September 15, 2014, BY Heather Johns

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Samek Art Museum Director Richard Rinehart has dedicated his professional life to studying new media art. He helped to found the Berkeley Center for New Media, and even co-wrote a book on the subject. 

But what he really wants to do is build bridges.

Metaphorical bridges, of course.  

"Part of what attracted me to Bucknell was our strong engineering program, and the prospect of building bridges between technology and art," explained Rinehart. "When I arrived, I found like-minded colleagues in other departments, each of whom shared an interdisciplinary background and interest. We decided to launch our current collaborative efforts as the first steps in a longer journey."

The faculty who are working with Rinehart on these efforts are Professors Alan Cheville, chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering; Paul Botelho, music; and Jonathan Bean, management.

The result of their collaboration is a new course and lecture series — an exciting mix of art, engineering, music and management that reveals the beating heart at the core of a Bucknell liberal arts education.

Culture-Technology Intersections brings internationally renowned speakers to campus to present their creative work at the intersection of art, engineering, music and design. Speakers include artists whose work uses robotic technology, electro-acoustic musicians, and leading engineers and entrepreneurs of new media.

"The campus community can gain inspiration from this series," said Botelho. "My hope is that we will be able to forge the creative and technical disciplines here at Bucknell."

Weaving in and out of the lecture series is UNIV 201: Creative and Critical Approaches to New Media, a colloquium that presents the central topic of new media through several disciplinary lenses. It is co-taught by Rinehart, Cheville, Botelho and Bean.

"The idea of boundaries is one of the things I see emerging from this project," said Cheville. "Boundaries are rarely fixed, mostly fluid. It is the exploration of the boundaries — where our social conventions set them — that is interesting about the collaboration."

"Cross-disciplinary programs such as this take the liberal arts project one step further by connecting knowledge across disciplines; fitting together the pieces of the knowledge puzzle," said Rinehart. "This course and lecture series bring together related subjects (new media as art, new media as technology, new media as design) along with multiple methods for understanding the creative process and thinking critically about the products of new media."

The lectures will take place in the Gallery Theater in the Elaine Langone Center at 6 p.m. on Sept. 17 and Oct. 1, 8, 22 and 29. The series is free and open to the public.

"I hope that people walk away empowered to try something new," said Cheville, "to dare to cross a boundary they had been respecting without even knowing it was there."