20th Century?  Is such blending of  professional occupations good or bad for Art?

Chrysalis, Examples of Inflatable Environments, 1970+

Author: roberttracyphd

Academic professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. I teach theory courses in Art and Architecture History. In addition, I also curate exhibitions on campus as well as in other venues nationally and internationally.

15 thoughts on “Early Experiments with Perceptual Environments in the Southland”

  1. My thoughts on merging of science and technology in art it is a good thing. The artist can make an idea real towards any community and be relieved that it can be completed by a professional engineer. Both parties can still work with each other for more further exploration.

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  2. Art can help represent complicated ideas visually in a way that is easier for the viewer to understand. It makes scientific data and mechanics relatable. But art is more than a physical representation of an idea. Sometimes the process is more important than the end result. The artistic process of creativity, ideation, process, problem solving, and perspective can be applied to other fields and work together to create new scientific and technological breakthroughs. I don’t see any way that the blending of art and sciences could be negative.

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  3. I for one, think that this is such a cool and wonderful idea! Speaking personally I know as an artist myself that subjects involving anything mathematical never come easy in the slightest to me. Usually when I think of these fields merging I figure the purpose of doing so is to some how incorporate the results into practical usage of everyday life. So when I see installations such as the ones created by Chrysalis and their partners I find it highly intriguing. I can’t imagine why such an endeavor would be “bad” for art. I think art needs this type of exposure because by partnering with fields that are often viewed as more “productive” the artist are gaining the exposure that they deserve. Artist can be recognized for more than just what people see on the surface. So yes, I think it’s a good thing, not negative at all.

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  4. The merging or blending of science and art allows for people to work together to solve a problem or create something through different means. I do not think that it is bad for art at all. I see the world as art and I think that art can be applied to anything. Science and math and technology are all forms of art, just not in the traditional way that many are accustomed to seeing art. Like Sam said, sometimes the process is more important than the end result. In the process of creating something or solving a problem, different ideas are brewing from different people. All parties involved benefit because they are all exposed to something they may not be accustomed to. By working with people who work in a different field from you, you are allowing yourself to have a better understanding of the world works.

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  5. The blending of art and technology is a great thing. There have been a few technological achievements that were a result of artistic exploration. As for the other way around, technology is just another medium through which artists can express themselves. Things like light installations, or even the work of Vija Celmins is an example of technology and art blending. Celmins work may not be a direct use of technology in art, but her work is the result of the existence of things like cameras and high functioning telescopes. There are now much, much more possible ways for artists to express themselves.
    On a more simple, basic level, technology has also given everyone tools at their fingertips to express themselves creatively through programs such as Photoshop or Adobe suite.

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  6. I am a firm believer that art and science should be merged. Both the arts and sciences are critical elements of everyday life, so they should not be at war with one another. I think many people see science as superior to art or art as superior to science, but in reality one cannot be superior to the other because they are integrated. Coming from a background in web design and development, it is easy to see how important this integration is. A developer may write amazing code with wonderful functionalities, but it is up to the designer to make sure that the end product is usable and looks nice so that the code translates into something that people can actually understand and use. In the end, the merging of art and science/technology is beneficial for both parties.

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  7. The merging of science, technology, and art is definitely a good idea. To me, it just creates another medium of art and allows more styles to be displayed. If anything, technology actually helps artists make their work more precise and exact to how they want it. I feel like there are no limits to what processes could be taken to create art. Using different methods creates different and new perspectives that might help artists improve not only their own skills but gain new ones too.

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  8. The blending of mediums like technology and art is an organic advancement of creativity. With new developments everyday in technology it is no surprise that artists are incorporating it into their respective crafts. The utilization of technology is great for the advancement of art because it continues to push the envelope. The incorporation of technology is similar to the Ferus Gallery history. Both groups are challenging the status quo and creating something completely new. Development spark ingenuity, and that ingenuity could possibly create the next era of art.

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  9. I think the merging of fields like art and science can only be beneficial for each. With scientists creating new materials and substances for artists to use, and artists pushing the creativity and limits of the scientists, there can only be good outcomes. Integration between these two professions led to some of my favorite artists’ work like Tom Sach’s “A Space Station”. Also, without technology and scientific advancements, installations and exhibits would remain stagnant. Science is what pushes art to be its best.

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  10. I think this blending of skill sets was instrumental and key for the success of both fields, allowing each an openminded environment to experiment. This was significant for the science community, it redirected post-WWII talent that benefited us during the Cold War era. This collaboration enriched and defined art movements of the time.

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  11. I think that the merging of Science/Technology/Art in the last quarter of the 20th Century was the best thing that could happen for Science, Technology, and art. If they had only stuck to their own fields, they probably wouldn’t have been able to progress are far as they have. I also believe that it was inevitable for the three to merge because in order to think of new ideas, you have to be creative. Thinking creatively is a key concept in problem solving which is what all three, especially art, deal with. When we grow up, we start out as artist when our parents give us coloring books. It may not seem like art, but it is an entry point to think about lines and the colors that fill them. Then we doodle in our homework our stick figure fights or beloved cartoon characters. After that, whether we go into science, technology, or art, we already have a basic understanding of how to put a writing utensil to paper to create something that can be called art even if it is just a sketch. With most if not every person having the ability to draw in some form or fashion, it makes complete sense how the merging of science, technology, and art has only brought about great things.

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  12. I believe Science and Art to always have co-existed together, I believe they are vital to each other as they constantly allow for new ideas to grow and be embraced by both communities. In a sense they both feed into each others fire, I believe it allows for a whole new realm of creativity to take place in order to better and influence society. I have found myself looking towards science when I wish to draw inspiration and I believe an aspiring scientist to do the same when they seek a new burst of creative energy.

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  13. I feel that the blending of these fields for art is a great thing for the future of humanity. I see only good things coming from a multi-disciplined team of people working together to produce objects that humans can then use to help further human life. Whether people know it or not it takes a team to make things happen. Never in the world has something been done by just one person. The people who are known for pushing the human race forward always came with a team of people helping and supporting the creations produced. I think that with more mindsets working together to achieve goals and solving problems, then there is nothing the human race can’t achieve. With the blending of Science/Technology/Art, so much is possible. In my opinion, it took these kind of mindsets to get where we are today, imagine if we just realized it and worked together, twice the change can be done for the greater good of all.

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  14. I think the blending is a very good thing. It can lead to not only an appreciation for a different aspect in life, but also innovations and increase the realm of possibility for creations. An artist can see something in a way that an engineer might not, and vise versa, and the other party can then find a way to make it happen. I think all fields could learn something from one another, and that collaborations could lead to limitless possibilities. Different creative fields all have different ways of thinking, and sometimes they become so consumed in their way of doing things that they miss out on the common qualities and hidden opportunities lying within

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  15. I believe the blending of professional occupations is absolutely valid and extremely important. I agree with Winnie when she says: “The blending of art and technology is a great thing. There have been a few technological achievements that were a result of artistic exploration.”

    In the art field as a Graphic Designer I am constantly working with other professionals in order to come up with a great final result for my clients. In a case of a client’s website for example, I can come up with a killer design but it is also important for me to work closely in collaboration with maybe a photographer and a computer programmer to make the website experience for the audience/viewer even more memorable. I believe that is exactly what Southland group Chrysalis did with their staged performances/manifestation. By combining Science, Technology and Art they were able to enhance the viewers’ experience by a level that by themselves (science, technology or art) would not be achievable.

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