CAA in LA: Snapshots from the West Coast

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Many InterArts students attended the College Art Association Conference in Los Angeles this past month. CAA is the annual convergence of artists, teachers, theorists, and students from institutions and galleries from around the world. It is an amazing networking opportunity and also a chance to experience a new city, seeing as how CAA meets in Chicago, New York, and LA.

This, Prospective Student, is the perfect time to enjoy yourself while spreading your academic horizons. This blog will demonstrate the balance to a T.

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The reason? Well, we all went to several academic panels, discussions, new media demonstrations, and artist talks. No one took any photos. What photos we did take were the ones of us having fun, relaxing, and enjoying the West Coast landscape. Text and subtext. Images and language. Listen to my words and enjoy the photos–both together tell the complete story.

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The New Media Caucus hosted a round of artist presentations in downtown L.A. These artists had six minutes to describe their work, which ranged from performance forays into Second Life, computer-programmed fashion design, and YouTube remix mash-ups. Of note, InterArts Thesis student Michelle Graves presented her project Transgression Through Your Breath at the event with confidence, video pizzaz, and brevity. In this blogger’s opinion, Graves held the audience with a well-rehearsed showcase of her captivating work.

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Another NMC event in the orbit of CAA was the symposium at the Glendale Community College Planetarium. Students, instructors, and new media artists gathered to watch the six-projector setup play video art in the dome as technical demonstration and artistic discourse. From my reclined seat, I watched abstract colors and manipulated video play with dimensionality and scope on the concave surface. This was not a Pink Floyd laser light show or a science education reel from the seventies. The audience discussed how artists can create and show work in this alternative setting, a setting that is so entrenched in scientific and educational fields. It is a continuing debate in new media work, where makers attempt to overcome the public perception of tech demos, field trips, and science experiments to present their work in the realm of fine art.

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…and then, of course, there were other fun things outside the conference. I’ve teased you with enough images. You’ve twisted my arm. I give. CAA seems to be perfectly timed in the spring semester. It is the chance to get out of Chicago, the grad school grind, and fill the artistic well with new experience. By their very nature, interdisciplinary artists are running on all cylinders when they produce. We need to enjoy nature and relax.

My colleagues and I traveled to Malibu, where we met InterArts alum Chip Duggan to rock climb. Duggan’s work revolves around climbing urban landscapes–Chicago, Hollywood, LA, etc.–and his training starts in climbing natural landscapes. So, we harnessed up and climbed.

And then we went hiking.

We found Jim Morrison’s songwriting cave.

We saw the Pacific Ocean.

My point is that CAA fills the well for our heads and our hearts. We go on an adventure and discuss new media and rock climbing, The Doors and dome art, art lectures and hiking trails. All of it is valid. All of it feeds us. And we’ll never forget it.

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