"Art + Environment," a three-day conference starting this Thursday at the Nevada Museum of Art, in Reno, assembles artists, scientists, designers, and thinkers to discuss overlaps between nature and culture. Conference Lead Moderator William L. Fox draws parallels between experiments of the 1960s, in which scientists "began crossing disciplines to understand how environments work," and the various ways contemporary practitioners are engaging the "natural, built, and virtual environments in which they work," from sculptors using earth as an artistic material, and architects assuming the role of digital cartographers, to painters and photographers taking agriculture as their subject matter. The vast, unpredictable potential of these current strategies makes Nevada a perfect host, Fox adds, given its own history as both "a playground and a dumping ground": a locus of consumer excess and military secrecy. The conference program features a panel of artists and scientists, including Lita Albuquerque and Chris Drury, who have worked in extreme environments; a conversation with photographer and Burning Man veteran Michael Light on the effect media and art-world attention is having on the gathering; and a talk by the San Jose Museum of Art's Senior Curator JoAnne Northrup on the art of Jennifer Steinkamp, Northrup authored Steinkamp's 2006 monograph and curated a recent touring exhibition of her work. The digital technology and naturalistic content of Steinkamp's immersive, moving-image installations make them a perfect subject of inquiry for this ambitious conference. - Tyler CoburnImage: Michael Light, Barney's Canyon Gold Mine Looking South, Near Bingham Canyon, Utah, 2006
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