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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:

Carolina Cruz-Neira : Ashes to Ashes, 2003

Scenes from a 9/11 Memorial. 

"The piece was almost like a theatrical play with four acts. Act One was a beautiful day, because everybody told us what a beautiful day it was. Act Two we called “What They Heard” because everybody who told us their story started with noises—they heard explosions. Very few people saw anything. Most of them heard it. The Third Act, we called “Ashes” because after they heard the noises they only saw ashes and ashes and more ashes. The last act was about the residents, where a lot of them gave us their own views on how their life is now different. The whole experience from the beginning to the end is about fourteen or fifteen minutes because in every act, as a viewer, you have the choice of how many stories you hear. You navigate through the space and have four stops. In every stop you can hear the backdrop and, for example, hear the story of somebody who was in the towers, or you can hear the story of someone who was in the subway, or the story of someone who was in the park, or somebody who was across the river.You can branch out and hear all the stories in original voices with sound effects and experience unique visuals."

Courtesy of Carolina Cruz-Neira. Featured in 'New Media Futures: The Rise of Women in the Digital Arts'.

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