Speaker: Lauren Hanson and Jeff Steward
The Harvard Art Museums was recently gifted more than seventy sketchbooks by artist Otto Piene (1928–2014), a pioneer in multimedia and technology-based art. Piene was long interested in optical perception and kinetic forces, resulting in a body of work that emphasizes collaboration and the intersections of art, science, and nature. Postdoctoral curatorial fellow Lauren Hanson and museum data specialist Jeff Steward share how they have coupled curatorial practice with computer science and data visualization to expose hidden stories, spawn new conversations, and transform our understanding of Piene’s artistic practice.
The temporary museum installation, Processing the Page: Computer Vision and Otto Piene’s Sketchbooks, offers a glimpse into Lauren and Jeff’s experimentation with human and AI-generated data—a preview of what will launch later this spring as a virtual exhibition and expansive digital resource, Animating the Page: Otto Piene’s Sketchbooks. Processing the Page is on view March 15-20, 2022 in the Harvard Art Museums Lightbox Gallery as part of the exhibition Curatorial A(i)gents | Living by Protocol: metaLAB in the Lightbox.
About the Presenters
Lauren Hanson is the Stefan Engelhorn Curatorial Fellow in the Busch-Reisinger Museum at the Harvard Art Museums (2019-2022). As a specialist in modern and contemporary art from Germany and the United States, she focuses on visual cultures in the post-WWII era, transatlantic networks of exchange, and 20th-century curatorial practices. Her research has received support from the Terra Foundation for American Art, the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Getty Research Institute. She received her A.B. from Duke University and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin.
Jeff Steward is Director of Digital Infrastructure and Emerging Technology at Harvard Art Museums. Jeff directs the museums on the use of a wide range of digital technology including collections databases, APIs, and AI. His areas of research include visualization of cultural datasets; open access to metadata and multimedia material; and data interoperability and sustainability. Jeff crafts bright and airy homes for data; Twitter bots to spread joy and spark conversations; game engines to explore new modes of storytelling; and online databases to gain a better understanding of how to contend with the relative uncertainty and instability of digital platforms.
About the Harvard Discovery Series
Formerly known as The Digital Futures Discovery Series, the Harvard Discovery Series is a collaboration between Cabot Science Library and the Harvard University Digital Scholarship Group (DSSG). This event series brings scholars on the frontiers of digital knowledge-making to a Harvard audience in an intimate and interactive setting.