The Emerge Team at Play (and Work)

On November 20, the core Emerge team took a break from our work on Emerge 2015 to begin planning for Emerge 2016. We wanted to try something a little bit different this time; something to match the playful spirit of Emerge. So we began a new tradition: an Annual Mini-Retreat for our merry pirate band to gather and participate in shaping the future of Emerge. This particular event involved improv games, arts and crafts, and discussions about jetpacks. This was serious fun and it helped us brainstorm a new model for Emerge 2016. We also uncovered two truths about Emerge that will serve as guideposts for our future work.

1. Emerge is a collaborative, participant-driven process. Because the future is not shaped by a technology or a field, but by many actors across many networks, visions of the future should be collaborative efforts that draw on multiple perspectives, disciplines, and practices. We envision Emerge as a way to share ideas from collaborative endeavors that cross big boundaries. Artists working with scientists; engineers working with digital humanists; historians working with mathematicians. Varied backgrounds make for richer visions, so we want to foster collaborations between and among new partners from across ASU, Phoenix, and our global network of unusual minds.

Core members of the Emerge team form a “human machine” as part of an improv game to express their roles in Emerge.
Core members of the Emerge team form a “human machine” as part of an improv game to express their roles in Emerge.

To ensure these are strong collaborations, we will recommit ourselves to developing Emerge as a process, and to revealing and reveling in the messiness of that process. This means that the work we show at our annual March event might be in different states of completion. Some may require audience participation to complete, and may be presented in full the following year. Others may be polished performances, or written stories. Still others may be failures. Projects that, for whatever reason, did not work. We want to share those, too, to illuminate the challenges of working across disciplines and the ineffability of the future.

2. Emerge shares visitations of the future When visitors step into an Emerge event, we hope they will feel as though they are stepping into a glimpse of a potential future. The playshops (because these are not your average workshops) developed to help shape these collaborative processes will focus on how to think through the complexities of potential futures. They will help creative teams to design not the dystopian or utopian futures we see on television or at the movies, but nuanced, thoughtful investigations and representations that ask more of an audience than they might be used to, or even comfortable with. These visitations beg questions about whether we want the future they predict, and if so, how we create that future.

The Emerge team uses their visions of Emerge 2020 to think about what Emerge 2016 will look like.
The Emerge team uses their visions of Emerge 2020 to think about what Emerge 2016 will look like.

To better align these two visions of Emerge, the March event for Emerge 2016 will be a culmination of a yearlong process involving quarterly playshops. The first of these collaboration-building events will incorporate a kind of speed dating game to develop partnerships across disciplines. Over the course of the year, these partnerships will periodically meet and be led through a process that involves design prototyping, improvisation games, and even field trips to create their visitations.

We will also be hosting a special event for participants in 2015’s Emerge to bring them together to find connections between and among their visitations. This event will be half party, half playshop, and may well transform what we think we have planned for 2015.

In the next few months, we’ll be introducing our reinvention of Emerge, beginning with never before seen mission and vision language for Emerge and a new handbook for participants. Like the retreat, and the playshops we envision for 2016, these documents are likely to be a transformation of their traditional forms. Won’t you join us?

Request for Qualifications — IN FLUX Cycle 5


Deadline – September 15, 2014 | Midnight Arizona Time 

Projects – Up to 20 opportunities in 7 Valley cities 

Budget – Variable range of $3,500-$7,000 

Eligibility – Arizona Artists* (Individuals and Collectives/Groups/Teams) *Artists commissioned in the previous Cycle 4 are not eligible for the current Cycle 5.


IN FLUX Cycle 5 brings together eleven organizations representing seven Valley cities and towns seeking local artists to create temporary public artworks in a wide variety of locations and media.

IN FLUX demonstrates a holistic approach to temporary public art projects through a showcase of local Arizona artists creating original site-specific installations presented within the context of viewing the Valley as one community. IN FLUX provides unique project opportunities for artists to expand their skills, innovatively apply their creativity, and garner public recognition for their work. IN FLUX offers new perspective on the connections between community organizations, city governments, local businesses, artists, and audiences.

The IN FLUX initiative, currently operated through the strategic partnership of eleven organizations in Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe was launched by Scottsdale Public Art in 2010 to activate vacant storefront spaces. The initiative has continued to expand and gain momentum since its inception, increasing its positive impact on our local communities and our Arizona artists.

To see previous IN FLUX artworks and learn more: 

Project Opportunities 

Potential project locations offer opportunities for artists who create installation-based works as well as murals, projections, performance, and participatory/social practice. Artists submitting qualifications to this call are under consideration for all IN FLUX Cycle 5 opportunities being offered by the 11 partnering organizations in seven Valley cities.

Budgets are all-inclusive of labor, transportation, equipment rental, shipping and material costs as well as artist fees for overhead costs including general liability insurance, installation, and de-installation. All projects are temporary and will remain on view for a maximum of 12 months with installation and de-installation schedules to be mutually agreed upon by selected artists and their respective partnering organization.

Selection Process and Schedule 

Artists residing in Arizona who did not have projects in the previous Cycle 4 are eligible to apply. A selection panel representing all seven cities in a public process will recommend one artist and one alternate per available project opportunity.

Selected artists will be contracted by and work directly with the project manager designated by their assigned partnering organization. Proposals will be requested from selected artists prior to contract. All artists will be notified of selection results via e-mail and given the opportunity to request feedback from the selection panel.

IN FLUX partners seek to provide opportunity, experience, and education to emerging and established local artists. These opportunities are intended to be tenable for those who may not have previously applied for a public art project in addition to providing a fresh approach to artists who have public art experience.

[Schedule is subject to change]


AUG 15 IN FLUX Cycle 5 RFQ Released

AUG 26-SEPT 11 Coffee Talks: pre-submittal meetings (See Questions? below)

Midnight SEPT 15 Deadline for application

SEPT 15-SEPT 26 Artist selection

SEPT 26-30 Notification of selection results

OCT 1 Proposal development by selected artists begins

OCT 31 Projects installations begin (individual project schedules vary and will be determined during proposal development)


JAN-MAY IN FLUX Cycle 5 events throughout the Valley TBD

MAY-OCT De-installations to be scheduled on an individual basis

[IN FLUX Cycle 6 RFQ slated to be released AUG 2015]

How to Apply 

Team submittals must identify one member to act as point of contact for submittal/selection process and all related communication. Artists applying as a member of a team are not eligible to also apply as an individual.

PLEASE NOTE—this call to artists is a Request for Qualifications, NOT a Request for Proposals. Artists who submit specific proposals at this time will be deemed ineligible.

Submit the following: 

  • Digital Images: 5 digital images of previously completed artwork.
  • Resume or CV: Current professional resume or curriculum vitae (CV) including artist address, email, and phone number.
    Teams must submit one resume/CV per team member.
  • Statement of Intent (Maximum 3500 characters):
    Describe why you are interested in an IN FLUX opportunity and explain relevant past experience.



OR meet with IN FLUX Project Mangers in person at one of our four Coffee Talk pre-submittal sessions. We will be there ready to answer your questions one-on-one. 

Bring your draft submittal materials and questions and find us with the IN FLUX logo at our table here: 


Tuesday, August 26 | 8:30-10:30AM Cartel Coffee Lab Scottsdale 7124 E 5th Ave, Scottsdale, AZ 85251 

COFFEE TALK 2 Friday, September 5 | 4:00-6:00PM Bergie’s Coffee Roast House 309 N Gilbert Rd, Gilbert, AZ 85234 

COFFEE TALK 3 Tuesday, September 9 | 5:00-7:00PM GIANT Coffee 1437 1st St, Phoenix, AZ 85004 COFFEE TALK 4

Thursday September, 11 | 8:00-10:00AM Ncounter 310 S Mill Ave, Tempe, AZ 85281 

IN FLUX Cycle 5 Partners 

City of Chandler Public Art

City of Glendale Public Art

City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture

City of Tempe Public Art

De Rito Partners

Emerge ASU

Mesa Arts Center

Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation

Scottsdale Public Art

Town of Gilbert Arts, Culture, and Tourism Board

Whitestone REIT

Digital Tabernacle Photo Stream

During their Digital Tabernacle performance at Emerge 2014: The Carnival of the Future, ministers Marcel O’Gorman and Ron Broglio donned Autographer lifelogging cameras hacked to look like crosses. The cameras automatically snapped still photos throughout the event, demonstrating that although the tabernacle preaches digital abstinence, it is not immune to the sin of irony.

An Autographer lifelogging camera hacked to look like a cross
The cross-cam

Check out the photo stream at the Digital Tabernacle’s Flickr account (ah, there’s the chilly breath of irony again).

To learn more about the Digital Tabernacle, read an article about the performance at Slate’s Future Tense channel.


Lance Gharavi: An Aerialist, Two Clowns, and a Robot Walk Into a Carnival

What do engineering and theatre have in common? They share a focus on performance – the performance of materials, technologies, processes and systems, argues Lance Gharavi, an associate professor in ASU’s School of Film, Dance and Theatre, in a Future Tense article for Slate magazine.

Gharavi collaborated with Jake Pinholster, director of the School of Film, Dance and Theatre, and Srikanth Saripalli, a roboticist in the School of Earth and Space Exploration, to create “You n.0,” a performance for ASU’s Emerge 2014: The Carnival of the Future.

“You n.0,” in Gharavi’s words, is a “series of performed metaphors that address the past, present and future of human/robot relations.” It features Baxter, a cutting-edge industrial robot created by Rethink Robotics, interacting with a cast of aerialists and clowns, and a behind-the-scenes team of technical wizards.

To design the performance, the team started with the question “What can this robot do?” According to Gharavi, “This is almost never an easy question to answer for new technologies, in part because, though capabilities are not unlimited, neither are they certain. One doesn’t so much discover capabilities as produce them. Or rather, one does both. This often involves transforming the technology itself, as well as the processes and means by which you engage the technology. And this is significantly what research in engineering means. It is largely the same in performance.”

To learn more about “You n.0,” including how to control a robot with an iPad and the surprising difficulty of teaching Baxter to pop and lock, read the full article at Future Tense.

Marcel O’Gorman: Confessing Digital Sins

Do you sleep with your smartphone under your pillow? Play Candy Crush during class? Fail to return text messages from your family and friends? If you have digital sins to confess, the Ministers of the Digital Tabernacle will give you penance by locking away your device and forcing you to live without it for a few minutes.

The Digital Tabernacle was one of the featured performances at Arizona State University’s Emerge 2014: The Carnival of the Future, which took place in Downtown Phoenix on March 7. Ron Broglio, an associate professor in ASU’s Department of English, and Marcel O’Gorman, an associate professor of English language and literature at the University of Waterloo, used the performance as a way to shed light on our digital addictions and offer “a space for contemplation in a world of online distraction, neuromarketing and psychotechnology.”

“The project asks us to create new rituals that will save us from the tarnation of digital (de)vices,” writes O’Gorman, in a Future Tense article for Slate.

To learn more about the performance and view a full photo stream of the event taken on Broglio and O’Gorman’s lifelogging cameras, read the full article at Slate’s Future Tense channel.

David Rothenberg: How To Make Music With Drones

What’s the best way to make music with drones? According to David Rothenberg, an experimental musician, professor of philosophy and music, and visiting artist for Arizona State University’s Emerge 2014: The Carnival of the Future, let them give voice to their own secrets and struggles.

“I couldn’t get away from the idea of remote-controlled killing machines dispatched to war zones to eliminate enemies we are too frightened to confront in person,” writes Rothenberg, in a Future Tense article for Slate. “I know, these killings are supposed to be effective and precise, but there is something genuinely creepy about the process. So I decided that in my piece the drones would be talking—confessing to their crimes. Of course, I know they are only following orders.”

In the article, Rothenberg discusses the process of creating his “Drone Confidential” piece for Emerge, focusing primarily on the debate among members of the project team about whether to have humans or computer programs control the drones’ flight paths during the performance. Rothenberg created the piece in collaboration with Srikanth Saripalli, a roboticist at ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration.

Did human pilots win the day, or is Arizona’s best drone pilot a computer? And what does it mean to make art with robots? To find out more, read the full article at Future Tense.

Building a Sand Mandala: An Interview with Geshe Jampa

Tibetan Buddhist monks Geshe Jampa and Ngawang Lama visited Emerge 2014: The Carnival of the Future to create a traditional Sand Mandala at the ASU International Artist Residency Program Gallery at Combine Studios in Downtown Phoenix. View a short documentary film created by ASU’s School of Sustainability about the construction of the Mandala, and learn more about the project at the Emerge 2014 Performances & Magic page.

Ed Finn: The Outsourced Self

We are increasingly outsourcing our identities to computers and algorithms, argues Ed Finn, Director of ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination and Assistant Professor in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and the Department of English. What we traditionally think of as our real physical self coexists with numerous digital “shadow selves” that help store our memories, evaluate our financial reliability and tell advertisers what products we might want to buy, or which TV shows we’ll want to stream next.

“Our digital breadcrumbs now tell stories about us that are deeply secret, moving, surprising – and often things we don’t even know about ourselves,” writes Finn in a Future Tense article for Slate. This outsourcing of selfhood to digital repositories can be disastrous in cases of hacking and identity theft, but the horror stories are only part of the picture. Instead, Finn likens our current relationship with our data to adolescence: “our data is sprouting up in all sorts of weird and awkward places, pumping out signals about us we can barely understand, much less control.”

Read the full article at Future Tense to learn more about lifelogging, using data to construct our own narratives, and the need for all of us to upgrade our algorithmic literacy. Finn’s article is part of a series exploring this year’s Emerge theme, “The Future of Me.”


Image courtesy of infocux technologies, used under a Creative Commons license.

Video: Joel Garreau, Tain Barzso and Emerge on AZTV’s “Morning Scramble”

Emerge co-director Joel Garreau and technical wizard/drone pilot Tain Barzso visited AZTV’s “Morning Scramble” today to talk about Emerge’s Carnival of the Future on Friday, March 7, and about our theme for 2014, “The Future of Me.”

How do we create a future in which we can thrive? Obviously, a carnival is the best place to find out! Join us on Friday, March 7 and experience The Carnival of the Future.

Video: Future Face Lounge Preview

Future Face Lounge is a space where participants define their own histories and forecast their futures through face recognition, touchscreens, sensors and projection technology. Can technology help us break free from preconceptions and prejudices about our identities? Steven Yazzie, a student in the Intermedia program at ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, prototypes a futuristic carnival of categorization:

Bruce Sterling: Using Art to Cross Borders

Bruce Sterling WeldingLife gets intensely personal at national borders, writes Bruce Sterling, science fiction author, design critic and our very own Visionary in Residence at ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination.

In a Future Tense article for Slate, Sterling muses about borders, open-source hardware, cultural dislocation and his interactive installation piece for Emerge, “My Future Frontier/Mi Futura Frontera.”

“Borders are dynamic and morally contradictory,” argues Sterling. “They process the individual, but they’re not built for his participation. You can live near a border, and prosper from tourism and arbitrage, but dwelling within the borderline is metaphysically impossible. A border crossing is a cultural clash.”

“My Future Frontier/Mi Futura Frontera” was designed at the Torino Fablab in Turin, Italy, and is built using Intel’s new Galileo circuit board. Sterling describes it as “a whirling tower of cultural images, surrounded by a jittery pair of marionettes. These polite border-crossing migrants do their best to obey the gestures of the viewer of the artwork. Like most of us in the passport office and the customs waiting queue, they’re doing the best to go through the motions. But they’re puppets of a system that isn’t built for their benefit, and reactions can get out of hand.”

Read the full article at Future Tense to learn more about the U.S.-Mexico border, Arduino and the global tech-hacker scene, and Bruce’s next stop after Emerge. Sterling’s article is part of a series exploring this year’s Emerge theme, “The Future of Me.”

Video: Preview of “The Still” Dance Performance

Julie Akerly, an MFA candidate in ASU’s School of Film, Dance and Theatre, presents a preview of “The Still,” a performance that explores what happens when the exchange of knowledge, ideas, words, and emotions in social media is transformed into live interactions. What does it look like when our desires for privacy and anonymity collide with our appetite to be noticed and to maintain and develop our relationships?