Good Neighbors: SVA and Google Get Acquainted

June 14, 2012

Laura Murray (BFA 2012 Fine Arts) recently teamed up with Google engineer Baris Yuksel to organize a tour of Google NYC’s offices and a panel discussion for SVA students, faculty and alumni. The event, “May I Borrow a Cup of Sugar?” explored how artists use technology in their creative practice; recent alumni Benjamin Herndon, Lorelei Ramirez, Melissa Skiadas and Lucia Love Mooney-Martin (all BFA 2012 Fine Arts) were among the panelists. Murray and Yuksel, who have become friends through school and work, decided to organize the gathering after realizing that Google and SVA are in fact, neighbors, with buildings across from each other in the Chelsea neighborhood.

The event was part of Google’s TGIAF (Thank God It’s Almost Friday) program, where each Thursday, Google engineers invite diverse scholars to speak about their work. According to Yuksel, Google engineers are extremely creative innovators but tend to lack a general knowledge of the fine arts world. Engineers are always interested in how processes function, and he thought it would be interesting to have a conversation about process as it relates to art making.

After the tour and talk, the SVA group was invited to view an exhibition of student artwork before experiencing a site-specific performance by Lorelei Ramirez. Her piece, Human Tools for Human Connections, featured the panelists blindfolded and scattered randomly throughout the room. Google staff members would then whisper words or phrases to the performers that they would then repeat into a microphone. Eventually, the conversation turned to the issue of privacy and highlighted the ways in which technology alters communication.

Afterward, students were treated to a meal prepared by Google chefs and then played ping-pong, foosball, and Guitar Hero in Google’s game parlor. “I saw a lot of SVA students and grads talking with Google engineers,” Murray said, “which I think is the whole point of this project, to create a dialogue between the two institutions.”

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