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Student group focuses on art/technology

"Our main mission is events -- big events," announced mechanical engineering Ph.D. candidate Daniel Paluska.

But that's just one of his goals for Arts and Technology at Tech (ATat), a new student group designed to showcase art and technology.

"We want to expose Boston artists to MIT and MIT artists to Boston, and encourage these artists to show their work," said Paluska, who founded and launched ATat. In addition to showcasing artists whose work embraces technology, ATat hopes to help artists write grant proposals and develop new ideas.

"I'm looking for artists who offer a new take on what a piece of art is," Paluska continued. "At MIT, I'm looking for engineers moonlighting as artists and artists moonlighting as engineers -- people who incorporate some modicum of technology or some new material or process," he said.

ATat's first official events take place this summer: on Saturday, July 21 the group presents "Beats and Bare Feets #1," a day of performances by live electronic musicians from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the steps outside the Stratton Student Center. "Beats and Bare Feets #2" takes place on Saturday, Aug. 18 at the same time and location and will feature DJs, break-dancers and poppers (a subgenre of break-dancing, featuring stiff robotic movements). Both events are sponsored in part by the Graduate Student Council.

In addition to being an impresario, Paluska is a teaching assistant in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and works in the Leg Lab in the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, studying legged locomotion and building dynamic legged robots. He co-hosts a weekly radio program called "Electronic Experiments," a program of live electronic music on WMBR (88.1 FM), and is half of Tek Fu, a live electronic music project that performs live on the radio and at local bars, clubs and parties. He's also an avid snowboarder.

Paluska also admitted he has done some kinetic sculpture, though he hasn't shown any of it yet. "I like to think of the events I plan as my artistic installations," he said.

Looking ahead, ATat will host "Collision -- a day of kinetic sculpture, computer graphics, interactive installations, digital audio, digital video, robots and more" on Saturday, Oct. 6 from noon to 10 p.m. in the Sala de Puerto Rico. The group is looking for artists at MIT and the Boston area who work with technology and would like to participate in this event. "I'm also looking for rich donors," Paluska joked, noting that last year's "Collision" was sponsored by the MIT Dance Mix Coalition. "I don't really have any money this time around, so we'll see what happens."

Members of ATat -- mostly graduate students but also recent graduates and other MIT community members -- meet most Mondays at 7 p.m. in Room NE43-006. Anyone interested may call x3-2475 or send e-mail.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on July 18, 2001.

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