Imaginary Worlds: Living in Space

People have fantasized for ages about what it would be like to live in space. If Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos achieve their goals with Space X and Blue Origin, life in space might not be science fiction any more. I look at two different dreams […]

Several people's faces, separate from one another, against a white background, with an image of the Moon looming above.

Emerge: Luna City 2175

Emerge will transform ASU’s Galvin Playhouse into a rich, immersive experience grounded in space-science research and the inspirational vision of our Writer-at-Large, Kim Stanley Robinson. Come see, hear, touch and play the future in our unfolding story of human habitation beyond Planet Earth! On Saturday, March […]

VIVORIUM. Ali Schachtschneider, photographed by Hiu Zhi Wei.

Emerge 2017: Frankenstein

EMERGE is an annual transmedia art, science and technology festival designed to engage diverse publics in the creative exploration of our possible futures. The festival’s 2017 theme is Frankenstein, a 200-year old novel that still motivates us to think critically about our creative agency and scientific responsibility. This […]

Jad Abumrad holding a light bulb

ASU invites community to help redesign the future at Emerge 2015

Radically new visions of the future will be showcased as part of Arizona State University’s Emerge 2015 – a one-day event featuring visionary Jad Abumrad, host of the award-winning show Radiolab, and 10 spellbinding “visitations from the future,” including theatrical performances, improvisation, games, dance and hands-on opportunities to design and build the future.

5 Burning Questions: David Rothenberg

In this episode, we talk with interspecies jazz musician and philosopher David Rothenberg. David appeared at Arizona State University’s Emerge: Carnival of the Future on March 7, 2014 to perform alongside flying quadcopters and the band There Is Danger. Click here to watch a clip of the performance, titled “Drone Confidential,” and visit Slate’s Future Tense channel to read an article about the process of creating the performance. Check out this transcript of the interview, or watch the video below!

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is David Rothenberg. I am a musician and philosopher and I’m known for playing music with various creatures: birds and whales and insects.

What are you looking forward to in the future?

I’m looking forward to greater understanding between people with different points of view around the world. I’m looking forward to solving the problems that plague us now.

What are you dreading most about the future?

What I dread most about the future is, I think, what I dread most about the past; the capacity for people to do really terrible things to one another. Some part of us really enjoys that. People have always known how to be evil. The tendency is inside all of us. This isn’t going to go away. It’s something that really has to be tempered and watched.

How can musicians and philosophers help us prepare for the future?

Music has always brought a lot of joy to people. It’s always one of those things that has taken people’s minds off of the worst problems of any age throughout history, and now into the future. But I like the idea of making music with sounds from beyond the human world, playing music with musicians who [you] might not have previously thought were musicians, like 17 year cicadas and humpback whales. These animals are making music and when you realize that, the whole world becomes just a little bit more beautiful and accessible in an artistic way. And it’s like I find this wonderfully exciting new way of looking at things. So one way music can make the world seem ever more alive [is] if you listen more carefully, listen more closely.

How can we teach and learn for the future?

Be open to all kinds of new ways of perceiving everything, to try and understand. There’s a famous idea in philosophy in the 20th century that we can’t understand what other beings think. “We’ll never know what it’s like to be a bat,” said Thomas Nagel. Or Wittgenstein said, “If a lion could talk, we would not understand him.” And I just don’t think those things are true.

Humans do learn more and more about the world around us, but we still know hardly anything. There’s so much going on, and it’s so huge and so vast. The more time we spend trying to learn about the surrounding world, the better we will understand it and be able to save it and fit into it – without destroying it and running it all over with our ideas and our certainty about ourselves.

What story or piece of music most inspires you?

One piece of music that I think of is a piece by Olivier Messiaen, the French composer, called the “Quartet for the End of Time,” which is one of the most famous pieces of 20th century classical music. Many things are known about it, like it was written in a prison camp when Messiaen was a French soldier captured by the Germans and he was imprisoned in France. He was allowed to write this piece of music and instruments were found, and the performance was held – at not quite a concentration camp, but a prison camp – of this very experimental work of music. It was especially experimental at that time, but also it’s very accessible and it’s about the pain and beauty of the 20th century, if you listen to the whole thing. It sort of encapsulates what’s best about 20th century music.

An Aerialist, Two Clowns, and a Robot Walk Into a Carnival …

In his 1984 film The Terminator and its sequels, James Cameron imagines a dystopic future in which armies of intelligent robots move with startling suddenness from positions of servility to utter and violent dominance, destroying civilization and driving humankind to the brink of extinction.

This, of course, is pure science fiction. There’s little reason to believe things will unfold that way. First, they would take all our jobs and wreck our economy.

This is the nightmare narrative of our future with robots and artificial intelligence. The utopian version of this tale—one accepted by many powerful people in industry and government—involves a …read more

Confess Your Digital Sins

A voice cries out in the desert:

“Know thyself, not thy selfies!”

“Digital media will not save you!”

“The zero is not whole and the one is not The One!”

Technically, we’re not in the desert—we’re in a dusty parking lot in downtown Phoenix. And the voice is not coming from the Prophet Isaiah, but from professor Ron Broglio, whom I’ve ordained as a Minister of the Digital Tabernacle. As people wander into the massive circus tent at Arizona State University’s Emerge: Carnival of the Future, they are greeted by a pair of shifty evangelists preaching the analog Word. (Disclosure: …read more

How to Make Music With Drones

The good thing about performing music with drones is that they always show up for rehearsal on time. The bad thing is that they might suddenly drop out of the air and onto your head.

I learned all this while putting together a piece called “Drone Confidential” for Arizona State University’s Emerge, a “Carnival of the Future” that was held in Phoenix recently. Emerge is an annual circus of cool new technologies in performance, dedicated to showing how artists and machines can work together to create something awesome. …read more

Technology, Craft and Spirituality: Building a Gyroscopic Mandala

Our friend Thad Trubakoff, an MFA student in Woodworking at ASU and a contributor to our recent Cautions, Dreams and Curiosities anthology, just let us know about a cool new project, which he calls “Gyroscopic Mandala.” Check out the demo video and read Thad’s guest post about the project below. To learn more about ASU and Mandalas, which have been popping up around here a lot recently, visit our Emerge 2014: The Carnival of the Future website: http://emerge.asu.edu.