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UNC Digital Arts and Humanities Festival Takes Shape

UNC Digital Arts and Humanities Festival Takes Shape

At a July 28 meeting of all faculty working on projects for the CHAT festival, attendees updated the group on their projects and provided feedback and suggestions.

Following months of planning and outreach, the Institute’s digital arts and humanities festival, CHAT (Collaborations: Humanities, Arts & Technology), has taken shape as a collaborative initiative drawing together units across campus as well as the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI); faculty from Duke University and North Carolina State University; and corporations in the Research Triangle Park.

CHAT, which will take place on the UNC campus February 16-20, 2010, will showcase the possibilities for innovative, collaborative arts and humanities work enabled by technology by drawing together the region’s diverse digital resources in a series of performances, colloquies, demonstrations and training sessions.

In a time of diminished budgets and resources, the festival will emphasize the power of collaboration, says IAH Director John McGowan.

“Now, more so than ever, is the time to pool our resources and show that we are stronger together than we can be on our own," McGowan said. "We’ve been surprised at and flattered by the enthusiasm that people at UNC and from the local area have shown for the festival.”

The Institute is working with faculty, staff and graduate students throughout campus to produce the festival. Some of our key partners include RENCI, UNC Information Technology Services, the Department of Music’s Festival on the Hill, the Office of Arts and Sciences Information (OASIS), the School of Information and Library Science (SILS), the School of Education, Wilson Library and Carolina Performing Arts.

From the local area, our faculty and staff are collaborating with colleagues at Duke University’s Information Science + Information Studies unit; North Carolina State University’s Advanced Media Lab; Icarus Studios, a gaming company collaborating on a faculty project; and HASTAC, a collaborative consortium focused on new technologies based at Duke. In addition, we are working with a number of other Triangle-area corporations, including Cisco Systems and Lenovo, on possibilities for partnerships. For a full list of our Friends of the Festival, visit

The festival’s events will explore the ways digital technologies are changing how we learn, think, know, teach and express ourselves both as individuals and as communities. To that end, we have divided the festival into five major components:

  • Faculty and Student Projects: At present we have 11 multidisciplinary arts and humanities faculty projects that use technology as a medium. Many involve inter-university teams with UNC faculty and staff collaborating with peers at RENCI, Duke and North Carolina State universities. Faculty will exhibit and present their projects during the festival. Joyce Rudinsky, IAH Associate Director for Digital Initiatives, is working with select faculty to organize a number of student projects drawing on talent from all three universities. 

    Festival on the Hill “The Art and Culture of the DJ”: UNC music professors Mark Katz and Stephen Anderson are organizing the biennial Festival on the Hill event to take place during CHAT and focus on digital music. With a robust schedule of performances, including a DJ/Veejay dance party, and colloquia featuring experts in digital music, their events will provide a vibrant musical component to the festival.

    Keynote Lectures and Panels: Each afternoon February 17-19, CHAT will feature a keynote lecturer who will then moderate a panel discussion with local faculty and industry pundits. Keynote lectures will explore topics like technology and culture, the future of the Internet security and video games.

    Teaching Clinics: As part of an outreach initiative to the citizens of this state, the Institute has partnered with the School of Education to offer a series of technology workshops that will provide K-12 teachers continuing education credits. Faculty will also be able to participate in workshops that demonstrate tools for integrating technology into the classroom.

    Carolina Performing Arts (CPA) BRAVE Collaborative Performance: Sure to be a highlight of the festival, CPA has lined up a performance by STREB Dance Company, composer David Van Teighem and the MIT Media Lab. Tickets will be available for sale for the February 19-20 performances. 

This first CHAT festival will, we hope, be part of a continuing effort on the part of the entire University community to establish the Triangle region as a national leader in the exploration, integration and interrogation of digital technologies by the arts and humanities.

CHAT Faculty Working Group Meeting, Joseph MegelToday, the country’s leading research universities are focusing substantial resources on research into the emerging role of digital technologies in the arts and humanities. Major granting institutions are likewise investing heavily in arts and humanities research that explores the educational and cultural possibilities afforded by digital technologies.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has a unique opportunity to establish itself as a leader in this most forward-looking field of arts and humanities scholarship.

Doing so will help the University retain both its reputation as a cutting-edge research institution and its ability to attract the best arts and humanities scholars and students as we move into an increasingly digital future. For the Institute, the festival serves as an opportunity to showcase innovative work already being done in the Triangle, to demonstrate the enormous potential of collaborative work and to help UNC recruit and retain top faculty.

For the most up-to-date information about the festival, visit Follow us on Twitter at UNC_CHATfest, or follow our updates on Facebook: Visit and search for "UNC Institute for the Arts and Humanities," then click "Become a Fan" at the top of the page.


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