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Press Release

Eric Sloss

Jonathan Potts

For immediate release:
July 20, 2005

Carnegie Mellon's Center for the Arts in Society Will Host Conference To Investigate the Relationship between Art and Time

PITTSBURGH—The Center for the Arts in Society (CAS) at Carnegie Mellon University is proud to announce "(Im)permanence: Cultures In/Out of Time," an interdisciplinary, international conference on the relationship between art and time, to take place October 13-16 at Carnegie Mellon's Oakland campus, and at the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

"(Im)permanence" will bring together scholars, curators, artists and performers to address questions of permanence through panels, exhibits and performances, with the goal of achieving lively dialogue across disciplines, cultures and media. The keynote speaker will be Alan Lightman, novelist, essayist and physicist. Lightman will speak at Kresge Recital Hall at Carnegie Mellon at 8 p.m. Friday, October 14. The keynote lecture is free and open to the public. The price to attend the conference is $25 and $10 for students with ID.

"Impermanence certainly suggests issues that are of major importance today. New techniques for maintaining and storing materials challenge conceptions of authenticity and compel a reconsideration of the artist/creator's original understanding of the form and endurance of her own work," said Judith Schachter, director of the Center for the Arts in Society.

"Impermanence also recalls the larger political issues of honoring sacred sites, respecting the rights of a culture to its own creative expressions, and the role of national and international institutions in preserving objects of value," Schachter said.

The conference will feature numerous performances, among them Sreyashi Dey, performing the Odissi style of Indian classical dance, and a string quartet performance followed by a talk by Robert Cogan and Pozzi Escot, co-authors of "Sonic Design: the Nature of Sound and Music."

Dey is a 2001 recipient of the Harry Schwalb Excellence in the Arts Award in the "To Watch in Dance" category, awarded by Pittsburgh Magazine, and was recently named one of the Top 50 Cultural Forces in Pittsburgh by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Cogan and Escot are internationally recognized experts in the relationship between music and such disciplines as math and physics, in addition to being accomplished composers.

The conference will also feature exhibits such as Geoffrey Baum's "Special Treatment," an immersive and interactive virtual reality piece that received the Best Immersive Virtual Reality Environment award at the 2004 Indiana IDEAS Festival, and Marina Mangubi's "Music on the Bones," a portfolio of prints based on the story about recordings of Western music, including Benny Goodman and George Gershwin, that were pressed on discarded x-rays in Eastern Europe in the aftermath of World War II.

"(Im)permanence" also will host academic panels that use art history, anthropology, cultural studies, history, archaeology and film studies, to name a few, to address such issues as the relationship between art and time, the ethics of conservation, the challenge of preserving digital and new media, the paradox of curating ephemera, and the roles and responsibilities of memorials. Questions to be discussed include:

  • How can new media be effectively and reliably documented? Does it violate the spirit of the piece, and if so, is such a violation justifiable?
  • Does it violate the spirit of performance art, process art or self-destroying art to render these permanent through documentation?
  • How do creators, conservators, historians, spectators and audiences understand "continuity"?
  • Established in 2000 to bridge the gap between the College of Fine Arts and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Center for the Arts in Society has reinvigorated humanities scholarship at Carnegie Mellon through its critical examination of cultural theory and arts practice. Responding to the demand—on campus and off—for interdisciplinary exchanges between the arts and the humanities, the center has served as the home for research collaborations among faculty in different fields, innovations in the curriculum and new scholarly approaches. For more information, please visit or contact Judith Schachter at 412-268-3239 or


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