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New Media Futures: The Rise of Women in the Digital Arts captures the spirit of women working in digital media arts and education in the Midwest. These pioneers made essential contributions to the international technological revolution, helping to catalyze what we now think of as the age of digital and social media.

Our Herstory Screening Room features works that emerged from seminal events that took place at the University of Illinois and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1980s-2000s, in a fertile environment combining social feminist change, artistic energy, and technological innovation. While women artists in Chicago, marginalized in traditional venues, built a network of independent galleries and exhibit spaces to house and highlight their work, interdisciplinary Renaissance Teams at the University of Illinois developed advanced academic computing communities that created a bridge to the humanities and forged new partnerships between the artist and the scientific environment. Behind this revolution lay a history of social change, artistic innovation, women’s civic leadership, and breakthroughs in science and technology.

Please enjoy a curated video art selection of featured works that were included in New Media Futures:

Ellen Sandor & (art)n : Eternal Pruning of the Beautiful Mind, 2020

Microglia are the primary immune cells of our central nervous system, that are responsible for pruning synapses. During synaptic pruning, our brain eliminates extra synapses–brain structures that allow neurons to transmit electrical or chemical signals to another neuron. Synaptic pruning is thought to be our brain’s way of removing connections in the brain that are unnecessary or no longer needed.

In the Eternal Pruning of the Beautiful Mind VR game, players are invited to balance pruning away extra synapses, exploring what is too much or too little, by directing microglia to correctly prune the ideal number of synapses. When too many synapses are pruned away, dramatic visual changes occur for the player within the scene. When “over-pruning”, players experience fainter sound quality, fading color changes and diminishing light. In contrast, “under-pruning” intensifies their sensory experiences of louder sound effects, saturated color and brighter light. By responding to these sensory cues to direct microglial cells, players can control one aspect of synaptic pruning, and ponder how these important sequences may be taking place within our brain. Created in tandem with the PHSCologram diptych, Mighty Microglia and Pruning the Neuronal Forest.

Game Goal: Create neuronal balance by pruning synapses. Over-pruning results in softer sound quality and dimmed light to almost darkness. Under-pruning results in the intensification of brighter light, saturated color and louder sound effects.

Navigate the environment by using arrows on your keyboard.

Use your mouse or trackpad to select the synapses (glowing white circles) and that will direct microglia to prune.

Note: For better performance, it is recommended to open the game with any browser except Safari. 

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Herstory Lightening Talks:



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