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Film screening and reception will kick off a yearlong speaker series combining technology with the visual arts

Alex Gibney, an Oscar, Emmy, and Grammy award-winning documentary film director, writer, and producer, will be on campus Oct. 7 to discuss the creative process behind his filmmaking. This event is part of a yearlong speaker series bringing together artists and scientists to talk about their techniques for combining technology with the visual arts.

A screening of selected segments from Gibney’s films and a question-and-answer session will be held from 4-6 p.m. on the second floor of the Williams Visual Arts Building. A reception will follow on the first floor lobby. Throughout the day, Gibney will be meeting with students from various classes.

The speaker series is made possible by a grant from the Mellon Foundation through the efforts of Ed Kerns, Eugene H. Clapp II ’36 Professor of Art; Chun Wai Liew, associate professor and head of computer science; and Jim Toia, director of the art department’s Community-Based Teaching program.

“We are delighted to introduce our students to accomplished individuals who use forms of art and technology coupled with deep insights into our common humanity,” says Kerns. “The works they produce exemplify synthetic models for educationally advancing issues such as social justice, environmental sustainability, and cooperative approaches to problem solving.  The firsthand learning experiences exemplified by this series will be immeasurably valuable to our students.”

Other speakers will include Stacy Marsella, research associate professor of computer science at University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies, Oct. 27-29; sculptor Loren Madsen, Feb. 24-26; and Jonah Lehrer, author of Proust Was a Neuroscientist, April 7-8.

The founder of Jigsaw Productions, Gibney produced and directed one of the top-grossing documentaries of all time, the 2005 Oscar-nominated documentary Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. He wrote, directed, and produced the 2007 Oscar-winning documentary Taxi to the Dark Side, focusing on an innocent taxi driver in Afghanistan who was tortured and killed by his American captors at Bagram Air Force Base in 2002. Gibney also served as a producer for Martin Scorsese’s Emmy and Grammy award-winning multi-part TV series The Blues. His latest work is Magnolia Pictures’ Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, featuring Johnny Depp.

The speaker series has come about due to the success of the Emergent Patterns project, a multi-year collaboration between Kerns, Liew, and Elaine Reynolds, associate professor of biology and chair of neuroscience.

The project has allowed students from technical and artistic backgrounds to work together to produce artwork by exploring the complex patterns and processes that can emerge in visual structures. The culmination of this work will be on display in the Computation, Vision, and Emergence exhibition running Oct. 20 through Dec. 11 in the Williams Visual Arts Building.

Both the project and series are examples of the College’s commitment in the new strategic plan to excellence in the creative arts. This is an initiative that was further strengthened this year by the creation of the Maggin Family Creative and Performing Arts Fellowship program, which provides scholarships to allow students to pursue their interests and talents in the arts through special projects, internships, research, study abroad, and other activities.

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