Jian Ghomeshi appears at RAM speaker series

Jian Ghomeshi addressed a packed house at THEMUSEUM in Kitchener on Nov. 12 as part of the gallery’s RAM: Rethinking Art and Machine speaker series.

Ghomeshi, the host of the CBC’s Q, has interviewed a number of high profile individuals, including Margaret Atwood, Salmon Rushdie, Noel Gallagher and Stephen King. His show touches on a variety of cultural topics.

Rethinking Art and Machine features artists that are exploring the relationship between art, electronic technology, light, graphics, robots and virtual reality. THEMUSEUM describes the exhibit as an interactive survey of the work and ideas of the featured artists and of the understanding of its aesthetic and socio-cultural aspirations.

As one of the most highly regarded radio broadcasters today, a proponent of social media and technology, and a musician himself, Ghomeshi was a perfect fit to spark discussion for the RAM speaker series. Ghomeshi’s talk included a discussion about the imaginary division often created between pop culture and high culture, saying that “pop culture is culture.”

Ghomeshi also revealed that the opinions of older generations on technology has impacted those of the younger generation, saying that when he started Q he was told that young people had ADD, and was advised to keep interviews under eight minutes in length. Ghomeshi proved these assumptions wrong and showed that what young people crave and appreciate is good content.

Ghomeshi has embraced technology as part of his life, explaining how social media platforms, specifically Twitter, enable people to discover news and information in real time. His show, Q, is available on YouTube and millions have watched his interviews through this social medium.

Ghomeshi’s discussion on how technology has impacted the ways we interact with one another and the world related perfectly to the RAM exhibit. The artists involved in the exhibit, including Jim Campbell, George Legrady, Manfred Mohr, Alan Rath, David Rokeby, Daniel Rozin and Peter Vogel, have created unique works that express how each artist integrates personal life experiences with the machine, often resulting in the humanization of machines.

RAM also explores and breaks down the barriers that traditionally exist between the artistic and the technological disciplines. In a society that often seems to emphasize this division, Ghomeshi provides a unifying view, saying, “Part of innovation and certainly new technology, in a lot of cases as well, has an artistic bend to it.”

Despite the connection between art and technology that Ghomeshi and the RAM exhibit reveal, this is a time when we are seeing funding directed at technological innovation and away from arts programs.

When asked about the impact of said funding cuts, Ghomeshi told The Cord, “It’s part of a broader philosophy that suggests that arts or culture or fine arts are not an important part of the educational experience, and this is simply not true, in terms of studies that have been done on the importance of an arts education on everything from interacting with one’s own creativity to critical thinking.”

Ghomeshi also believes that art is an integral part of our society. “I particularly lament hearing about cuts like this… because I happen to think that Canada is a particularly artistic country. We have a very strong artistic legacy, and I would think that we should be supporting that legacy that is so important to our very identity,” he told The Cord.

THEMUSEUM’s RAM: Rethinking Art and Machine is a fascinating artistic exploration that mirrors many of the cultural concerns of our time. This exhibit can educate young and old about how our lives are intertwined with technology and machine, and it highlights the importance of art in understanding our role in a changing technological world. The exhibit will be on display until Jan. 22, 2012.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated since its original publishing date.

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