This weekend 130 UC Berkeley students enjoyed the opening weekend of internationally recognized artist Isaac Julien’s video installations at Fort Mason Center for Art & Culture and at San Francisco Art Institute. Students explored San Francisco’s newest art compound and saw a range of exciting installations. KAPITAL documents the public discussion “Choreographing Capital,” which was held at London’s Hayward Gallery between the artist, social theorist David Harvey, and an audience of academic luminaries such as Irit Rogoff, Paul Gilroy and the late Stuart Hall. The most ambitious new work, PLAYTIME, is a seven-channel video installation that tracks the effects of global capital on different region of the world; it features a cast of international film stars including James Franco, Maggie Cheung, and Mercedes Cabral. Students were thrilled by the event—“this is even more amazing than I thought it would be,” said one student of PLAYTIME; “how does Isaac Julien think with seven screens?" Aligning with Berkeley Arts + Design’s efforts to offer arts access to students, the exhibition and round-trip transportation to the exhibition were complimentary thanks to a generous donation from Cal alum and Cal parents, Pamela and Richard Kramlich. “I’m just really happy to be here right now," said another student of the Fort Mason art compound, "this is the best study break ever.” The visit to the exhibition followed Isaac Julien's talk with Judith Butler and screening of Franz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask at UC Berkeley last Monday as part of the Arts + Design Mondays @ BAMPFA's free public lecture series Public (Re)Assembly.
In addition to having free access to the exhibition, students were amongst the first to test out a model of the new UC Berkeley Digital Arts Engagement Platform, a mobile application and game that is currently being designed and developed by a team of Masters of Engineering students from the Fung Institute For Engineering Leadership. Attendees were offered round trip transportation to the exhibition and were encouraged to invite friends to the experience; the engagement platform seeks to encourage more participation in the arts at Berkeley. During the research and design phase of the application, the engineering team found that some Berkeley students were hesitant to go to arts events alone. The trip to see PLAYTIME and the engagement platform were designed to promote group attendance and participation. With attendance reaching 130 students over the two-day-trip period, the engagement and accessibility model worked, exceeding the group's expectations. More opportunities for arts access and digital engagement are being planned for Spring 2018.