Event Recap: Intersection of Technology, the Arts and Science in Redwood City

At International Arts + Mind Lab (IAM Lab), we’re focused on innovation at the intersection of the arts and neuroscience, and we know that innovation comes from bringing scientists and artists together to foster dialogue and share findings with a broader community.

Last week, IAM Lab Executive Director Susan Magsamen joined a panel at Technology, Art and Science (TAS), a discussion-oriented program that brings together esteemed professionals from different communities to discuss the benefits of interdisciplinary collaboration. More than 200 attendees interested in technology, the arts and science attended the March 16th event at GSVLabs in Redwood City, California. The evening’s activities included a medley of individual talks along with a moderated panel discussion and audience Q&A.

The panel brought together six thought leaders from the worlds of technology, arts and science. Andy Cunningham, Silicon Valley PR legend and founder of Cunningham Collective, served as a moderator and panelist alongside Anna Sidana, the founder of TAS. The panel also included IAM Lab Executive Director Susan Magsamen, Innocean Worldwide Chairman Bob Isherwood, noted architect Scott Paterson and SFMOMA Associate Curator Deena Chalabi.

This first talk in the TAS series was focused on promoting critical thinking and creative problem-solving through collaboration between the rich disciplines of technology, art and science.

The discussion covered topics ranging from the purpose of art to the possibility of art created by intelligent machines. A key theme of remarks was the importance of acting on these ideas, and panelists encouraged event attendees to continue the important discussion about the value of the intersection of technology, art and science in their own lives.

The day was marked by notable quotes and big ideas:

“The intersection of art and tech is all about making the impossible possible” — Andy Cunningham

At the beginning of the event, panelists made the case that making the impossible a reality in any discipline requires both creativity and technical prowess. Moderator Anna Sidana noted that this intersection blurs the lines between disciplines, claiming that “every scientist is also an artist.”

Isherwood used an example of his own work in film entitled “Beauty,” as a successful intersection between art and science. The film blended technical expertise and artful creativity to show how the seemingly impossible can be achieved. As Isherwood explained, “That’s what artists do: They push technology.”

“All children are born artists; the problem is remaining an artist.” — Bob Isherwood

There was clear agreement among the panelists that art, science and technology are not nearly as valuable on their own. They also agreed that our modern education system does not sufficiently value the arts.

Paterson referred to the renewed emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in education and the exclusion of art from that cross-disciplinary focus. Panelists agreed that art inspires creativity, a necessary ingredient of innovation in any discipline, and should be prioritized alongside STEM in classrooms. They pointed to the recent introduction of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) in academia as an important example of this type of intersectionality. Still, they agreed, more needs to be done through education at a young age to emphasize the value of art over a lifetime.

“Creativity is messy. We need all the help we can to solve that.” — Susan Magsamen

During the discussion, the panelists addressed the fact that art, like science, is fundamentally trying to solve a universal issue through creative experimentation. Where a scientist might attempt to cure a disease using innovative methods, artists seek to express emotion in new ways with similar ingenuity.

The urgency of emotion expressed through Jackson Pollock’s unique form of abstract expressionism was explained by Isherwood as an example of the evolution of unfiltered artistic expression through technique. He pointed to Pollock’s raw technique of flinging paint on canvas as an answer to the problem of expressing visceral emotion in art. Magsamen alluded to the same level of requisite messiness in her analysis. Our Executive Director further pointed out that artists use scientific techniques to create and refine their designs, using elements of science and technology in everything from color palette to type of brush stroke.

This discussion served as a great opportunity to explore the productive and fascinating intersection between technology, art and science. We at IAM Lab look forward to incorporating these impactful lessons in our work and sharing them with our growing neuroaesthetics community.

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