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By Danielle

By midday on Friday, UNC was buzzing with spring campus activity. This was the first time that I had ventured off Franklin Street on to the camus in my four years in the Triangle; obviously I was lost at a college at least three times the size of Duke. Luckily, I soon discovered with delight and relief that my directional handicap would not hold me back … the CHAT festival was everywhere.

My mission was to check out Collaborations: Humanities, Arts & Technology festival: CHAT 2010. Located in arts and administration buildings around campus, the festival spanned five days last week. Each day lectures, performances and workshops exhibited the power of new media and cutting-edge technology to transform the arts and humanities. Interactive website, videogames and performances fluidly danced between the real and digital world challenging a viewer’s mental separation of the two.

Directed by student passerbyers, I came upon an arts building filled with student project exhibitions. As I wandered playfully by vibrant screens, and through electo-acoustic sound bites, participants were friendly and animated. It was too bad that I’d missed the dance party in Gerrand Hall the previous night featuring local DJs but, “I was going to see a lot of awesome stuff.”

I eventually located Hyde Hall where professor and musicologist Mark Katz prepared for a symposium on the ‘Art and Culture of the DJ.’ (Mark contributed an essay to the catalogue that accompanies the upcoming exhibition “The Record: Contemporary Art & Vinyl.”) Till this moment my interaction with DJs and turntables had been limited to late night parties and chaotic concerts. Here academics, musicians and music enthusiasts were gathered for a post-lunch discussion of the impact of digital technologies on the dynamic art form. How naive of me to have so narrow an understanding and exposure to the DJ culture! Naturally, the future of an art form only complemented by the technology age is boundless.

For those of you who are intrigued, I will admit that I cannot do the multisensory engaging performances justice through words. Luckily the festival is an annual event, so CHAT will be back to satiate your curiosity in 2011.

Danielle Garver is a senior public policy major at Duke.

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