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‘Wide Angle’ Benefit Raises $85K for UAM

Academy Award-winning director Anthony Minghella shared his perspectives on technology and culture in modernist cinema at a recent sold-out benefit that raised more than $85,000 for CSULB’s University Art Museum.

The inaugural “Wide Angle” benefit signaled the official launch of the UAM’s new art and technology initiatives incorporating film, new media, music and popular culture with the museum’s highly recognized visual arts program.

 Proceeds from the event are funding the museum’s first art and technology series “Project Lab,” which includes three cutting-edge installations highlighting 3-D sounds, gesture-recognition and a stand-alone artificially intelligent, hyper-instrument from the world’s first digital robotic opera designed by the Media Lab at MIT.

“Examining the influence of technology, media arts and popular culture on art is reflective of our culture’s shift in recognizing the importance of these new art forms and expressive media, and a natural evolution for a contemporary museum situated on a Southern California campus,” said UAM Director Christopher Scoates.

The new arts and technology programming is the first step in a broader vision by Scoates, who took helm of the 30-year-old UAM more than a year ago. He hopes to eventually expand the museum’s footprint to a more central Long Beach location, creating a cultural hub and visitors’ center.

“Anthony Minghella’s appearance,” Scoates pointed out, “is the first step for the University Art Museum in working with established film directors and producers to raise funds for exhibitions that represent artists working in collaboration with designers, scientists and engineers at the frontiers of art, science and technology.”

“Films haven’t changed, they’ve just gotten faster,” Minghella told an audience of more than 250 people that included production designer Alex McDowell and artists Sant Khalsa, Bob Knox and Bret Price, with additional support from director Sydney Pollack. He predicted that “the current leaps in technology, the digital age, will have a radical and convulsive impact on cinema as we know it, not the least in making it available to anybody and everybody, giving cinema the opportunity to grow, change and perhaps dwindle as a commercial enterprise while flourishing as an art form.”

The evening’s festivities, hosted by Stephanie and Stephen Salyer at their Killingworth estate, began with an Art & Experiences auction followed by a four-course dinner and a multi-media presentation by Minghella. Afterward, a live auction included a round-trip excursion to New York to see Minghella’s new production of “Madama Butterfly” at the Metropolitan Opera.