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After a pandemic-induced hiatus, the Ammerman Center for Art and Technology’s biennial symposium returned to Connecticut College in full color this November.
By Amy Martin | Photos by Bob MacDonnell
oing on three years since “social distancing” entered the lexicon and live performance took a reluctant intermission, artists, technologists and scholars from around the world gathered on the Connecticut College campus to challenge perspectives on what it means to engage, assemble and participate.
The visually stunning and thought-provoking results were on full display at “CONTACT: The 17th Biennial Symposium on Arts and Technology,” held Nov. 10-12.
“In the contemporary vocabulary, ‘contact’ is something to be avoided in physical interactions or something perhaps just out of reach in our remote relationships with others. Contact also contains the promise of new and continued engagement within communities and among disparate institutions and so-called disciplines,” said Nadav Assor, the Judith Ammerman ’60 Director of the Ammerman Center and an associate professor of art at Conn.
The symposium featured dozens of performances, installations, workshops and fully immersive exhibitions addressing topics ranging from climate change to space exploration, social protest to communal healing rituals, and sustainable food systems to material culture.
In the spirit of contact, collaboration and inclusivity—and in lieu of a traditional keynote—the symposium featured four commissioned artists: Centre for Emotional Materiality, Anonymous Ensemble, Ensemble Pamplemousse and Joel Ong. The artists spent the week leading up to the event building and finalizing their pieces, meeting with students and members of the local communities, hosting workshops and guest-teaching classes.
“The students jumped in and helped with everything from ushering to setting up in the gallery to working alongside our commissioned artists,” said Steve Luber, associate director of the Ammerman Center. “The understanding of arts and tech not only as the presentation, but the process, is so vital, and the students really saw what it means to put in the work and commitment required in such a field.”
Giorgi Chikvaidze ’24, a psychology major and Ammerman Center scholar, had the opportunity to work all week with Anonymous Ensemble in the Athey Center for Performance and Research at Palmer Auditorium.
“It surprised me how easy it was to bond and communicate with commissioned artists. Not only were they great artists, they were humble, sweet, simply wonderful people. They were excited to hear our thoughts, and all of them were more than glad to chat with us about our own projects and give advice,” Chikvaidze said.
“It meant the world to me to be able to do all these things. Working in a professional environment with commissioned artists, I was troubleshooting their problems, exchanging information and simply growing day by day. Events like the Ammerman symposium are crucial for networking and have a profound impact on the college experience.”