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Sun Valley Center for the Arts P O Box 656 Sun Valley, ID 83353




Rayguns, Robots, Drones: Technology’s Peril & Promise January 13–March 25, 2017 A BIG IDEA Project of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts

Center hours & location in Ketchum: Mon–Fri 9am–5pm Sats in Feb & Mar 11am–5pm 191 Fifth Street East, Ketchum, Idaho Sun Valley Center for the Arts P.O. Box 656, Sun Valley, ID 83353 208.726.9491 •

Cover: Mahwish Chishty, At the Twilight, 2013, limited edition screen print on ­tea-stained paper, courtesy the artist Mailer: Bearbrick figure, Collection of Ruth & Jake Bloom, photo: Kelly Eisenbarger Vintage rayguns, Jeri L. Wolfson Collection, photo: Kelly Eisenbarger Introduction Panels: Michael A. Salter, Giant Styrobot, 2008, Styrofoam, glue, from the exhibition Too Much, Rice University Art Gallery, Houston, Texas, courtesy the artist Inside, from the top, left to right: Kal Spelletich, In Supplicatio Praying Hands, 2014, wood, metal, hardware, ­electronics, courtesy the artist and Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco John Isiah Walton, Sentinel, 2016, watercolor, ink, gesso and collage on board, courtesy the artist

110 N. Main Street, Hailey, Idaho 208.578.9122

Michael A. Salter, Big Styrobot, little friend, 2009, Styrofoam, glue, from the exhibition Robots: Evolution of a Cultural Icon, Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita, Kansas, courtesy the artist Nate Galpin, DR6/OGI (Obtuse Gravity Indicator) and No. 1, 12.3.16, 2016, courtesy the artist

Rayguns, Robots, Drones: Technology’s Peril & Promise January 13–March 25, 2017 Since the first of our ancestors used a rock as a hammer, human beings have utilized ­technology to extend our ­capabilities and make difficult tasks easier to accomplish. As a species, we tend to embrace technological

­ dvances as progress and often take an a idealistic view of the promise they hold for a better, more comfortable future. But can any technology ever exist solely for good?

Rayguns, Robots, Drones: Technology’s Peril & Promise January 13–March 25, 2017 A BIG IDEA Project of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts Ketchum, Idaho Science fiction authors have written books imagining worlds in which technology becomes a threat when robots try to take over the world. But isn’t this more than just the stuff of fiction? Inflated fears about the negative impact of technology date as far back as the Industrial Revolution, when Luddites protested textile production systems that would put them out of work. Today, we seem to be on the threshold of a new age in automation and artificial intelligence—a time of driverless cars and workerless factories. What kinds of human-powered jobs will exist in the future? Will those who own the robots exist at the top of a new kind of economic structure? And what happens if—when—artificial intelligence outpaces human intelligence? Drones present the same simultaneous promise and threat the robots embody. They can deliver food and medicine, and aid in search and rescue, but are also tools for remote attacks. How do we balance a technology’s potential for harm with its possible benefit? While the science fiction genre is full of stories of robots turning against their human masters, it’s also a realm for imaginative fantasy about a world in which robots and other technologies make our lives leisurely and stress-free. The Jetsons’ house was cleaned by Rosie the robot, who cheerfully tidied up. B9, the robot on Lost in Space, warned the family whenever they were in danger. The word “robot” actually comes from the Czech word robota (forced labor), and was coined by playwright Karel Capek in 1920 in the play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots), about mass-produced workers who possessed all human capabilities but had no soul. Unlike the automatons of R.U.R, though, Rosie and B9 were part of the family. Friendly, helpful robots are part of an array of fictional technologies that offer easy fixes to the challenges or drudgery of daily life—technologies like the raygun, which emits a targeted stream of rays as it neatly vaporizes or stuns one’s enemies. What could be simpler?! This BIG IDEA project allows us to take a closer look at the role of technology in both our real lives and our fantasies. Using robots, drones and rayguns as metaphors for technological advances, we’ll examine the duality of technology’s inherent promise and potential danger. How can technology lead to a better future? What happens when a new technology is used for purposes its creator may never have imagined?

M U S EU M E X HIBITIO N Born in Pakistan, Mahwish Chishty uses her training as a miniature painter to address contemporary political and social issues. During a 2011 visit to her home country, Chishty was struck by the pervasive presence of drones in Pakistan—both in the air and in people’s conversations. She began a series of paintings of drones covered with imagery drawn from Pakistani folk art traditions, including truck and bus decorations. For this exhibition, she has designed a model Predator drone that fills The Center’s Project Room ceiling. Motivated by a desire to understand whether automated machines can create beauty without human intervention, Wood River Valley ­artist Nate Galpin has built several robots that make drawings. Each of Galpin’s robots uses a ­different mechanism to produce drawings that will be displayed on The Center’s walls as they are made. Can there be art without an artist? ­ Michael Salter is well known for his Styrobots, giant robotic figures built from recycled Styrofoam. Created from the cast-off packing materials that protect many of the electronic products we purchase, the looming robots allude to our ambivalent relationship with technology. At The Center, Salter is building a Styrobot from foam collected here in the valley. Kal Spelletich’s Intention Machines are robotic sculptures that blend art and mysticism with science. Featuring praying hands, or a rotating prayer wheel, for example, his sculptures imbue technology with the spiritual. John Isiah Walton’s War Games paintings emerged out of his childhood exposure to TV commercials for games like Battleship, a steady diet of A&E war documentaries, and an interest in Japanese anime. Loose wash paintings of drones and robots on board game boxes, his works consider the growing role of technology in warfare around the world. The exhibition also features a selection of toy rayguns from the Jeri L. Wolfson Collection, Bearbrick figures from the collection of Ruth & Jake Bloom, and toy robots for visitor interaction.

Exhibition Opening Celebration

Fri, Jan 13, 5:30–7pm The Center, Ketchum Join us as we celebrate the opening of Rayguns, Robots, Drones. Artists Michael Salter and Nate Galpin will discuss their work at 6pm.

Evening Exhibition Tours

Thu, Jan 26*, Feb 23** & Mar 16***, 5:30pm The Center, Ketchum Enjoy a glass of wine as you tour the exhibition with The Center’s curators and gallery guides.

considered one of the world’s leading experts on changes in 21st-century warfare. Singer’s book Wired for War examines the implications of robotics and other new ­technologies on war, politics, ethics, and law in the 21st century. Wired for War made the New York Times nonfiction best-seller list in its first week of release.

“Blew my f***ing mind… This book is awesome.” —Jon Stewart, The Daily Show

*The Jan 26 tour features special guests Taan Robrahn, Captain of the Sun Valley Fire ­Department, and Lieutenant Brian Carpita of the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office, who will discuss the use of drones for search and rescue in our ­community.

E vent

**Following the Feb 23 tour, artist Mahwish Chishty will lecture about her work.

Idaho State VEX Robotics Championships

***During the Mar 16 tour, Wood River High School’s 2017 Robotics Team will discuss and demonstrate the technology they have created for competition in the VEX Robotics ­Championships.

Gallery Walks

Fri, Feb 17 & Mar 10, 5–7pm The Center, Ketchum

Artist Talk: Mahwish Chishty

Thu, Feb 23, 6:30pm The Center, Ketchum Mahwish Chishty’s artwork combines her training as a miniature painter with a consideration of contemporary warfare. Her talk will illuminate her artistic choices, from the sources of her imagery to a 2011 visit to Pakistan that inspired her interest in drones. Chishty is an Assistant Professor at Kent State University and currently the subject of a solo exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in London.

Fri, Feb 24, 10am–5pm Community Campus, Hailey Coinciding with Rayguns, Robots, Drones, Wood River High School is hosting this year’s Idaho State VEX Robotics Championships. It is the qualifying event for the World Championships in Louisville, Kentucky, in April. Approximately 33 teams will be in attendance. Come out to ­support our local roboticists!

F ree Family Day Rayguns, Robots, Drones

Sat, Mar 4, 3–5pm Channel your inner robot! Express yourself through movement and create your own robot dance. Join special guest and dance instructor Melodie Taylor-Mauldin in creating hip-botic dance moves! Family Day events at The Center provide special opportunities for multiple ­generations to explore art and ideas together.

Presented in partnership with Boise State ­University’s Visual Arts Center.

Film Zero Days

Thu, Jan 26, 7pm Magic Lantern Cinemas, Ketchum $10 / $12 nonmembers A documentary thriller from Academy Award® winning filmmaker Alex Gibney about the world of cyberwar. When the U.S. and Israel launched a black ops cyber-attack on an Iranian nuclear facility, they unleashed malware—the Stuxnet virus—that infiltrated its pre-determined target only to spread its infection outward, ­exposing systemic vulnerabilities that threatened the safety of the planet. The most comprehensive accounting yet of how a clandestine mission hatched by two allies with clashing agendas opened the Pandora’s Box of cyberwarfare. (116 minutes)

L ecture P.W. Singer

Thu, Feb 9, 6:30pm Church of the Big Wood, Ketchum $25 / $35 nonmember $15 student / educator (limit one per educator) P.W. Singer is the author of multiple award-winning books and is a contributing editor at Popular Science. Described in The Wall Street Journal as “the premier futurist in the national security environment,” Dr. Singer is

Grounded by George Brant

Sep 28–Oct 15, 2016 Liberty Theatre, Hailey Last fall, Company of Fools presented George Brant’s Grounded as a prelude to Rayguns, Robots, Drones. Grounded is the story of an ace fighter pilot whose career in the sky ends early due to an unexpected pregnancy. Reassigned to operate military drones from a windowless trailer outside Las Vegas, she hunts terrorists by day and returns to her family each night. At the Liberty, Grounded starred Hanna Cheek, named one of Time Out New York’s “Future Legends of NYC Theatre.” The set featured a model of a Reaper drone designed by artist Mahwish Chishty, whose work is part of The Center’s Ketchum exhibition.

Sun Valley Center for the Arts

Rayguns, Robots, Drones: Technology's Peril & Promise  

Since the first of our ancestors used a rock as a hammer, human beings have utilized technology to extend our capabilities and make difficul...

Rayguns, Robots, Drones: Technology's Peril & Promise  

Since the first of our ancestors used a rock as a hammer, human beings have utilized technology to extend our capabilities and make difficul...