In conjunction with its exhibitions and mission to bring contemporary visual art to campus, Emerson Contemporary presents an interdisciplinary series of Public Programs—artist talks, conversations, performances—that explores issues and ideas at the intersections of art, technology and society. In response to recent Black Lives Matter protests and public demands for social justice and racial equity, the theme for the 2020–21 academic year is art and activism.

Presented by Emerson Contemporary and supported by the School of the Arts, the series explores how art—physical and virtual—can help us re-imagine a more civically engaged and equitable society. Speakers will include a diverse range of practitioners across a wide variety of disciplines who are shaping the discourse around art, technology, and society.

Unless noted otherwise, most events are free and all events are open to the public.

For more information or if you wish to collaborate on a future program contact: Dr. Leonie Bradbury, Foster Chair of Contemporary Art, Theory, and Practice.

Upcoming Events

Art+ Tech+

As art and technology become more and more intertwined, many contemporary artists are adopting new types of media to create their work. From immersive storytelling, projection mapping, to generative animation, artists are using rapidly developing technologies to push the boundaries of their practices. 

Art+ Tech+ is a new series of virtual talks that combine a ‘traditional’ artist talk with a technical demonstration, followed by a discussion. Curated by VMA professors Rashin Fahandej and Dr. Leonie Bradbury, this event is presented by Emerson Contemporary and supported by the Department of Visual and Media Arts and the School of the Arts.

Chapter I: Public Encounters: Using New Media Technologies to Build Community (Spring 2021)

In part 1 of this 3-part public programming series, Pierre Friquet, Violeta Ayala and Pamela Hersch share how they use emergent technologies to build and connect new communities online and in person.

Digital Art by Pierre Friquet

Illustration credit: Daniel Zender

Wednesday, March 10, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Join artist and immersive interactive designer Pierre Friquet as he discusses VR, narrative design and traumatology. Via tools of fiction like world-building and innovation like social VR, Friquet explores how we can build connections and a sense of belonging in digital space. The talk is addressed to artists, designers, developers and psychologists, or whoever interested in seizing the opportunity of VR to create virtual worlds and online communities.

Pierre Friquet is a digital artist who creates immersive worlds. His intent is to make people reconnect with their body and sense of self through art and technology. Coming from a film background, Friquet focuses on creating content for the 3rd digital revolution, which is designing Reality through spatial computing. Passionate in virtual reality since 2010, he has designed more than a dozen XR experiences (interactive, fiction, documentaries, dome, music videos). His latest independent VR work is SPACED OUT, selected at Sundance New Frontier 2020. It’s an aquatic VR experience which uses the first waterproof VR headset by Ballast Technologies, that allows users to be submerged in a swimming pool while breathing from a snorkel. Artist’s website: https://pierrefriquet.net/ 


3D VR artwork by Violeta Ayala

Photo credit: Dan Fallshaw & United Notions film

Wednesday, March 17, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Join artist, writer, and film director Violeta Ayala as she discusses the making of “Prison X: The Devil and The Sun,” an immersive ‘play’ staged in VR created using the 3-D painting technology Tilt Brush. Set in Bolivia’s San Sebastian prison, “Prison X: The Devil and The Sun” immerses participants into the social dynamics of the prison while simultaneously placing them in a world of Incan and Quechan mythology.

Violeta Ayala is an award-winning filmmaker, writer, artist and technologist. She is the first Quechua member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Violeta's credits include the VR animation Prison X (2021) and the award-winning documentaries Cocaine Prison (2017), The Fight (2017), The Bolivian Case (2015) and Stolen (2009). Her films have premiered at A-List film festivals including Sundance and Toronto, distributed in cinemas, broadcasted on PBS, Channel 8, Señal Colombia, Ibermedia, World and online platforms such as Amazon Prime and The Guardian. She has won over 50 awards including a Walkley (Australia’s Pulitzer) and nominations for the IDA (Los Angeles), Rory Peck (London), Platino (Panama) and Fenix (Mexico). Artist website: www.violetaayala.com.


Light artwork by Pamela Hersch

Photo credit: Aram Boghosian

Wednesday, March 31, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Join experimental video artist and musician Pamela Hersch as she discusses light as a public intervention in urban spaces and her use of the open tool suite TouchDesigner to create dynamic projection mapping installations.

Pamela Hersch is a Boston-based, multidisciplinary artist originally from Mexico. Her primary focus is at the intersection of art and technology. In her projection-mapping and video artwork, Hersch plays with properties like time, scale, texture, color, juxtaposition of raw footage with graphics, and the combination of organic and artificial elements to tell a story and to transform spaces. She has collaborated with producers, musicians, and dancers, aiming to represent their distinct sounds and personality by creating visual content across a spectrum that includes photography, music videos, lyric videos, and live show visuals. Artist’s website: http://pamelahersch.com/ 

All events are free to attend and require registration at www.emersoncontemporary.org.