CHASTE: The Center for Hybrid Art Science Technology Experimentation

The 1960s saw the burgeoning of hybrid art-science-technology experimentation embodied in the creation of new kinds of artwork and support for them from research facilities such as MITís Center for Advanced Visual Studies (which was the first of its kind, established in 1968) and Carnegie Mellonís STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, as well as related individual and corporate-sponsored undertakings such as Billy Kluver/Robert Rauschenbergís EAT and Xerox PARCís Pair Program, respectively. (Related initiatives also exist outside the United States, including IRCAM in Paris, Gifu in Japan, and ZKM in Germany.) Such facilities bring together artists, scientists, technologists and (sometimes) community members to create pioneering research-based artwork. In the case of the STUDIO, these range from environmental reclamation projects to multi-media, educational presentations for domed planetariums. (See "The Archive" below for a list of the artists/projects and kinds of materials that will be incorporated within the online archive.)

These hybrid efforts have always remained outside the commodity-driven, mainstream art world. Yet the history of twentieth-century art is the history of boundary breaking and blurring. The twenty-first century brings unprecedented interest in the new hybrid social and creative environment resulting in the centrality of digital methods to contemporary arts practices. Ironically, this expanded interest has not been accompanied by expanded interpretive information. Without the online archiving and distribution of precious historical materials from such hybrid arts-research centers, how can todayís technologically oriented students learn about the hybrid-art-science-technology experimentation of the past? How can instructors teach this material without these resources? And, within the ecosystem that is the art world, how can critics and scholar respond to innovative art without intellectual grounding in this tradition? (The impending crisis in the art-research milieu was underlined in May 2000 by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allenís closing of Interval Research, which had employed artists from its founding in 1992.)

A timely and important opportunity exists now to foster community and collaboration among scholars and critics, artists and audiences, public institutions and the private sector through the creation of CHASTE. Carnegie Mellon Universityís traditional focus as an institution that supports the cross-fertilization of arts and technology among disciplines, and its unparalleled technical and intellectual resources make it the ideal place for this initiative to be "grown"--both as an archival site for proof of its intellectual and technical concepts, and as the center of a distributed network of institutions and programs.

CHASTE is an online center for the documentation and archiving, interpretation, and presentation of hybrid art-science-technology experimentation, both past and present. Its nexus is a collaboration between the University Libraries, STUDIO for Creative Inquiry and School of Art. It will employ both the art-historical and new-media expertise of CHASTEís director and senior researcher working in consultation with library staff and supported by STUDIO staff, to utilize new, access-enhancing technology with innovative search tools developed by the University Libraries and capable of searching across a variety of databases. (A physical archive will also be created for scholars, see "The Archive" below.) CHASTE will provide:

  • an outreach and education model of state-of-the-art access to this material for varied publics, including faculty and students;
  • an interface model for the digital-era libraryís online presentation of all visual materials;
  • and an application of the universityís utilization of its technical research in service of its goals of knowledge-creation and bridging of the arts/technology divide.
CHASTE is the first cultural resource center conceived to reach out to--and to develop--varied audiences of students, artists, critics, historians, educators, and the "general public" by interpreting and building upon its archive foundation. It is a gateway to a fragmented, precious, ephemeral and little-known corpus of knowledge. Befitting both the hybrid, digital era and the terrain that CHASTE explores, it will ultimately assume the simultaneous and hybrid character of:
  • an archive;
  • the center of a network of hybrid, multi-disciplinary organizations like the STUDIO;
  • an electronic publisher of original, interpretive material.
The Archive:
A key part of the CHASTE proposal is the creation of an online archive through the digitization of the records and project documentation amassed by the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry. The high-quality digitization will capture the artifactual values of the original projects and innovative DIVA software will enable researchers the ability to search and display across the various digital formats. In addition to creating an online archive, the libraries will store and administer the STUDIOís physical archive for patrons with research needs. Carnegie Mellon University Libraries possess considerable experience and expertise in digitizing technologies and workflow, including the development of scanning hardware and software, and procedures for verifying image quality and metadata. Many of the existing technologies that will be used or adapted for this project were developed at Carnegie Mellon.

Physical materials that will be archived will include documentation of collaborative decision making processes (in the form of records of teams meetings and correspondence), in addition to documentation (or in some cases presentation) of artworks (in the form of image, video and/or sound files.)

Research Fellows at the STUDIO whose works will be documented in the archive include (academic positions refer to Carnegie Mellon University, unless otherwise noted):

  • Omer Akin, Professor, School of Architecture
  • Robert Atkins, Microsoft Research Fellow, CHASTE, The Hybrid Series
  • Bob Bingham, Associate Professor, School of Art, Nine Mile Run Greenway Project
  • Charlee Brodsky, Associate Professor, School of Design, Pittsburgh: A City Seen (CD-ROM project)
  • Lowry Burgess, Professor, School of Art
  • Yang Cai, Senior Scientist, Carnegie Mellon Research Institute, Computer Visual Learning
  • Ping Cao, Research Fellow, Loaded Gesture.
  • Tim Collins, Nine Mile Run Greenway Project, 3 Rivers 2nd Nature
  • Peter Coppin, Big Signal, EventScope
  • Roger Dannenberg, Senior Research Computer Scientist, Department of Computer Science, Tracking the Human Brain
  • Rob Fisher, Senior Research Artist, School of Art, Tracking the Human Brain
  • Stephanie Flom, Artists and Gardens
  • Frank Garvey, Art and Robotics Research Fellow, Robotics Institute
  • Paul Glabicki, Professor, Studio Arts Department, University of Pittsburgh
  • Reiko Goto, Nine Mile Run Greenway Project, 3 Rivers 2nd Nature
  • Jeffrey Jacobson, Virtual Pompeii
  • Annabelle Joseph, Associate Professor, School of Music, Rhythm Tutor
  • Heidi Kumao, Microsoft Research Fellow
  • James McClelland, Co-Director, Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, Tracking the Human Brain
  • Michael Mateas, Terminal Time
  • Patricia Maurides, Director of BHA/BSA Programs, College of Fine Arts, Tracking the Human Brain
  • Suzy Meyer, Landscape Architect, 3 Rivers 2nd Nature
  • Keisuke Oki, Director, Green Marketing Institute Co. and Lecturer, Nagoya University
  • Richard Pell, Nine Mile Run Greenway Project, EventScope
  • Simon Penny, Associate Professor of Art and Robotics, Traces
  • John Pollock, Associate Professor, Biological Sciences, Tracking the Human Brain
  • Seth Riskin, Research Fellow, Light Dance
  • George Roland, Professor, Department of Art, Allegheny College
  • Stelarc, Adjunct Professor of Art and Robotics
  • Joel Tarr, Caliguiri Professor, Department of History
  • Sue Thompson, plant biologist, 3 Rivers 2nd Nature
  • Paul Vanouse, Assistant Professor of Art, State University of New York at Buffalo, Tracking the Human Brain, Terminal Time, and Loaded Gesture
  • Faith Wilding, Director, Art Department, Carlow College, Sex and Gender in the Bio-tech Century
  • S.K. Woodall, Assistant Adjunct Professor, School of Architecture, Sustainable Landscape Architecture Program
  • Karl Fischer, Tracking the Human Brain, EventScope
  • Kathleen Stadterman Knauer, Water Quality Engineer, ALCOSAN, 3 Rivers 2nd Nature
  • Beth McCartney, Environmental Geoscientist, 3 Rivers 2nd Nature
Phase 1 Activities:
  • Begin the process of creating an online archive about the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry by processing, re-mastering and digitizing archival source material and creating an encoded archival documentation (EAD) finding aid.
  • Begin to build a database to house the online archive; provide innovative storage, search and retrieval software technologies (DIVA) with a customized user interface that is the result of a collaborative effort between the STUDIO, University Libraries and the School of Art.
  • Utilize formative evaluation techniques to determine student and faculty usersí interests and patterns of use before producing the entire archive
  • Establish a Board of Advisors comprising curators and museum directors, technology company arts-program heads, foundation officers, representatives of relevant university departments/disciplines, and hybrid arts research facilities to provide support, outreach, access and guidance for "growing" the CHASE initiative.
  • Initiate research to capture and represent interactive artworks in conjunction with the Informedia Digital Video Library project at Carnegie Mellon University. (See attached letter.)
  • Facilitate outreach by establishing a network of institutions and presenting organizations for the creation of public programming about the intellectual and historical issues raised by the archived material. (Appropriate institutions include the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Warhol Museum, MIT, Guggenheim Museum, National Museum of American Art, Regina Gouger Miller Gallery, Three Rivers Festival, New School University, Xerox PARC, Centre Pompidou, Gifu, ZKM.)
  • Establish pedagogical interfaces with the School of Art to utilize materials in the archive.
  • Convene a one-day meeting of peers--in partnership with an appropriate organization in late 2001-early 2002--to share information about the archives.
Phase 2 Activities:
  • Complete the digitization of the STUDIO archives and related collection activities.
  • Complete the transfer of materials into the database and test searching & retrieving mechanisms; complete the web interface design for publishing the digital archive on the Internet.
  • Invite others to expand the online archiveís content by contributing collections from other facilities, i.e., MITís Center for Advanced Visual Studies or Xerox PARCís Pair, many of which are currently struggling for existence or in transition from 20th to 21st century support paradigms.
  • Create a network of such institutions including museums and research facilities, foundations and corporations already interested in supporting such art.
  • Utilize this network to create and share knowledge and information, and to map the resources of this seemingly, ever-emerging, hybrid-arts field. The above goals will be achieved by the production or planning of:
    • oral- and video-histories of pioneers in the fields;
    • an online journal;
    • a collaborative and interactive timeline of multi-media/cyber art history;
    • awards for publication of online anthologies by critical thinkers in the field.
  • Provide raw data online to support and promote critical writing and scholarship about hybrid work.
  • Help integrate hybrid, multi-disciplinary artworks into the discourse of the commodity-based art "system" and art historical canon, and promote discussion and debate about the methodology and the nature of twentieth-century art-historical methods.
  • Present relevant artworks and documentary materials about the field--digital technology often collapses the distinctions among presentation, documentation and preservation of works--and publish such materials.
  • Provide interpretive resources to the widest possible audiences interested in contemporary cultural experimentation and expression.
  • Appendix 1: Personnel & project responsibilities
  • Appendix 2: Collection identified for archiving, digitization and storage
  • Appendix 3: Equipment needs
  • Appendix 4: Detailed budget
  • Appendix 5: Biographies of select personnel
Appendix 1: Personnel

Robert Atkins, CHASTE Project Director, (50%) will oversee project and coordinate all activities of staff and personnel.

Randall Packer, Senior Researcher, (35%), will provide support assistance and consult on interface and web design, online archive content and pedagogical applications.

Margaret Myers, Associate Director of the Studio for Creative Inquiry, will provide support assistance and consult on the capturing of metadata for unique materials to be archived.

Project Programmer (100%) will be managed by the University Libraries and will help design and implement additional tools, configure systems software and assemble and release prototypes.

Project Web Designer (30%) will design, create and maintain CHASTE web sites.

Senior Systems Manager (50%) will be managed by the University Libraries and will load and manage the multi-media archive.

Chris Kellen, Head, Library Information Technology, R&D (15%), will supervise the Project Programmer and Senior Systems Manager and oversee the application of library search technologies to the archive, help design the end user interface and tool set, and oversee the release of the prototypes assembled by the project programmer.

University Archivist (40%), will supervise archives staff and process, describe and create a finding aid using encoded archival documentation based on existing standards.

Gabrielle Michalek, Head, Digital Library Initiatives, (10%) will coordinate the digitization process of the STUDIO archives collection, ensure the quality of the metadata for the collection and manage the workflow for digitization of all archival documents and photographs.

Bella Gerlich, Co-Head, Arts and Special Collections, (5%) will coordinate the activities between the STUDIO personnel and University Libraries staff.

Maureen Dawley, Art and Drama Librarian, (5%) will consult on art subject issues or identifications as needed to help form the design of the end user interface of the archive.

Appendix 2: Collection identified to be digitized, archived and stored

  • 42.5 Linear feet of STUDIO documentation
  • 50 Videotapes of various lengths
  • 300 Slides
  • 100 Photographs
  • 10 Posters
  • 50 Flyers
  • 5 Publications
  • 10 Audio tapes
  • 5 Sculptures
Appendix 3: Equipment needs

Contributed: The University Libraries at Carnegie Mellon will make existing equipment available for the STUDIO/CHASTE digitization work, including:

  • Digital camera
  • Color flatbed scanner
  • Planetary scannner
  • Slide scanner
  • Video digitizer
Contributed by STUDIO:
  • NT Workstation for Project Programmer
Equipment to be purchased
  • Server
Appendix 4: Two Year/Two Phase Budget

Note: This budget covers the production of the CHASTE/STUDIO archive and the initiation of related programming.

Budget for CHASTE

Yr 1 Yr 2 In-kind Total Cash

STUDIO Project Director (50%) 30,000 30,000 60,000
Collaborator (35%)
Web Designer (30%)

Software Design/Manager (15%) 10,169 10,678 20,847
Programmer (100%/18 mons.) 25,000 52,500 77,500
Sr. Systems Manager (50%) 22,899 24,044 46,943
Univ. Archivist (15%) 14,000 14,700 28,700
Head, Digital Library Init (10%) 5,250 5,513 10,763
Art Librarians (10%) 7,427
Total Salary 107,318 137,435 244,753
Benefits (approx. 24.4%)

Total Personnel 133,504 170,969 304,473
Collection Processing and Digitization 35,455 35,455 70,910

Scanner 4,500
Server 12,000
2 NT Work Stations 7,600
Consultants Collaborator 20,000 20,000
Students/Grads (2) Web Designer/Proj Coordinator 18,000 18,000
Events/Panels 5,000 5,000 10,000
Supplies and Services 2,500 2,500 5,000
Travel 5,000 5,000 10,000
Subtotal Non-Personel 97,955 85,955 183,910
Total 231,459 256,924 488,383
Total Inkind 21,771

Inter campus support services 5% of STUDIO expenses239710 11,986
Grand Total 549,207
Amount Requested from Langlois 100,000

Appendix 5: Biographies of Select Personnel

Robert Atkins is an art historian, curator, former columnist for The Village Voice and author of several books about contemporary art including ArtSpeak: A Guide to Contemporary Ideas, Movements and Buzzwords and From Media to Metaphor: Art About AIDS. An authority on digital and interdisciplinary art, he is the founding editor of TalkBack! A Forum for Critical Discourse, the first American online journal about online art, and has served as editor-in-chief of the Arts Technology Entertainment Network, a start-up company producing arts programming for cable TV and the Internet. He is currently a Microsoft Research Fellow at Carnegie-Mellonís STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, art editor of The Media Channel, a non-profit online organization monitoring freedom of expression and international media coverage, and producer/editor of Artery: The AIDS-Arts Forum.

Randall Packer is a composer, media artist and producer/curator. He presented his collaborative installation "Mori," at the 1999 ICC Biennial Exhibition in Tokyo, and the "Telematic Manifesto," which was commissioned as part of the "Net_Condition" exhibition at ZKM the Center for Art and Media, in Karlsruhe, Germany. The former Director of the San Francisco State University Multimedia Studies Program and Director of Multimedia for the San Jose Museum of Art, he currently teaches at the Maryland Institute, College of Art. His book, Multimedia: From Wagner to Virtual Reality, will be published in 2001 and has been published as a website at Intel's www.ArtMuseum.Net.

Christopher Kellen, Head, Library Information Technology, R&D has over 14 years of professional experience in software development and project management. His research interests include digital archives, information retrieval, and novel methods for locating, navigating and using electronic information.

Gabrielle Michalek, Head, Digital Library Initiatives for the Carnegie Mellon University Libraries. She holds an M.A. in American History with Certification in Archival, Museum and Editing Studies. For 14 years she served as the University Archivist for Carnegie Mellon University, where in 1987 she established the first Archives for the University. From 1994 to 1999, Ms. Michalek was the Director of the HELIOS Project, and was responsible for the design and implementation of the digital historical archive of the congressional papers of the late Senator H. John Heinz III.

Bella Gerlich, Co-Head, Arts and Special Collections, possesses more than 12 years of academic library experience and holds a Masters degree in Public Management and B.A. in Painting and Printmaking. Ms. Gerlich brings to the project her considerable program management skills as well as her experience as a studio artist.

Maureen Dawley, Art and Drama Librarian, holds the degrees of M.L.S. and M.A. in Art History, as well as a B.F.A. in Painting and a B.A. in Art History. She has been practicing jointly within the disciplines of art, education and libraries since 1971. During that time she also co-founded the Artists of Rubber City, Akron OH, and has been an artist and curator. She is currently co-developing the Green Arts Web.

Contact Info:
Robert Atkins
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© 2002