New School News

The New School Takes on Austin at SXSW

The AIDS Quilt Touch project will be on display at The New School’s booth at South by Southwest. Photo by Anne Balsamo.

Every year, the biggest names in independent music, film, design, and start-up tech arrive in Austin, Texas for a week of speeches, meetings, collaborations, and breakfast tacos. From March 8 to 17, the capitol will host the South by Southwest Interactive conference, and this year The New School’s cutting-edge blend of media, art, design, and theory will be on full display.

“South by Southwest is unique in that it brings together musicians, filmmakers, engineers, and designers who are creating from the ground up,” says Anne Balsamo, chair of Media Studies at The New School for Public Engagement. “It’s a cross-disciplinary and democratic approach that attracts independent thinkers, makers, and artists, making it a great place for The New School to be.”

Balsamo will present the AIDS Quilt Touch digital experience, a suite of mobile and web apps based on the AIDS Memorial Quilt. The project is supported by Microsoft Research and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Designed and developed at the University of Southern California, the University of Iowa, and Brown University, AIDS Quilt Touch uses data and technology to make the public arts project more accessible than ever. Using AIDS Quilt Touch, the work is searchable, and by zooming in on a specific panel, the viewer can read the vital statistics and biographical details about the individual being honored.

“With the AIDS Quilt Touch experience, we’re demonstrating how art, culture, and history can be enriched by advances in data visualization,” says Balsamo. “It’s thrilling, important work that enables us to introduce this work of cultural heritage to a new generation, and reintroduce it in a different way to people who have encountered it before.”

The New School booth (number 425) will feature the AIDS Quilt Touch on a 40-inch tabletop Microsoft PixelSense display. Balsamo will speak about the project at the Big Heritage, Big Quilts & Big Canvases panel (Sunday, March 10 ) with Brown University’s Andy Van Damm, Microsoft Research’s Donald Brinkman, and Michigan State University’s Ethan Watrall.

Sabine Seymour, assistant professor of Fashion Technology at Parsons, will present The Skin as Metaphor: Fashion, Technology & Body (Saturday, March 9), exploring the future of data-enabled textiles; Professor Colleen Macklin, from Parsons’ MFA Design and Technology program, will draw on work from her Data Toys class at the Newsbots Panel (Saturday, March 9); and Joseph Saavedra, assistant professor of media design at Parsons, will speak on the panel Empowering Communities with Civic Science and Data (Monday, March 11).

Learn more about New School speakers and projects at SXSW here.

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