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Art mixes with technology in Ohio State student-run exhibit

Courtesy of Kenneth Rinaldo

A mobile flowerpot that can light up to scare predators, a backpack that allows for on-the-go martini sipping and a helmet that shows wearers what it’s like to see the world like a bird are among pieces to be showcased this week.

Ohio State’s art and technology students are set to display their creativity Monday evening with a juried exhibition that turns technology into art. The exhibit is set to open from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday in Hopkins Hall.

All of OSU’s nearly 300 art and technology students are required to apply to get into the exhibit, which takes place every semester, and about half, or about 150 pieces, make it in, said Ken Rinaldo, professor of art and technology.

“We really take the very best of what the art and technology program has to offer,” Rinaldo said. “It’s really a very difficult exhibition to get into.”

The theme for this semester’s exhibition is “Action Potential: Center Surround Antagonism,” which Rinaldo said refers to “the way the human eye sees.”

“It has everything to do with the fact that seeing is an act of information processing,” Rinaldo said. “A lot of the students’ works deal directly with the eye and the way we see, and the act of seeing.”

Amy Youngs, Rinaldo’s wife and an associate professor of art and technology, said the exhibition is almost entirely student-run.

“The students are installing the work and organizing where the pieces go,” Youngs said. 

She said the exhibition provides professional experience for the students involved, but is also a fun, interactive event for the public.

“It’s a great experience for visitors to see what art is and what art and technology is,” Youngs said. “It’s fine art, but it’s made with technological tools of all kinds.”

Alex Smith, a fifth-year in art and technology and inventor of the mobile flowerpot, which has wheels attached, also touched on the importance of the exhibition for students.

“It’s always nice to have people look at your stuff and get some feedback on what needs to be improved and what’s working really well,” Smith said. “And it’s a lot of fun to get out and see everybody else’s stuff and bring everybody together for the opening, have some free food, hang out and talk about art.”

This will be the second art and technology exhibition for Smith., 

Rinaldo said that while the prototypes built by students for the exhibit can seem silly, students are still gaining valuable experience by creating them and putting them up for display.

“In a way, of course it seems very impractical,” Rinaldo said about Smith’s mobile flower pot, “but in the process, here’s an artist who’s getting some tremendous experience and understanding on how to both conceptualize and realize an actual idea. In a sense, some of these things, really, they’re at the edge of the real. They actually are building these things and they truthfully are functional prototypes.”

Youngs said a wide range of themes is represented through the exhibit’s entries.

“Some are fun, some are scary, some are emotional, some are personal, some are political,” Youngs said. “It’s a really broad range of themes that the students work with.”

The exhibition will be on display in several areas throughout Hopkins Hall.

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