Making Art Work With W. Patrick McCray

On November 18, join author and historian W. Patrick McCray in conversation with science scholar Michele Pridmore-Brown to discuss his new book Making Art Work: How Cold War Engineers and Artists Forged a New Creative Culture. This book looks at the collaborations between artists, engineers, and scientists from the 1950s to the present and explores how new creative cultures were built and maintained.

"In Making Art Work, W. Patrick McCray asks why and how American artists and engineers collaborated to produce this kind of technological art in the 1960s and 1970s. In our current moment, so obviously marked by the American government’s failure to deploy scientific expertise against a pandemic, and by demonstrations against white supremacy and police brutality larger than those of the 1960s, this book also provokes additional questions. Of what did technological art make people aware? Could it in fact contribute to solving social problems like hunger, homelessness, and war? How did patriarchy and white supremacy shape this art and the awareness it produced? What roles did women and people of color play in constructing and contesting it?"
- Peter Sachs Collopy, the Los Angeles Review of Books

Speakers

W. Patrick McCray

W. Patrick McCray is a professor in the Department of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Originally trained as a scientist, he is the author or editor of six books. McCray’s 2013 book is The Visioneers: How an Elite Group of Scientists Pursued Space Colonies, Nanotechnologies, and a Limitless Future won the Watson Davis Prize fin 2014 from the History of Science Society as the “best book written for a general audience.” His new book – titled Making Art Work: How Cold War Engineers and Artists Forged a New Creative Culture – appeared with The MIT Press in October 2020. This book looks at the collaborations between artists, engineers, and scientists from the 1950s to the present and explores how new creative cultures were built and maintained. In addition to receiving several grants from the National Science Foundation – including $15 million to create a national center for exploring the societal implications of new technologies – McCray has received fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the California Institute of Technology, and the Smithsonian Institution. He is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Physical Society (APS). In 2016 and 2017, McCray was an invited speaker at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

Michele Pridmore-Brown

Michele Pridmore-Brown, Ph.D., is the science section editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books. She is also a research scholar at the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine and Science at UC Berkeley. She writes about topics ranging from Virginia Woolf's use of scientific metaphors to the history and future of reproductive technologies.




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