community orgs for arts and technology?
August 1, 2014 6:14 PM   Subscribe

Which organisations, companies, community groups, etc support and encourage embracing both arts/humanities AND STEM (especially technology)?

I have strong interests and experience in both the arts and tech worlds, but I hardly ever see any crossover between the two group. My artist peers tend to posit technology and the Internet as The Enemy/Competitor (I was at an event run by a community arts organisation where one of the organisers said "we are analogue mediums in a digital world and I just about cringed") or find it really confusing. Even at a recent conference about literature/publishing and the digital world there was still a lot of anti-tech sentiment.

The tech world, on the other hand, finds the arts baffling/incomprehensible/meaningless: if you're not a concept artist or an advertising maker, you're not really useful. I volunteered at a conference for casual games developers and you could see the moment a lot of attendees glazed over when I told them I was an artist and writer (mostly because I am not monetizable, apparently).

I am looking for avenues that embrace both/all approaches, rather than pitting them against each other. I recently went to an Arts/Tech meetup in San Francisco that was pretty cool, and I'm looking for more along those lines. I'm especially interested in approaches that involve performance art or writing, since those are particular areas I don't see a lot of crossover with techwise asides from blogging or social media.

I'm also really interested in educational projects that combine both arts and tech, particularly those geared towards girls. A lot of the kids-tech or girls-tech projects are mostly geared towards getting them further involved into the STEM fields: there didn't seem to be a lot that allowed for kids who were predominantly artsy but who wanted to get involved with tech somehow. On the other hand, a lot of kids-art organisations don't really have a lot to do with tech. I heard about Girls Make Games (a summer camp for young girls to learn how to make computer games) and appreciated that there was a part of the program which involved storytelling, art, and music design, and would love to hear about more.

Specific names of people that combine the two well are helpful too. I know about digital humanities; any specific leads on people/projects/organisations are appreciated.
posted by divabat to Society & Culture (12 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Techne, for STEM and music. (Disclaimer: one of the founders is a friend.) One of the things they do is collaborations with Girls Rock, teaching non-traditional electronic music techniques.

ISEA puts on yearly conferences on art and technology, in a different city around the world each year.

EYEO Festival and Inst-Int are yearly conferences on design, technology, and art (particularly installation art at Inst-Int).
posted by moonmilk at 6:22 PM on August 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

What about Girl Scouts? They have a Digital Art badge and an Innovation badge.
posted by bleep at 6:22 PM on August 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

YLEM - Artists Using Science and Technology is based in San Francisco, but I think they've pretty much faded out in the last decade or so.

Leonardo - The International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology has been around forever and publishes some prestigious journals.

BEAM Camp combines all of the above for kids along with construction and fabrication and performance and all kinds of wonderful weirdness.
posted by moonmilk at 6:29 PM on August 1, 2014

Seconding the Girl Scouts. :)
posted by heathrowga at 7:08 PM on August 1, 2014

Public libraries are getting all into STEAM*. At my small branch we have programmes blending art and technology as well as developing programmes targeted at underserviced groups (girls, New Canadians, low-income kids). Our programmes are free.
*STEAM is STEM with the addition of art
posted by saucysault at 7:37 PM on August 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

I work for a science organization. There is absolutely a growing amount of interest, from both scientists and artists, in bridging the fields. I actually help plan art exhibits related to science. I'm going to rattle off a bunch of ongoing STEM to STEAM things I know about and maybe you can find a way to get involved with one of them.

The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) has a strong emphasis on STEM to STEAM. Their Maharam Fellows focus on STEAM and social change. There's a Congressional STEAM caucus. Both the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Endowment for the Humanities are actively pursuing connections between science and art.

UCLA started the Art | Sci Center. Arizona State has the Center for Science and Imagination. The National Academies Science and Entertainment Exchange connects those in the entertainment industry with scientists so they can create entertainment around science. There is also the Studio for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon and the MIT Center for Arts, Science and Technology.

If you're in the bay area, I'm sure you've been to the Exploratorium? The New York Hall of Science also does a lot to draw connections between science and art. Princeton University holds an annual Art of Science competition. The NSF Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge also highlights the best science art.

You should definitely check out,, and the Network for Sciences, Engineering, Arts, and Design. The network in particular might be what you're looking for.
posted by kat518 at 9:30 PM on August 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

Public Access Television. It sounds like a joke, but it really is not. Almost all video production is done with computers in some way today (from CG to editing to color correction to broadcast).

It is also a vital social and political need, a way to put out something without a commercial message attached to it.

(Open disclosure, I work for a Public Access television station)
posted by daq at 9:35 PM on August 1, 2014

Saturday Academy, in Portland OR, offers classes in game design, computer art and animation, LEGO robotics, Photoshop, concept art, 3D modeling, etc. for elementary-high school students. Some of the classes are specifically for girls.

Obviously they're only in Portland, but it's a great organization that could be a model for what you're looking for.
posted by majesty_snowbird at 12:05 AM on August 2, 2014

Robot musical instruments from the Botball autonomous robotics tournament for middle- and high school kids?
posted by colin_l at 12:55 AM on August 2, 2014

ASCI is a NYC based international group focused on art + science.
posted by leslies at 6:02 AM on August 2, 2014

The whole MAKE media empire does this. So does Adafruit. So do a lot of hackerspaces -- I can personally vouch for HeatSync labs in Mesa, AZ, but I see lots of other similar output coming out of other hackerspaces.
posted by Alterscape at 8:47 AM on August 2, 2014

Corvallis, Oregon holds an annual festival called Da Vinci Days which celebrates STEM and the arts and the intersection thereof.

The highlight of the festival is the Kinetic Sculpture Race, where people build amphibious self-powered vehicles that are also themed art cars. I think there's an electric car version now, too.
posted by dialetheia at 10:05 AM on August 2, 2014

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