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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:

Barbara Sykes : I Dream of Dreaming, 1981

"VIDEO HAIKU, 1981 through 1986, are video poems and mythic stories inspired by indigenous female spiritual leaders and freedom fighters. Stages of awareness and my dance and martial arts performances were integral to the work."

I Dream of Dreaming, 1981, was inspired by Amaterasu, the Japanese mythological sun goddess, and conceived from dreams, poetry, and precognition. In 1988, Sykes first produced it as a live, multimedia performance piece for the public; she danced in concert with a large-screen projector and monitors strategically placed, displaying her video/computer art at SAIC’s performance space. Later, she produced it as a single-channel tape for distribution. 

In both productions, Sykes danced and used the IP and Rutt-Etra synthesizer, with sound
by Stuart Pettigrew. As part of Sykes’s fourteen-month Columbia College sabbatical and Chicago Artists Abroad Award, she presented I Dream of Dreaming as part of her Retrospective, a collection of her work, and Video and Computer Art: Chicago Style, an exhibition she curated that included her tapes in Japan, China, Australia, and Spain in 1988–1989.

Courtesy of Barbara Sykes. Featured in 'New Media Futures: The Rise of Women in the Digital Arts'.

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