Carnegie Mellon University

Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry

A New Cohort for Live Visuals

LIVE! Art&&Code! Brings Live Visuals to the Region

written by
Harrison Apple

When Nica Ross joined the STUDIO, heralding the first School of Drama faculty to direct the renowned center for interdisciplinary creative research, they drew on their wide breadth of experience in theater, academia, film production, community organizing and nightlife curation to plan the sixth iteration of Art&&Code dedicated to live performance, live visuals and open access skill sharing.

With their team, including Associate Director Harrison Apple, Business Manager Linda Hager, Program Administrator Bill Rodgers and Financial Assistant Carol Hernandez, they crafted a National Endowment for the Arts Media Arts application through the office of Creative Research, led by Jenn Joy Wilson and supported by Sara Deroy, Ashley Papale from the Office of Sponsored Projects and Aaron Martin, associate director of Institutional Partnerships. Their collective efforts secured $25,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts, one of only 1,300 projects awarded from that round.

A group of people talking near laptops

Taking on the challenge to uphold and reinterpret the festival/conference that was originated by the STUDIO’s previous director of 13 years, Golan Levin (School of Art), was no small accomplishment. Ross and the STUDIO designed a three-month program that would transform this former arts library turned creative research lab into a publicly accessible and eagerly anticipated center for skill sharing and community building among Pittsburghers engaged in all levels of nightlife and live performance.

LIVE! Art&&Code realized a collective hope to support Pittsburgh’s own scene of experimental media makers who have been DIYing immersive environments in clubs, galleries and theaters. This series of talks, workshops and performances built desperately needed new bridges across artistic communities, institutional resources and commercial partnerships.

A dynamic new experimental cohort emerged out of events celebrating the visiting artists and makers behind VDMX (David Lublin of NYC), Touchdesigner/Derivative (Zoe Sandoval & Matthew Ragan of Los Angeles) and Live Coders (Sarah Groff Hennigh-Palermo of Berlin, Olivia Jack of Berlin, Char Stiles — a CMU Alumna (BCSA 2018) — working in NYC and Boston, and Dr. Kate Sicchio of Richmond). Working with Pittsburgh-based artists Jules Malice (aka Malzof) — a CMU alum (BHA 2012) — and Cornelius “Neil” Henke III (aka ProjectileObjects), the STUDIO recruited a participant base of local artists working in live visuals, interested in expanding their knowledge and learning from each other.

A group of people observing computers and electronics equipment

Having ramped up excitement over the first two weekends, LIVE! Art&&Code’s finale (Dec. 1–3) gathered this community outside of CMU’s campus for a live projection performance stretching across Forbes Avenue and South Bouquet Street, projected through the windows of Viva Los Tacos (the former beloved “O” Hot Dog shop in the Oakland neighborhood). In partnership with the Oakland Business Improvement District’s GLOWLAND festival, our final four guest artists engaged the in-person audience with interactive live code visual tools to light up one of Pittsburgh’s busiest corners. This final weekend of LIVE! Art&&Code was anything but an ending. It unlocked curiosity and motivation across the Ohio River Valley for LIVE! Visual performance. Don’t fret if you couldn’t join us in person this time around, the STUDIO has documentation to share what we’ve learned and a bright future with public programming.