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Sarah Rara, a 2017 AxS Incubator artist, has been awarded a LACMA 2018 Art + Technology grant. The grant awards include monetary and in-kind support for projects that engage emerging technologies. The Art + Technology Lab and its artist projects enjoy the support of an advisory board composed of the leading innovators across a variety of technological industries. Advisory board members lend their experience and expertise and help drive the conversation around how museums will use new technology in the future.

Rara will research human navigation and how it is mediated by video images. In addition to working with the Lab’s advisory board, she will continue her work with Caltech’s Dickinson Lab, where her research initially took shape. The project is called Ellipsoid Body, a reference to a ring-shaped brain structure within fruit flies that is needed for navigation.

“In 2017, Fulcrum Arts’ AxS initiative made it possible for me to embed as an artist-in-residence in the Dickinson Lab at Caltech, where the neural and biomechanical basis of behavior in the fruit fly is studied using virtual and interactive video environments.

Art has a specialized vocabulary as does biology—part of the value of bringing artists and scientists together is learning to translate between discourses, to distill our respective research into core ideas. In this vein, the biologists I worked with taught me new descriptive frameworks for perception, networks, and time. I delighted in studying a non-human (insect) gaze. As a model system, the fruit fly had a great deal to teach me about seeing as a function of the link between sensation and behavior. Observing how fruit flies respond seamlessly to video and virtual reality environments, I began to consider the divide between onscreen and offscreen experience, and different artistic strategies for altering, augmenting, and exploring navigation systems.

I am extremely grateful for the generosity of the Dickinson Lab in welcoming me into their community of research, and for the support of Fulcrum Arts in initiating this experiment in bringing together the arts and sciences.”
—Sarah Rara