For more than eight years, Professor Victoria Vesna has served on the executive committee of a system-wide group of digital arts faculty from eight UC campuses who have worked collectively to identify and document practitioners and support programs in the burgeoning field of digital arts. Known as UC DARNet - the UC Digital Arts Research Network, this multi-campus research group presented international conferences, graduate symposia, streamed events, and maintained a web portal reflecting related activities system-wide and promoting UC digital arts to the global community. During this time, the growth of academic programs, and the increasing involvement of faculty and student populations on each campus have created an extended community of renowned artists, theorists and researchers that is unprecedented anywhere in the U.S.,or abroad. In 2005 Vesna assumed directorship of UC DARNet in order to bridge that initiative with the Art | Sci Center.
Two years ago, a proposal to establish the Art | Science center was approved by Dean Waterman and vice chancellor Daniel Neuman. At exactly the same time, a three-year MRP continuation proposal was approved by the Office of the President to develop technologically-based centers of excellence. It was determined by the MRP executive committee that, during the bridge period, UC DARnet should be moved to the UCLA Arts School, with myself serving as the director. Immediately linking to the established UC-wide network of media artists/researchers proved very beneficial to the launching of the Art | Sci center.
The initial two years focused on promoting the newly established center with as much participation in conferences and other professional meetings around the subject of art and science as possible. Attention was also paid to recruiting graduate students interested in pursuing this newly emerging field. Even though Vesna was still shouldering the responsibility of chairing the department of Design | Media Arts during this time, the Art|Sci Center managed to accomplish a great deal (outlined below), in part due to the enthusiastic support received from the Dean and the creative energies of colleagues and students.
Leonardo Education Forum
This year marks 40 years since the journal Leonardo, and the network of artists and scientists surrounding it, was established by the late Frank Malina, a CalTech astrophysicist and pioneering kinetic artist. His son, UC Berkeley astrophysicist Roger Malina, has continued this initiative and recently established the Leonardo Education Forum (LEF). Vesna was elected co-chair of this new branch of Leonardo and the Art | Sci Center has designed and is hosting the LEF website. This further expands the art-science collaboration network to include a wide international community.
UCLA is poised to take a leadership position in advancing and solidifying the achievements of the DARNet MRG while establishing the campus as the central base for the effort.