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CHRISTEN LIEN - performing "Listening Human"

Returning to Hacking Arts for an encore performance, musical storyteller and hacking artist Christen Lien will perform a unique musical meditation on this year's Hacking Arts theme "Why Human." Gracing Hacking Arts 2017 with her story, art-tech inquiry, and augmented viola, Christen endeavors to evoke a Turing-test inspired moment for attendees. 

Christen is also forging new territory this year with the MIT Hacking Arts Hackathon; offering a first-of-its-kind 'artist hack challenge'; provoking hackers to join her in dreaming and building an artistic future that advances technological development and application while uplifting that which is essentially human. She'll open her library of musical video, story, graphical, photographic and VR assets as she collaborates with multiple creative teams in opening new dimensions of artistic expression. 

Christen Lien has performed for institutions and impact communities including the Obama White House, Dalai Lama, Google, Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Forbes, Innovation Endeavors, Summit, Halcyon, Nexus Global, Burning Man and You Are So Lucky. Her recently released concept album ELPIS continues the mythology of the goddess Elpis, who had been trapped in Pandora's Box for millennia, as a means of exploring the dark side of hope. 

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Ilya Vidrin and The Reciprocity Collaborative


About Ilya Vidrin

With backgrounds in cognitive science, rhetorical theory, and classical, contemporary, and improvisational movement and sound, Ilya has spent much of his time synthesizing his academic and artistic interests to investigate interdisciplinary collaboration. In recent years, Ilya has worked with Urbanity Dance, Abraham.In.Motion, Royal Swedish Ballet, Erick Hawkins Dance Company, and Kurofune Ensemble (Japan). He has created his own multimedia works through partnerships and creative residencies with the Interlochen Arts Academy (Michigan), International Beethoven Festival, Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), and The Cambrians. Since 2012, Ilya has served as the artistic director of the Reciprocity Collaborative.

Alongside his artistic practice, Ilya studied experiential anatomy based on proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation with Irene Dowd, and holds certifications in Mat Pilates and Restorative Yoga. He pursued undergraduate studies in Cognitive Neuroscience and Rhetorical Theory at Northeastern University and received a Master’s Degree in Human Development from Harvard University, where he worked on clinical and experimental research projects investigating alternative therapies for cognitive and neurodegenerative disorders including neuro-navigated Transcranial Magnetic Brain Stimulation (TMS) and mindful/somatic enrichment.  Ilya continues to develop his research through a practice-based PhD, with postgraduate fellowships at Harvard University and the Centre for Dance Research in the United Kingdom. Ilya will be a resident this spring at Jacob's Pillow -  a dance center, school and performance space located in Becket, Massachusetts. 


About The Reciprocity Collaborative

The Reciprocity Collaborative is a network of creative professionals dedicated to working together through research, performance, and community engagement. At Hacking Arts, Reciprocity Collaborators will be sharing work-in-progress which aims to understand whether aspects of “connection” within dance partnering are determinable, generalizable, and further, measurable. Still in conceptual development, artists will be using basic wearable biofeedback technology designed to capture haptic and proxemic data as they move with and around each other. Currently used in studio and performance environments, implications for this research extends beyond artistic practice to promote healthy and meaningful physical interactions.  


Alice Grishchenko

Alice is an illustrator, animator, game-maker, and Floridian who recently relocated to Boston after receiving an MFA in Animation and interactive media from Ohio State University. She is interested in dichotomy and the way it is presented in interactive media.

She is presenting a game that allows you to connect with others on the subway by directing your character's gaze and creating a pattern of eye contact.


Sarah Newman, Rachel Kalmar, and Jessica Yurkofsky 

Secrets (my inner voice is a robot)

Are secrets uniquely human? Our private lives, relationships, experiences, and secrets are mediated, influenced, and recorded by digital devices. Where are our secrets now -- where will they be in the future, and who – or what – might read them? This performance and interactive installation contends with questions about how AIs of the future will process the data we leave behind. Will they know things about us that we don’t (and never could) know about ourselves? What does being human really mean?


About the performers

Sarah Newman is a Creative Researcher at metaLAB at Harvard, and a Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. Working primarily in the areas of installation art and photography, she develops projects that deal with technology’s role in culture, examining the significance of the current moment both playfully and critically. Newman holds a BA in Philosophy from Washington University in St. Louis and an MFA in Imaging Arts from the Rochester Institute of Technology; she has exhibited work in New York, San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, Berlin, and Rome, and has held artist residencies in Germany and Sweden. Her current work explores the social and philosophical dimensions of artificial intelligence, the curious intersections of the human and the nonhuman, and using art as a means of engagement, education, and critique.


Jessica Yurkofsky is a designer with roots in ethnography, computer science, and place-making, and is a Creative Technologist at metaLAB at Harvard. Yurkofsky holds a BA in Sociology from Stanford University and a Masters in Urban Planning from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Her graduate work focused on seniors’ use of social media as a means of accessing dispersed social spaces and community. Yurkofsky’s interests include creative hacks, building things, and design interventions in community spaces, particularly libraries. She has been part of the teaching team of LABRARY and Library Test Kitchen; she is also the lead designer on Curricle, a new course selection and visualization tool that maps the evolution of Harvard’s curriculum.


Rachel Kalmar is a data scientist, Berkman Klein Fellow, and world record holder for number of wearable sensors worn continuously. Wrangling noisy data, she investigates how to make wearable and sensor data useful and interactive. A Stanford neuroscience PhD, Rachel has spent over a decade using data to explain, predict and influence behavior. Rachel focuses on the application of data and the broader ecosystems within which it exists. What are barriers to data access, sharing and interoperability, and how can we enable more open data ecosystems to better serve the public interest? Rachel is an alumna of Stanford's Neurosciences Program, the Hasso Plattner Institute for Design (aka the, UCSD Physics, The Salk Institute, Singularity University, Rock Health, and Misfit Wearables.

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MJ Halberstadt

MJ Halberstadt is a playwright and educator with a crush on Antarctica. He is a proud Huntington Playwriting Fellow, and recipient of the Elliot Norton Award for “Outstanding New Script” (The Launch Prize). His work has been acknowledged and supported by Assets 4 Artists, BCA/Company One PlayLab, Boston University Creative Writing Global Fellowship, KCACTF Region 1, and Last Frontier Theatre Conference. He is a Playmaker Emeritus of Bridge Repertory Theater, member of the Dramatists Guild of America, and affiliated faculty at Emerson College.


Adam J. Thompson, Aaron Landgraf, and Philip Gates

Untitled #1

Untitled # 1 is a developing performance installation that asks what forms participation takes and what these forms might mean in a society in which choices are made digitally as often as physically. Visitors are invited to complete a series of simple tasks that may or may not have an effect on their physical surroundings. What attitudes and information do you bring into the space with you? What do you leave behind, and what do you take with you when you go?


About the performers

Adam J. Thompson is the Founding Director of The Deconstructive Theatre Project and a theatre and multimedia artist and producer working across a variety of forms. His projects have been produced and presented at the Magic Futurebox, HERE, La Mama, The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival, the Theatre at the 14th Street Y, FiveMyles, Gowanus Art & Production, the VIA Festival, the Special Effects Festival, Bard College's Fisher Center, and Carnegie Mellon University. His work has received support and recognition from 15 institutions, including the National Endowment for the Arts; the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation; and The Jerome Robbins Foundation, in support of a body of work exploring neuroscience through live performance. Adam is a founding participant in The Public Theater’s Devised Theater Working Group, a member of the HERE Artist Residency Program, and a collaborator with multimedia collectives The Builders Association and Big Art Group. He is currently a second year MFA candidate in Video & Media Design at Carnegie Mellon University.

Aaron Landgraf is an electronic musician, sound designer, and theater maker living in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Recently, his work has been part of a workshop for the New Zealand STAB commission and as part of the New York Special Effects festival.  He is currently pursuing an MFA in sound design at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama.

Philip Gates is a theatre artist creating and developing original work, with an emphasis on queer, choreographic, and participatory strategies. His work as a director and performer has been presented at the Fisher Center, HERE, Ars Nova, La MaMa, Dixon Place, The Brick, Cloud City, The Tank, and other venues. Based in New York City, he is currently a John Wells Directing Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University.