This event is held in conjunction with the CounterCurrent Festival and our Performing the Neighborhood initiative, a partnership between Project Row Houses and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts at the University of Houston.
Festival Artist, Movement V: Ballroom
Kevin Beasley’s sculptures evolve out of an inventive, performative process that incorporates found materials, including the artist’s own clothing, into composite objects. His sculptures trace the movements and actions of the artist’s body while also themselves resembling bodies or flesh, though fragmented or dismembered. Reworking traditions of process art and assemblage, Beasley’s sculptures are rooted in the personal and particular contexts of their materials and in the urban, postindustrial landscapes in which the artist has lived. Building on his experiments in materiality and sound, Beasley has developed a performance and a site-specific sculptural and sound environment activated by the movement of visitors for the Historic Eldorado Ballroom.
Dr. Jose Luis “Pepe” Contreras-Vidal
Professor, UH Cullen College of Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Dr. Contreras-Vidal is helping paraplegics walk using only the power of their thoughts. Contreras-Vidal’s work centers around brain-machine interface systems, or BMIs, which connect a user’s brain signals with a robotic exoskeleton or prosthetic limb. Algorithms written by Contreras-Vidal interpret a user’s brain activity – in this case, their intention to walk or move a limb – into movement of the prosthetic limb or exoskeleton. The overall goal of Contreras-Vidal’s research is to unravel the mysteries of the human brain through reverse-engineering – a quest that has brought him into art and children’s museums, elementary schools, dance performances and other public art displays to monitor the patterns of brain activity of hundreds of freely-behaving art creators and observers all over the world.
Alan Lucien Øyen
Festival Artist (winter guests), Simulacrum
Simulacrum is a visceral, multi-disciplinary performance incorporating the familial formality of Kabuki; the prideful energy of flamenco, and the instinctive physical language of contemporary dance that weaves together the true histories of two extraordinary dancers. Seventy-six-year-old Shōji Kojima was given away to his uncle as a baby. His mother had no choice in the matter. The years of coming to terms with this fact have been shaped by the fierce determinism of flamenco, which drew him to Spain in 1966. Daniel Proietto was born to disadvantaged circumstances in Buenos Aires. His struggle to find a form that adequately expressed his own experience, includes the rigorous demands of ballet, contemporary, and Kabuki dance. He now continues to study the onnagata roles with the Fujima family in Tokyo; a very rare privilege for one born outside of Japan. A dream play; an encounter of intercultural complexity and frustrated desire, a passionate stab in the dark at the reasons for making art.
Dr. Cunjiang Yu
Professor, UH Cullen College of Engineering, Mechanical Engineering
Dr. Yu’s Research group researches and develops soft robotics and transient, flexible, and stretchable electronics. Their work includes adaptive electronic camouflage systems inspired by the ability of cephalopods (the animal family that includes squid, octopi and cuttlefish) to read their environment and adapt to their surroundings. They’ve contributed to the development of stretchable smart skin devices by designing “epidermal” photonic devices that combine colorimetric temperature indicators with wireless stretchable electronics in order to sense and visualize humidity and temperature in order to monitor the vital health signals of the wearer.
ABOUT CURRENT CONVERSATIONS
Across disciplines but along parallel lines of inquiry, Current Conversations open up CounterCurrent projects to a range of perspectives – including yours.
Artist Carrie Schneider organizes a series of public conversations between CounterCurrent festival artists and University of Houston faculty experts from a range of disciplines.
Each hour-long, lunchtime talk kicks off with a rapid-fire PechaKucha followed by a relay of questions and answers among panelists, ending with an audience Q&A.
CounterCurrent festival artists across various artistic disciplines converse with experts from wide ranging disciplines at the University of Houston, including faculty experts from the Colleges of Architecture, Engineering, Business, Marketing, Technology, and Psychology, as well as the Law Center and Facilities Management Department.