Art, Tech & Culture

A Body Without Borders

Art, Tech & Culture
01 Apr, 2019

A Body Without Borders

Presented in partnership with the Wiesenfeld Visiting Artist Lecture Series, in collaboration with the Berkeley Arts and Design initiative as part of A+D Mondays @ BAMPFA.

Rhonda Holberton’s interdisciplinary art practice illuminates the politics of the corporeal body navigating through virtual space. In this presentation Holberton will discuss her recent projects utilizing networked VR designed to trigger subtle interactions of electrons between biological and digital systems, a speculative cosmetic company whose mission is focused on the potential of products to create distributed performative action, and collaborative image making with Neural Networks.

We are living through a crisis of reality. Recent elections across the globe revealed many people living in parallel, but rarely overlapping, realities. Today, ubiquitous screens mediate bodily experiences of the physical world. In turn, we are beginning to see digital content shaping material reality. Technologies to deliver Augmented & Virtual Reality (VR) will soon become as common as smartphones are itoday. At the same time, the material environment and physical bodies living within it are approaching a critical moment of climate-induced destabilization that can only be mitigated by collective action. If VR can create a situation in which the user's entire environment is determined by the creators of the virtual world, then it is imperative that the creators of digital worlds take into account the collective needs of the physical one.

The solutions to existential problems must come from existential analysis. Broadly speaking, the fields of design and engineering are really good at solving problems. These disciplines are rooted in the figuring out of ‘Can we’ and ‘How to.’ Great engineers can anticipate the ways a project could fail technically. Art on the other hand, is particularly good at asking questions; addressing what if rather than how to. Questions like; Should we? What are all the ways this project could cause failures in other places if it is successful? What are other Models? What does it look like if…? Great art expands the perimeter of the possible. Holberton’s work utilizes materials and platforms that physically connect human bodies through technology, highlighting they ways signals of digitally engineered worlds have physical ramifications; how the extraction of materials from the environment that support technology are destabilizing the plant; and how we might write better rules for digital platforms that consider the external effects on all bodies and respect the most vulnerable ones.

About Rhonda Holberton

Rhonda Holberton holds an MFA from Stanford University (2012) and a BFA from CCA (2007). Her multimedia installations make use of digital and interactive technologies integrated into traditional methods of art production. In 2014 Holberton was a CAMAC Artist in Residence at Marnay-sur-Seine, France, and she was awarded a Fondation Ténot Fellowship, Paris. Her work is included in the collection of SFMoMA and the McEvoy Foundation and has been exhibited at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts; Contemporary Jewish Museum (SF); Transfer Gallery (NYC), CULT | Aimee Friberg Exhibitions, FIFI Projects Mexico City; San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art; and the San Francisco Arts Commission. Holberton taught experimental media at Stanford University from 2015-2017 and is is currently Assistant Professor of Digital Media at San Jose State University . She lives and works in Oakland.

About the Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium

Founded by Prof. Ken Goldberg in 1997, the ATC lecture series is an internationally respected forum for creative ideas. Always free of charge and open to the public, the series is coordinated by the Berkeley Center for New Media and has presented over 200 leading artists, writers, and critical thinkers who question assumptions and push boundaries at the forefront of art, technology, and culture including: Vito Acconci, Laurie Anderson, Sophie Calle, Bruno Latour, Maya Lin, Doug Aitken, Pierre Huyghe, Miranda July, Billy Kluver, David Byrne, Gary Hill, and Charles Ray.

Fall 2018 – Spring 2019: Fact & Fiction

What do we make now of this classic opposition? For centuries, artists and critics have placed pressure on both of these terms, often asking us to question how to separate truth from lies, the real from the artificial, and fact from fiction. Addressing a range of political contexts and utilizing an array of creative forms, speakers in this series offer new approaches to these age-old questions.

The Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium is presented in conjunction with Arts + Design Mondays at BAMPFA.

Monday Evenings, 6:30-8:00pm
Osher Theater, BAMPFA, Berkeley, CA
Seating free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted


09/10 Roxane Gay: With One N
Roxane Gay, Author, Indiana
Registration required via Eventbrite.

10/08 The Networked Avant-Garde
Kelani Nichole, Director The Current, New York
In partnership with the Wiesenfeld Visiting Artist Lecture Series

10/15 Image and Amnesia
Kerry Tribe, Artist, LA, CA
In partnership with the Wiesenfeld Visiting Artist Lecture Series

10/29 The Good Anthropocene: Terraforming Earth
Kim Stanley Robinson, Author, Davis, CA
In partnership with the Department of Architecture's Studio One

11/19 Daemons Tools Art Tech
Marisa Morán Jahn, Artist, Cambridge, MA


02/11 News of the Future and the Future of News
Kevin Delaney, Editor, Quartz
In partnership with the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

02/25 In and out of the Body and into the Machine
Chico Macmurtrie, Artist, New York

03/04 A Conversation with Nnedi Okorafor
Nnedi Okorafor, Artist, Olympia Fields, IL
In partnership with the Department of Architecture's Studio One,
the Department of African American Studies,
and the Department of English

03/18 On Digital Colonialism and 'Other' Futures
Morehshin Allahyari, Artist, New York
In partnership with the Wiesenfeld Visiting Artist Lecture Series
and the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation
and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies
and Stanford University
Registration required via Eventbrite

04/01 A Body Without Borders
Rhonda Holberton, Artist, Oakland
In partnership with the Wiesenfeld Visiting Artist Lecture Series

04/29 Places in Space
Adam Savage, Mythbusters, SF
In partnership with the Department of Architecture's Studio One
Registration required via Eventbrite

For updated information, maps, please see:

Contact: info.bcnm [​at​], 510-495-3505

ATC Director: Ken Goldberg
BCNM Director: Nicholas de Monchaux
Arts + Design Director: Shannon Jackson
BCNM Liaisons: Lara Wolfe, Laurie Macfee

ATC Home Page (list of speakers, directions, mailing list):

ATC Highlight Video from F10-S11 Season (2 mins)

ATC Audio-Video Archive on Brewster Kahle's Internet Archive:

ATC on Facebook:

ATC on Twitter:

Arts + Design Mondays @ BAMPFA is organized and sponsored by UC Berkeley’s Arts + Design Initiative. The series is co curated by Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium at the Berkeley Center for New Media; Department of Art Practice; Graduate School of Journalism; Townsend Center for the Humanities; The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, and in collaboration with the Headlands Center for the Arts; Fort Mason Center/COAL + ICE; CIEE; Art21; and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

The 2018-19 series of Arts + Design Mondays is made possible thanks to a generous donation from Jacqueline Jackson and other supporters of Berkeley Arts + Design.

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