BAI Announces re|ACT: Symposium on Arts & Environment


March 3‒4, 2017, Granoff Center, Brown University

Highlights include keynotes by Natalie Jeremijenko and Mierle Laderman Ukeles, world premiere of anniversary edition of Steven Feld landmark composition, and exhibition of work by Chris Jordan

Providence, RI…The Brown Arts Initiative (BAI) at Brown University is presenting its first-ever public symposium on March 3‒4, 2017, at the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts on campus. re|ACT: symposium on arts and environment convenes an exceptional group of innovators and practitioners—artists, curators, designers, architects, writers, activists, and scholars among them—whose cutting-edge work engages a diversity of environments we inhabit. Symposium participants include individuals whose work responds to both natural and organic environments and to built and virtual constructions: sonic, visual, and performance artists using environmental data as a structural element, for example. 

BAI Faculty Director and Professor of Music Joseph Butch Rovan said, “We are honored to bring together a roster of pioneering figures for the first of BAI’s three-year programmatic themes: arts and, broadly defined, environment. As the BAI’s first major community event, re|ACT is emblematic of our core mission: to foster creative expression, enable experimentation, and support scholarship in a rich interdisciplinary environment. We look forward to welcoming our distinguished speakers to what will surely be a lively and wide-ranging set of discussions and presentations.”

Keynote speaker Natalie Jeremijenko is an artist, engineer, and inventor with a specialty in environmental and urban issues. She directs the Environmental Health Clinic + Lab which facilitates public and lifestyle experiments that can aggregate to create human and environmental health benefits. Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Agnes Gund Presidential Lecture keynote, is known for her feminist and service-oriented artwork. For over 36 years, she has been the official, unsalaried artist-in-residence at New York City’s Department of Sanitation.

re|ACT features the world premiere of a new surround-sound anniversary edition of Voices of the Rainforest by groundbreaking ethnomusicologist Steven Feld. The new immersive multi-channel soundscape composition celebrates the 25th anniversary of Feld’s surround-sound recording of a day in the life of the Kaluli people of Bosavi, Papua New Guinea. The seminal acoustic capture of a secluded ecosystem was the first commercial CD to fully mix ambient/environmental sounds and the human linguistic and musical inventions they inspired. Feld is also participating as a symposium panelist.

The event is free and open to the public. Advance registration is required. Tickets are valid for 10 minutes prior to the start of each event. Standby audience will be admitted on a first-come, first-served basis as space permits. For more information about the symposium including panelists' biographies, registration, location, and lodging go here. The schedule is as follows:

Friday, March 3

re|ACT: How Artists Engage the World
Visual artists and curators who respond to the world around them, whether they view environments as politicized, natural, or social

1:00‒2:30 pm

David Buckland, artist and environmental activist; Seitu Jones, artist, scenic designer, community activist; Amy Lipton, independent curator and co-director of ecoartspace; and Paul Villinski, visual artist; moderator Anne Bergeron, BAI managing director

re|BUILD: Water and Constructed Space
Architects and artists who use water in their designs in environmentally responsive ways

2:45‒4:15 pm

Manit Rastogi and Sonali Rastogi, co-founding partners of Morphogenesis; Shannon Scrafano, designer; Arturo Vittori, architect; moderator Sheila Bonde, Brown University professor of history of art and architecture (HIAA), professor of archaeology and HIAA chair

Keynote with Natalie Jeremijenko

4:30‒6:00 pm

Opening reception for the exhibition Chris Jordan / Message from the Gyre

6:00‒7:30 pm, Cohen Gallery

Presentation of Voices of the Rainforest

7:30‒8:30 pm

Saturday, March 4

re|SOURCE: Mediascapes
Sonic, visual, and performing artists using environmental data as a structural element of their work

10:00–11:30 am

Jennifer Gabrys, reader in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London; Lev Manovich, professor, The Graduate Center, City University of New York; Marko Peljhan, co-director of the University of California Institute for Research in the Arts; Andrea Wollensak,professor of art and media arts and technology, Connecticut College; moderator Lynne Joyrich, Brown University professor and chair of modern culture and media

re|SOUND: Sonic Ecologies
Sound artists, composers and sound ecologists who respond to and reveal the natural world through soundscape compositions and other sonic interventions

1:00–2:30 pm

David Dunn, composer, acoustic ecologist; Steven Feld, ethnomusicologist; Alan Nakagawa, sound artist; Tina Pearson, composer, performer; moderator Joshua Tucker, Brown University assistant professor of music

re|NEW: The Plastic Ocean
Visual artists, writers, and researchers whose work calls attention to and addresses the accumulation of plastic in our oceans

2:45–4:15 pm

Marcus Erikson, The 5 Gyres Institute; Chris Jordan, photographer and filmmaker; Pam Longobardi, professor of art, Georgia State University; Carl Safina, nature writer; moderator Jo-Ann Conklin, director, David Winton Bell Gallery, Brown University

Keynote Agnes Gund Presidential Lecture with Mierle Laderman Ukeles

7:30‒9:00 pm

Related Exhibitions and Events in the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts

Chris Jordan / Message from the Gyre

Cohen Gallery, Level 2

February 25‒March 24, 2017

In this exhibition of the artist’s photography and video, Chris Jordan addresses the international crisis of plastic waste, depicting an albatross colony on the remote Midway Atoll in the Pacific Ocean near the North Pacific Gyre, also known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The birds’ carcasses are full of plastic detritus mistaken for food. One work depicts two million plastic beverage bottles, the number used in the U.S. every fifteen minutes. Organized by Jo-Ann Conklin, director of the David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown, the exhibition is conceived as a call to action about runaway plastic pollution and its tragic repercussions. Jordan is also serving as a symposium panelist (see above—re|NEW: The Plastic Ocean).

Oscillator Pond: Analog Critters in a Digital Pool
A sound installation by Jim Moses

Atrium Gallery, Level 1

March 1‒April 2, 2017

Listening Room
Multi-channel acoustic ecology pieces

Kooper Studio, Level 4N

March 2‒4, 2017

Brown Arts Initiative
The Brown Arts Initiative (BAI) seeks to cultivate creative expression and foster an interdisciplinary environment where faculty and students learn from each another, and from artists and scholars in a wide range of fields from across the campus and around the world. Taking full advantage of the University’s open curriculum, the BAI builds on Brown’s reputation as a destination for arts exploration, contributing to cultural enterprise through the integration of theory and practice, with an emphasis on innovation and discovery that results from rigorous artmaking and experimentation.

re|ACT launches the first of the BAI's three-year programmatic themes—arts and environment—organized to address important contemporary questions; engage faculty and students across academic departments, the Providence community, and the general public; and contribute to ongoing interchange among internationally recognized artists, thought-leaders, and scholars beyond Brown.


Media contact:
Libby Mark or Heather Meltzer, Bow Bridge Communications, LLC, New York City; +1 347 460 5566;

Gillian Kiley, Writer for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Brown University, Providence, RI; +1 401 863 7287;   


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