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Gray Area Festival – Discussing the Impact of Art and Technology on Culture


In two weeks the inaugural edition of the Gray Area Festival takes place in San Francisco. Fusing a conference, performances, workshops, and an exhibition, the event gathers artists and philanthropists to discuss the impact of art and technology on culture.

Several weeks back CAN announced the homeward stretch of Gray Area’s #ReviveTheGrand  fundraising drive, now we enthusiastically share news about the inaugural edition of the Gray Area Festival—which takes place May 21st–24th. Launching to celebrate the opening of their brand new space (a freshly renovated Art Deco cinema dating back to 1940), the festival will see artists and related stakeholders undertake a broad consideration of media art and contemporary creativity.

Bolstered by keynotes by Eric Rodenbeck (Stamen Design), Jane Metcalf (a co-founder of Wired), Casey Reas (Processing & UCLA’s DMA program) and Paola Antonelli (MoMA) the conference portion of the program will deliver a fast-paced program of short talks. Refreshingly, speaker selection extends beyond the expected artists and designers, and includes curators, entrepreneurs, software developers, and—of course—some folks from Silicon Valley. Other presenters include Olof Mathé, Michael Naimark, Sha Hwang, Bradley G. Munkowitz, and Zach Lieberman.

Beyond lectures, there are a raftload of participants contributing to panels on topics ranging from patronage to new modes of distribution. CAN will be co-presenting two of these discussions, which will be moderated by our Contributing Editor Greg J. Smith. These include a critical reflection on the (suddenly ubiquitous) ‘cultural incubator’ model with Sarah Brin (Autodesk Pier 9 Workshop), Brady Forrest (Highway1), and Morehshin Allahyari, and a conversation about creative frameworks with David Zicarelli (Cycling ’74), Mary Franck, Dan Moore (F.A.T. Lab), and Micah Elizabeth Scott.

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Balancing theory with practice, the festival will also feature a number of creative coding workshops led by Ian Heisters, Jonathan Dinu, Mary Franck, Micah Elizabeth Scott, Ryan Alexander, Toby Schachman, and Zach Lieberman, as well as musical performances by Lustmord, Alessandro Cortini, Shigeto, and Teebs (with live visuals, of course). Finally, the event will also host F.A.T. GOLD: San Francisco, a retrospective exhibition showcasing work from the ever-irreverent Free Art & Technology (F.A.T.) Lab curated by Lindsay Howard.

Gray Area Festival | Tickets