'Emerge' blends science and art under one roof

ASU associate professor Lance Gharavi leads a discussion with the audience on the potential of robots in the future at the Emerge 2015 event held at Skysong in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Daniel Kwon/The State Press) ASU associate professor Lance Gharavi leads a discussion with the audience on the potential of robots in the future at the Emerge 2015 event held at Skysong in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Daniel Kwon/The State Press)

It’s always interesting to see how far the reach of ASU can go in Arizona. The school owns the beautiful SkySong complex in Scottsdale, home to alumni and others looking to start their own businesses.

On Friday, it fittingly played home to the ASU Emerge event, which combined the likes of art, science and technology together for an entertaining festival.

Though the blue-tinged ballroom that held the event felt small, there was still quite a lot to see and do at each station. "The Deep Time Photo Lab," run by photographer Jonathon Keats, invited attendees to create pinhole cameras that would take pictures of Phoenix for one hundred years, marking the changing landscape.

Another station, the Future Design studio, asked people to design and create futuristic prototypes of everyday items that we use today. The items were later used by improv group Torch Theater in a performance near the end of the show.

Amidst a chalkboard video screen and a floor of gravel was "The Happiness Project," a program set to aid in the assistance of a barrio neighborhood that has been around for generations in Arizona.

Lauren McBurnett, a sustainable engineering student at ASU and a member of the project, said that the aim was to help the area establish its sense of community.

“Here at Emerge, we’re inviting people into the space to incorporate their designs as to what makes people happy in the context of a neighborhood," she said.

Ideas were drawn on the tall chalkboard and ranged from coffee shops to DC Comics hero Batman.

Down the hall from the project was "You Have Been Inventoried," a station that marked attendees with tags to monitor their movements around the event.

Next to that was "Ars Robotica," a project led by Professor Lance Gharavi that uses a robot named Baxter to mimic human movements in an effort to create performance art.

Set up by Phoenix-based investment firm Idea Farm in tandem with Lego Serious Play was "Future Fairy Tales With Legos" – a station that called on people of all ages to come up with interpretations of villains, heroes and challenges for the year 2050.

According to Tamara Christensen, a member of Idea Farm, heroes and villains could be anything in the future.

“Maybe a villain is technology, maybe it’s some of the things that we’ve created," she said. "The hero could very easily be nature or the idea of considering what it will really take to face the stuff that’s coming.”

Pennsylvania artist Toby Fraley and his Artwork Forge returned from an appearance at last week’s Canal Convergence, and generated yet another long line of those interested in instant art for the home.

A small stage outside drew a large crowd of fans eager to see Jad Abumrad, founder of the popular National Public Radio show “RadioLab.”

He gave a lecture on “Gut Churn," incorporating timed audiovisual components. The talk asked the question, “what does it mean to innovate?” and delved into the feeling of uncertainty with a new project.

Leia Pahules, a bioengineering graduate of ASU, attended Emerge with her husband Jeremiah Scott, a graduate of political science. They came to see Abmurad’s presentation.

“He’s an entertaining guy, so no matter what he’s gonna put on an hour or so of entertainment," he said.

Jon Anderson and his wife, Carey Jones, also attended Emerge for Abmurad’s show, but enjoyed the activities as well.

“The fact that you’re blending two sides, art and science together, is very compelling," she said. “To see this celebrated in some way is, I think, really tremendous.”


Reach the reporter at djulienr@asu.edu, or talk to him on Twitter @legendpenguin

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