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Events at Rice


Visual and Dramatic Arts
Dean of Humanities

Speaker: Ryan Li
Speaker: Michael Robinson
Speaker: Huidi Xiang

Mavis C. Pitman Exhibition Award Ceremony & Reception

Wednesday, April 5, 2017
6:00 PM  to 8:00 PM

Gallery  Rice Media Center
Rice University, Entrance #8 via University Blvd & Stockton Ave
6100 Main St
Houston, Texas, USA

The Visual & Dramatic Arts department is proud to host this year’s Mavis C. Pitman Award recipients at the Media Center on Wednesday, April 5th, from 6-8pm.

Join us for the opening reception of the Mavis C. Pitman Exhibition 'In Construction'. The exhibiting artists, winners of this year's award, are:
Ryan Li
Michael Robinson
Huidi Xiang

Artists will be present and each will introduce their work.

Exhibition on view: April 5th - 14th
Gallery Hours: Monday - Friday, 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

This exhibition has been underwritten by the Mavis C. Pitman Endowment in the Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts. For more information, please visit www.arts.rice.edu or call 713-348-4882.

Ryan Li - teach me about Mao

Human and machines are oftentimes considered to be at the binary end at their definitions - humans are creative and intelligent, while machines are cold-blooded and mechanical. In this installation, I plan to discuss the relationship between human and machines by "teaching" a machine about the concept of communism without explicitly coding a static definition.
With the progress of technology and human ingenuity, artificial intelligence is slowly becoming the new reality. Machine Learning is a process that "gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed". This new development in technology begs the question: is Artificial Intelligence human?
Mao Tse-tung, one of the most known faces in history, made an incontrovertible impact on China both politically and culturally. Cultural Revolution is a sociopolitical movement set in motion by Mao, intending to purge capitalism from China and reinforce the cultural and political prominence of Maoism. Propaganda infiltrated every single aspect of people's life - conditioning, framing, and teaching the public about the ways of Maoism has been a constant theme during the Cultural Revolution. Intending to teach the machine the discipline and doctrine of communism, I will not only let the machine actively learn everything about communism, but also allow it to gain a "consciousness" of its own - the machine will form its own opinion and create unique commentaries about Mao and communism with the latest development in Artificial Intelligence.
The theme of this installation is to provide a unique perspective about the Cultural Revolution, while re-exploring the complicated nature of human-machine relationships.

Huidi Xiang- Heidegger Study Model

In his Building Dwelling Thinking, Martin Heidegger, 20th century German philosopher proposes his perspective towards building, not in a view of tectonic, construction, or technique, but traces its origins. For Heidegger, building is just a mean for mortals to dwell, the action which is the goal. Dwelling, for him, contains a certain psychological or emotional state of being attached to it. In other words, the domain of dwelling is not restricted to physical existing space with home, nor is it necessarily stationary. A house, as a conventionally believed dwelling unit, should not be just a physical structure.We merge our understanding of exterior world as well as our inner being into a structure to create the space where we can exist in a natural and peaceful state, where we can dwell. The objects, the houses we have built contain locales or significance through this process, when awareness of our existence and condition arise.
Admittedly, for those people like Heidegger or architects, dwelling is not just a shelter but conceptually or physically is a serious issue. But the truth is, for a person choosing to live under roof rather than wander outdoors, a house is simply a place to relax, lay back, abandon the rationality, have fun, and do stupid or even weird things.
This piece tries to honestly present this subjective yet universal mixed feeling of the interest in serious philosophical ideas and the at-home mode idea(aka let-it-go-I-am-done-with-all-the-seriousness). The work which acting between architecture model and totally surrealism objects aims to place the discussion of dwelling in a heterotopia to “seriously” discuss the dwelling/existence issue by separating the idea from any disciplines to interpret the philosophical ideas Heidegger proposed towards the houses and self-existential awareness while mocking the ideas of treating house too serious in a humorous or even dumb-like expression.

Michael Robinson - The Space That You Occupy

I became increasingly aware of the boundary lines separating and policing communities while living in Israel. These boundaries sometimes took the form of gates and checkpoints, sometimes as street corners and playgrounds. Neighborhoods did not mix. The Jerusalem for one Israeli citizen was completely different from the Jerusalem of another, permitting that citizenship is recognized. These tensions and restrictions permeate the streets, placing a sense of internal turmoil and unrest within bodies and complicating notions of belonging.
Spatial politics and prospective futures play key roles when talking about belonging, especially within Israel/Palestine. Borders become readily apparent throughout the state, demarking who can access which space. These demarcations permeate the country, segmenting and fracturing urban infrastructures into highly segregated neighborhoods and streets, taking physical form as well as manifesting in embodied experience. I seek to explore the political implications of space through the lens of the individual, positioning situations (gravel, flags, security cameras) where they must confront the space they occupy as well as the myriad of barriers, both visible and invisible, that frame their sense of belonging.
This piece operates in two different realms: current realities and imagined futures. The tunnel operates through paranoias and vulnerabilities, permeable to outsiders looking in, giving a sense of entrapment and heightened visibility while traversing through the piece. Multiple agents emphasize the vulnerability of walking through the space, being watched by others as well as the state.
The enclosed and opaque room functions through a series of hopes and dreams of what the state can be, offering a multiplicity of possibilities but only through figments that don’t have material weight. Futures appear and become reimagined, recycling through various aspirations, yet without any grounding to become real. The tensions of belonging carry forward to an imagined space where one could possibly belong, or forever stay unwelcomed.

Exhibition on view: April 5th - 14th
Gallery Hours: Monday - Friday, 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

This exhibition has been underwritten by the Mavis C. Pitman Endowment and the Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts. For more information, please visit www.arts.rice.edu or call 713-348-4882.

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