Unique election night event to examine the campaign through artistic lens

The Purple State blends performance, discussion and exhibition

Release Date: November 2, 2016

Franck Bauchard.

Franck Bauchard

“This is among the roles that art can play to create an open forum where we discuss ideas, art and politics.”
Franck Bauchard, director, Technē Institute
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. – The University at Buffalo’s Technē Institute will present The Purple State, a participatory performance evening that explores the impact of social media on elections, voter behaviors and political polarization, from 8 p.m. to midnight on Nov. 8 in the UB Center for the Arts Atrium and Screening Room.

The event is a colorful and creative blend of performances and exhibitions where people can share ideas amidst the early election returns and see what’s happening through the eyes of the artists, according to Franck Bauchard, director of UB’s Technē Institute and the university’s Arts Management Program.

“This is among the roles that art can play to create an open forum where we discuss ideas, art and politics,” says Bauchard.

A follow-up session also is planned for Nov. 11 from 4-6 p.m. in the CFA Screening Room that features a panel discussion and performances.

Both events are free and open to the public.

The Purple State will open with “The Great Walls,” a performance by Eli Commins, a writer and director who has created a piece based on a workshop with students from the Arts Management Program.

“It’s essentially an image of American life as seen through social networks in the weeks leading up to the election,” says Commins, who often creates and stages non-linear, transformable texts that are an expression of digital culture. “The election is not only about the political aspects of the campaign, but how the campaign affects people in their daily lives and how you can see that in their social media messaging and relationships.”

The Purple State also will feature:

  • The Fascinum, an installation and performance by Christophe Bruno, a Paris-based artist whose work looks critically at network phenomena and globalization.
  • DisSocial Media, an exhibit by Nikolaus Wasmoen, a postdoctoral fellow at UB, that features data mined from social media, which is recreated as a series of remixed, live feeds.
  • RECOUNT, a performance by Igor Vamos of the Yes Men, based on a Yes Lab workshop with participants from UB.

The Nov. 11 event will include a panel discussion on the election process and social media that will bring together Bauchard, Wasmoen and Rebecca Bryan, a UB PhD student, with UB faculty members Tero Karppi, assistant professor of media study; Jacob Neiheisel, assistant professor of political science; and Harvey D. Palmer, associate professor and chair of the Department of Political Science.

The event also will feature a presentation by Laura McGough, a media art historian, which will focus on live broadcasts of elections since the 1970s and a digital performance by Valerie Cordy, director of the Fabrique de Theatre.

The Purple State is a collaboration among UB’s Technē Institute and the departments of Art, Media Study, English and Political Science, and students in the Arts Management Program.

The Technē Institute for Arts and Emerging Technologies was established in 2012.

As part of the university-wide initiative, the Technē Institute fosters new work at the intersection of artistic expression and emerging technologies within the research and pedagogical mission of UB. The institute is designed to support new and existing collaborations among the arts and technology through faculty grants; develop external sources of support; and to promote the arts at UB nationally and internationally through the presentation of new work, visiting artists and community engagement.

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