What is Technology? (2019) examined interactions and transactions among practical arts and tools, techniques and processes, moral knowledge and imagination, to navigate our ever-changing world. In a broad sense, technology can be understood as methods of intelligent inquiry and problem-solving into all domains of life. The conference-experience enacted a collaborative network of transdisciplinary research by cultivating information and communication as the heart of science, technology, engineering, art, medicine, and environments (STEAM+).

2019 marked the ten-year anniversary and ninth annual What is…?, bringing together natural and social scientists, scholars, government officials, industry professionals, artists and designers, as well as alumni, students, community organizations, and the public.

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The CONFERENCE commenced Thursday, April 11th with the 2019 Keynote Panel featuring philosophers Larry A. Hickman (Southern Illinois Univ. Carbondale) and Charlene Haddock Seigfried (Purdue Univ.), and historian Eric Schatzberg (Georgia Institute of Technology). It was followed by the grand opening of the PATTERNS EXHIBITION — on view through May 9th — including science-art works from the Bowerman Lab, Cresko Lab, Doe Lab, Jasti Lab, and others.

The event continued, Friday, April 12th, with a Presidential Welcome by Michael H. Schill (Law) followed by plenaries featuring Carolyn R. Miller (North Carolina State Univ.), Colin Koopman, (Univ. of Oregon), Lana Rakow (Univ. of North Dakota), and Scott Stroud (Univ. of Texas at Austin). The afternoon highlighted the “Technology: Ethics, Aesthetics, and Community” SYMPOSIUM with Seigfried, Schatzberg, Hickman, Miller, Koopman, Rakow, and Stroud, in addition to a micro-workshop on virtual and augmented reality by Donna Z. Davis (UO Portland). Themed panels also included “How New and Emerging Technologies Enhance and Reinforce the Mission of Academic Libraries” coordinated by Jonathan O. Cain (UO Libraries), as well presentations by Ward Cunningham (wiki inventor), John Pavlik (Rutgers Univ.), and many others. The day ended with plenaries on systems biology and the evolution of technology by Len Troncale (Cal State Polytechnic Univ.) and Mark Bedau (Reed College).

The final day, Saturday, April 13th, began with plenaries by principal engineer and research director Melissa Gregg (Intel) and Make+Think+Code executive director Nandini Ranganathan (Pacific Northwest College of Art). The day continued with Peter Golding (Northumbria/Newcastle Univ., UK) and cyborg anthropologist Amber Case (Institute for the Future), followed later that day by Carolyn Marvin (Univ. of Pennsylvania) and Clifford Christians (Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign). The evening commenced with an EXPERIENCE at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) featuring a special live performance by Kenji Williams (NASA) and screening of works by Martina Fröschl and Alfred Vendl (Univ. of Applied Art Vienna, Austria) and Android Jones (Smithsonian American Art Museum). The evening concluded with a RECEPTION and participatory microperformance by Victoria Vesna (UCLA) in collaboration with Siddharth Ramakrishnan (Univ. of Puget Sound).

Some of this year’s cooperations included a workshop with the Journalism from Above Conference (Sweden), as well as the UO Data / Media / Digital Graduate Symposium and a day of events in partnership with the Ecodesign Center’s 25th Anniversary HOPES (Holistic Option for Planet Earth Sustainability) Conference.

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