Pitzer College Art Galleries and LACE present a symposium: Inside the Robot: Reconsidering Cybernetics after Juan Downey

Inside the Robot, 1970; Color pencil on paper; 22 1/2 x 30 in. (57.15 x 76.2 cm); Courtesy of the Estate of Juan Downey

Saturday, November 18, 2017
9:30 a.m.–3 p.m.
Benson Auditorium, Pitzer College
1050 N. Mills Ave., Claremont, CA 91711

In conjunction with the exhibition Juan Downey: Radiant Nature, part of the Getty-led Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative, Inside the Robot: Reconsidering Cybernetics after Juan Downey traces the various strands of Chilean artist Juan Downey’s practice through the lens of second-order cybernetics as evidenced in Downey’s Electric Sculptures, Happenings and Performances, and Life Cycle Installations. This symposium will present a series of challenging and diverse viewpoints on the subject of cybernetics as defined by systems of interaction between the human, non-human, machinic, and digital entities.

Symposium Program:

9:30 a.m.        Tea, Coffee, and Pastries

10 a.m.            Keynote Address by Julieta González—Juan Downey: From the Responsive Eye to the Thinking Eye

Julieta González will address the inscription of Juan Downey’s work within the different techno-utopias that marked the intersection between art and cybernetics in the 1960s and 1970s. Her talk touches upon issues such as generative aesthetics, algorithmic and computational approaches, the machine extensions of humans, feedback, and communication in Downey’s early work. González explores the connection to parallel investigations by groups such as Nouvelle Tendance, GRAV and E.A.T., Downey’s incursion into video, and the role that feedback and playback played in his works from the early ’70s, from the performative dimension of his video-dances to the affiliation to ideas advanced by publications such as Radical Software. She will also look at the writings of Paul Ryan and Marshall McLuhan in terms of the subversive potential of television and video envisioned by countercultural movements. Her talk will also chart the major shifts in Downey’s work that coincided with the demise of cybernetics and the shift towards semiotics and language in the late 1970s and early 1980s, that, in his particular case, were also driven by his questioning of the disciplines of ethnography and anthropology.

11 a.m.            Simon Penny—Happenings, Hallucinations and Homeostasis: The Technology Binge of the New York Artworld in the Cybernated, Psychedelic ’60s

Looking back from our contemporary techno-social context, it’s difficult to imagine life before iPhones, mobile computing, social media, texting, Skype, streaming video, GPS, location tracking and live navigation, VR, online gaming and all the other trappings of our high-speed broadband digital lifestyles. This talk will flesh out the techno-social context of the ’60s, specifically the ’60s art world, looking at the unlikely intersections of drug culture, cybernetics and the civil rights movement that blended into ’60s counterculture. Special emphasis will be placed on central concepts of the time and terms whose meaning has drifted or radically changed due to changes in technology, specifically the rise of digital computing in intervening decades.

Noon- 1 p.m.: Lunch

1 p.m.             Rodrigo Alonso—Juan Downey’s Multidimensional Art

From his early technological works, Juan Downey tackles art as a complex production. This complexity doesn’t point to the creation of sophisticated pieces but to the necessity of enriching the viewer’s experience. The intellectual environment of his time as well as some ideas that come from his Latin American roots help Downey build an art of multiple dimensions that resists being understood as a whole. This presentation seeks to dive analytically into some of those dimensions in order to ponder the singular poetics of the Chilean artist.

2 p.m.             Film screening of Beatriz da Costa’s Dying for the Other (2011-2012) followed by a short presentation on the work by Dr. Robert Nideffer

Dying for the Other (2011-2012) is Beatriz da Costa’s the last project before she passed away on December 27, 2012, at age 38. Dying for the Other is a triptych video installation, offering a parallel consideration of mice used in breast cancer research alongside scenes from the artist’s own life. Da Costa suffered from breast cancer and underwent intense medical treatment to combat the disease. Her installation addresses part of our collective social consciousness—pursuing the advancement of science and medicine, but doing so at the sacrifice of other “less intelligent” beings.


Biographical information:

Julieta González is Artistic Director at Museo Jumex. Previously she was Adjunct Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo, Senior Curator at the Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, and Adjunct Curator at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York. Between 2009 and 2012, she was Associate Curator of Latin American Art at Tate Modern. She was Curator of Contemporary Art at Museo Alejandro Otero (1999-2001) and Museo de Bellas Artes de Caracas from 2001-2003. Additionally, she was co-curator of the 2nd Trienal Poligráfica de San Juan, Latinoamérica y el Caribe with Jens Hoffmann and Beatriz Santiago. González has organized over 60 exhibitions including Memories of Underdevelopment at MCASD; A mão do povo Brasileiro and Playgrounds (with Adriano Pedrosa, Tomás Toledo and Luiza Proença) at MASP. At Museo Tamayo, Mexico City González curated: Stephen Willats: Man from the 21st Century (2015); Juan Downey: A Communications Utopia (2013); Rita McBride: Public Transaction (2013), and Jac Leirner: Functions of a Variable (2014). She has published numerous essays in exhibition catalogues and periodicals, including AfterallThe ExhibitionistFlash Art, and Parkett. She holds an MA in Cultural Studies from Goldsmiths, University of London, and was a Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellow at the Whitney Independent Study Program (1997-1998). Additionally, she studied architecture at the Universidad Simón Bolívar, Caracas and the École d’Architecture Paris-Villemin, in Paris.

Rodrigo Alonso has a Master’s Degree in Art Theory specializing in contemporary art and new media. Additionally, he is a researcher and theoretician in the field of technology-based arts and performance in relation to Latin American artists. He has published numerous essays and books on the subject, including In Praise of Low-Tech. History and Aesthetics of Technology-Based Art in America Latina (2016); Calibrating/Designing Contexts. Curatorial Practices for Technology-Based Arts (editor, 2009); Jaime Davidovich: Video Works (2004); and Muntadas. Con-Texts. A Critical Anthology (editor, 2002). As independent curator, he has organized exhibitions worldwide. Recent exhibitions include: Seeing is Not Believing (Paris, 2016); Transitio_MX (México, 2014); Pop, Realisms, and Politics. Brazil/Argentina 1960s (Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, 2012); Untimely Archeologies (Santiago de Chile, 2012); Situating No-Land (Philadelphia, 2011); and Tales of Resistance and Change (Frankfurt, 2010). In 2011, he curated the Argentine Pavilion at LIV Venice Biennale. He is a professor at the Universidad Nacional de las Artes (National University of the Arts), Buenos Aires, Argentina, and is an advisor for international art foundations.

Simon Penny is a professor of Electronic Art and Design at University of California at Irvine. He has worked at the intersections of computing and the arts for 30 years, building interactive systems that attend to embodied experience and gesture. His interactive, immersive and robotic installations, such as “Fugitive”, “Traces” and “Petit Mal” are sensitive to sensorimotor modalities of aesthetic response. He explore—through both artistic and scholarly work—dimensions of the fundamental problems encountered when machines for abstract mathematico-logical procedures are interfaced with cultural practices (such as aesthetic creation and reception), whose first commitment is to the engineering of persuasive perceptual immediacy and affect. These cultural practices mobilize sensibilities and non-propositional cognitive modalities alien to the technology and incompatible with its structuring precepts: the kinds of intelligence required by cultural practices—embodied and kinesthetic, situated and multi-modal. His book Making Sense:Cognition, Computing, Art and Embodiment is forthcoming from MIT Press. This book reviews computational and non-computational theories of cognition through the C20th and focuses on articulating a new aesthetic theory for interactive media, digital cultural practices, and the arts in general, which deploys contemporary embodied and post-cognitivist perspectives to provide a language for the discussion of cultural practices, attending to situated, embodied and enactive intelligences. He was director of A Body of Knowledge: embodied cognition and the Arts conference, UCI Dec 2016 (sites.uci.edu/bok2016) and An Ocean of Knowledge:pacific seafaring traditions, sustainability and cultural survival, UCI Oct 2017 (sites.uci.edu/OK17). Penny came to UCI in 2001 to establish the Arts Computation Engineering ACE interdisciplinary graduate program, which operated from 2003 -2011. Previously he was Professor of Art and Robotics at Carnegie Mellon, and European Professor of Interactive Environments. He was resident theorist on the faculty of the Cognitive Systems and Interactive Media Masters at Univerisity Pompeu Fabra Barcelona 2005-2013 and was Labex Professor at Université Paris 8 and ENSAD in 2014.

Beatriz da Costa (1974-2012) was an interdisciplinary artist and researcher. Participatory practice and interactions with non-academic publics represent a key component of her work. She is a former collaborator of Critical Art Ensemble and a co-founder of Preemptive Media, an arts, activism and technology group. Her work has been exhibited at national and international venues, including the Andy Warhol Museum, the Zentrum fuer Kunst und Medien in Germany, and the Natural History Museum in London. Her work has been written about in the New York Times, Reuters and the New Scientist. Da Costa was an Assistant Professor of Arts, Computation, Engineering at the University of California, Irvine.

Robert Nideffer is professor and head of the department of arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He holds a PhD in Sociology (1994) and an MFA in Computer Arts (1997), from the University of California, Santa Barbara. From 1998-2013 he was a Professor of Art at the University of California, Irvine. From 2005-2007 he served as Co-Director, and from 2007-2009 Director, of the Art Computation Engineering (ACE) graduate program, housed between the School of the Arts, the School of Information and Computer Science, and the School of Engineering. His work has been exhibited at a variety of national and international venues including the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte in Spain; the Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach, California; the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the 2002 Whitney Biennial. He has lectured extensively both inside and outside the academy, and his projects have been discussed in major media outlets including books, journal articles, television, the internet, film and radio.

This symposium is free and open to the public.

This program and the exhibition Juan Downey: Radiant Nature are part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin America and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles, taking place from September 2017 through January 2018 at more than 70 cultural institutions across Southern California.

Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA Latino American & Latino Art in LA





Major support for this program and exhibition is provided through grants from the Getty Foundation.

Additional Support:
Dirección de Asuntos Culturales, DIRAC, Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Embassy of Chile
Pasadena Art Alliance
Estrellita B. Brodsky
Consulate of Chile in Los Angeles

In-kind Support
Human Resources

This program is organized by Pitzer College Art Galleries and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE).

The Inaugural Curatorial Internship Project: Strands of Red

Strands of Red
Rachel Moszkowicz ’19

Opening Reception: Friday, April 28, 5 p.m.
Nichols Gallery, Broad Center, Pitzer College

Strands of Red is inspired by many of the ideas explored in the spring 2017 Faculty Art Show. Specifically, this exhibition addresses the ongoing and reciprocal relationship between artistic practice and natural processes.

Rachel is a sophomore at Pitzer College majoring in anthropology and environmental analysis.

Senior Art Thesis Exhibitions: Normalia

Marley Cohen, Gabrielle Das, Sean Fentress, Caleb Hynes Hoffmann, Rebecca Nathan, Elenore Simotas, Abigail Taubman, and Sachi Watase

April 28, 6-9 p.m.
Clocktower Lawn, Pitzer College

Abigail Taubman
April 28 – May13
Lenzner Family Art Gallery, Atherton Hall, Pitzer College


Emerging Artist Series #12: Distance In/Formation: Johanna Breiding, Rebecca Bruno, Yann Novak, and Willy Souly

Co-curated by Robert Crouch and Ciara Ennis

Lenzner Family Art Gallery
January 26 – March 30, 2017

Opening Reception: January 26, 5-7 pm

Distance In/Formation is a collaborative work by Los Angeles-based artists Johanna Breiding, Rebecca Bruno, Yann Novak, and Willy Souly that draws on landscapes in the distance between Los Angeles and Claremont.  Featuring two media artists and two dancers, the project focuses on the intersection of dance, video, sound, and aesthetics as a means to explore the extension of body in space. Inhabiting queer identities, the project creates a space in which different architectures, geographies, and subjectivities are manifested and extend beyond the physical constraints of site and the body itself.


Faculty Art Show: Tim Berg (Rebekah Myers), Sarah Gilbert, Tarrah Krajnak, Jessica McCoy, and Friends

Co-curated by Bill Anthes and Ciara Ennis

Nichols Gallery
January 26 – March 30, 2017

Opening Reception: January 26, 5-7 pm

This exhibition focuses on the legacy of the Pitzer College Art Field Group and its dedication to progressive ideas around environmentalism and art. Work made by Tim Berg (Rebekah Myers), Sarah Gilbert, Tarrah Krajnak and Jessica McCoy will be discussed in the context of work made by Carl Hertel, David Furman, Michael Woodcock, Kathryn Miller and Paul Faulstich that have contributed to the conversation.

Related Events:
Bill Anthes in conversation with Paul Faulstich
Friday, February 17 at 1:30 pm
Nichols Gallery, Broad Center, Pitzer College

Conversation with Tim Berg, Sarah Gilbert, Tarrah Krajnak and Jessica McCoy
Wednesday, March 1 at Noon
Broad Performance Space, Pitzer College

All events are free and open to the public.

The Faculty Art Show is generously supported by art + environment, a four-year project at Pitzer College funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Office of the Dean of Faculty, Campus Life Committee and Teaching and Learning Committee at Pitzer College.


VOLUME and Pitzer College Art Galleries present Goulden, a new collaborative project by Berlin based artists Sebastian Meissner and Emily Hochman.

This event will include an exhibition of the 11 unique album covers drawn by Hochman, and a talk/listening event with Meissner.

More information

One day only – April 21, 2016, 7:30 – 10 p.m.

VOLUME @ South of Sunset
1218 West Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Catalogue – Artspeak

Kang Seung Lee: Untitled (Artspeak?)
September 12 – December 11, 2015
Curated by Ciara Ennis
Pitzer College Art Galleries
56 pages, with color reproductions, 11.75” x 9.75”
ISBN: 978-0-9829956-9-3
Essays by Ciara Ennis, Leslie Dick, Jen Hutton
Catalogue design by SoYun Cho
Photography by Ruben Diaz

The Ocelots of Foothill Boulevard: Mark Dion, Jessica Rath, Dana Sherwood

Curated by Bill Anthes and Ciara Ennis
Pitzer College Art Galleries
January 23 – March 31, 2016

Opening Reception: Saturday, January 23, 3-5 p.m.

Photo Gallery of the Opening Reception

Environmental scientists have begun to refer to our current era as the anthropocene, a new geological epoch in which human activities have become the primary shapers of the earth’s environment and ecological systems, producing climate change, mass extinctions of non-human species and other significant transformations on a global scale. Whether these changes are reversible is uncertain.

On a smaller scale—such as we can observe in our neighborhoods, cities and local landscapes—anthropogenic change gives rise to surprising and unanticipated interactions among species. Mark Dion, Jessica Rath and Dana Sherwood explore these transformations and transactions in the shifting ecotomes—or contact zones between human and non-human worlds—in the multifaceted works included in The Ocelots of Foothill Boulevard.

Brownfield sites and other highly polluted zones, thought incapable of yielding anything at all, have become flourishing habitats for exotic or so-called “invasive” species. Vacant office building, dead shopping malls and decommissioned military installations have become host to new flora and fauna—they are emergent “second nature” habitats in which productive interconnected multi-species communities flourish. One such site exhibiting these unforeseen interactions is the ruin of a historic infirmary, located at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains in northeastern Los Angeles County. Built in the 1930s, it functioned for many years as a health facility for students of The Claremont Colleges. Ravaged by fires, earthquakes and other natural disasters, the infirmary was condemned and abandoned by the early 1970s. A recovering landscape, the building and the parcel of land in which it sits is today host to non-native grasses, Coast Live Oaks and a diverse community of biota—mammalian, avian, insect and amphibian—as well as researchers and students who have made their homes and laboratories in and around the shuttered building.

Taking the multi-species habitat of the infirmary as a reference point, Dion, Rath and Sherwood have excavated the shared non-human and human histories that have populated the area during the past 80 years. In addition to this local site, the artists have extended their forensic gaze to other “second nature” habitats of a terrestrial as well as an aquatic nature. Traversing time and temperate zones, these explorations, while acknowledging the deleterious effects of humans on earth, also signal the unintended value that habitat conversions and co-species habitations can have in the anthropocene.

The Ocelots of Foothill Boulevard is generously supported by art+environment, a four-year project at Pitzer College funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Robert Redford Conservancy for Southern California Sustainability at Pitzer College.

Related Events

Artist Lecture
Mark Dion: The Wonder Workshop, Jellyfish and Sleeping Bears

Saturday, January 23 at 2 p.m., prior to exhibition reception
Broad Performance Space, Broad Center, Pitzer College

Vocal Performance by Cris Law
Saturday, January 23 at 4 p.m.
Nichols Gallery, Broad Center, Pitzer College

Panel Discussion
Thursday, March 3 at 2 p.m.
Broad Performance Space, Broad Center, Pitzer College

Kang Seung Lee: Untitled (Artspeak?)

September 12-December 11, 2015
Lenzner Family Art Gallery

Opening Reception

Saturday, September 12, 3-5 p.m.
Nichols Gallery, Pitzer College Art Galleries

Artist Lecture

Kang Seung Lee in conversation with Leslie Dick, artist, writer and faculty at California Institute of the Arts
Wednesday, October 28, 4:15 p.m.
Room Q116, West Hall, Pitzer College

Kang Seung Lee’s installation Untitled (Artspeak?) takes as its starting point ARTSPEAK (1st edition, 1990), the mainstream compendium of “contemporary ideas, movements and buzzwords” from 1945 to 1989. Situating art movements and genres within the context of cultural and historical events, ARTSPEAK provides an overarching view of artistic practice from a Western European perspective that privileges a first-world patriarchal view of art history. In contrast, Lee challenges this narrow interpretation by re-writing the timeline from a critical queer perspective that includes women and artists of color previously erased from the narrative.

In keeping with the page layout and format of the book, artists, Lee invited writers and critics to contribute images and other textural references from the year of their birth that resonate with particular artistic, cultural and political moments. The resulting large-scale works, which are produced by Lee, are populated with his collaborators’ individualized responses that re-imagine history from the perspective of previously marginalized cultures and identities. Functioning as alternative historical narratives, they also operate as portraits of the participants, who include Leslie Dick, Millie Wilson, Gina Osterloh, Yong Soon Min and Jennifer Moon.

In a related project, Covers (2015), Lee excavates the gender and racial demographics of catalogues collected by CalArts Library since it opened in 1971. Comprising five bound books, each representing a decade, Covers documents the number of monographs on women and artists of color. By creating this counter-archive, Covers highlights forms of discrimination implicit in conventional systems that construct and disseminate knowledge.

About the Artist

Kang Seung Lee is a multidisciplinary artist who was born in South Korea and now lives and works in Los Angeles. He has had solo and group exhibitions at Centro Cultural Border, Mexico City, Mexico; the Weatherspoon Art Museum at University of North Carolina, Greensboro, NC; Museo Casa de Leon Trotsky, Mexico City; SOMArts, San Francisco, CA; Center for Art and Thought, Los Angeles, CA. Lee received his MFA from California Institute of the Arts in 2015.

Liat Yossifor: Time Turning Paint

September 12-December 11, 2015
Nichols Gallery

Opening Reception

Saturday, September 12, 3-5 p.m.
Nichols Gallery, Pitzer College Art Galleries

Panel Discussion

“The Politics of Painting”
Wednesday, September 30, 4:15 p.m.
Nichols Gallery, Broad Center, Pitzer College

Panelists: Artists Liat Yossifor and Nery Gabriel Lemus, with Kevin Appel, UC Irvine professor of art and Joanna Roche, Cal State Fullerton professor of art history. Moderated by Christopher Michno, writer, critic and independent curator.

This panel discussion is generously supported by the Frederick J. Salathé Fund for Music and the Cultural Arts.

Artist Lecture

Artists Liat Yossifor and Iva Gueorguieva in conversation with David Pagel, critic, curator and professor of art theory and history at Claremont Graduate University
Wednesday, November 11, 4:15 p.m.
Nichols Gallery, Broad Center, Pitzer College

Painting - The Rider The Rider (2014); 16 by 12 inches; oil on linen

Although Liat Yossifor’s large-scale monochromatic paintings reference the tradition of Abstract Expressionism through their formal language, they have an entirely different agenda. As such, the exhibition, Liat Yossifor: Time Turning Paint, will explore abstraction as a political form and question the efficacy of both the medium and the genre as well as its relationship to artistic practice in the twenty-first century.

Despite beginning as vibrant blue, red or yellow canvasses, Yossifor’s paintings culminate in somber variations of gray ranging from light slate to almost white. Both tactile and sculptural, these thick impasto paintings are made entirely with palette knives that sculpt, incise and move large quantities of oil paint around on the paintings’ surface. Process-based and performative, these works are governed by a set of rules that delimit the time in which they can be worked on and completed. Produced within three days—the time it takes for the paint to dry—both the color and any discernable representational aspect are erased from the surface, resulting in a void-like space haunted by its expunged referents.

Although Abstract Expressionism is traditionally a male-dominated medium that celebrated the author-as-genius and abstraction as the purist form, Yossifor’s manipulation of the genre as a time-based gendered performance reconfigures the coordinates. In doing so, Yossifor encourages not only an expansion of the vernacular of Abstract Expressionism but also a different kind of meditation on its function and, as a result, its political potential.

About the Artist

Painting Detail: The Rider Detail: The Rider (2014); 16 by 12 inches; oil on linen

Liat Yossifor has exhibited nationally and internationally. Solo exhibitions include Liat Yossifor: Pre-Verbal Painting at the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, MO (2015); Liat Yossifor: Thought Patterns at Amerigner | McEnery | Yohe, New York, NY (2012); Liat Yossifor: Falling into Ends at Galerie Anita Beckers, Frankfurt, Germany (2010); and Liat Yossifor: The Tender Among Us at the Pomona College Museum of Art, Claremont, CA (2007). Group exhibitions include Stolen Gestures at Kunsthaus Nuremberg, Nuremberg, Germany (2013) and A Reflected Gaze, Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA (2010).