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Brittany Ransom mixes technology, science and art to create various media

Published April 12, 2019

Brittany Ransom, head of Long Beach State’s Sculpture Program and an artist with a penchant for mixing physical media with high technology, will travel to Pachuca, Mexico this month as the campus’ first faculty member to provide mentorship abroad through the American Arts Incubator project.

Pachuca is the capital city of the Mexican state of Hidalgo, about 60 miles north of Mexico City. While there, Ransom will help participants use technology as means of artistic expression to address topics related to cultural identity and inclusion.

“I will lead four different workshops while working with CITNOVA (a Mexican agency). One example is a project that explores audible stories through e-textiles where participants will use materials like conductive thread, microcontrollers and programmable audio recorders to create and explore personal narrative and histories through wearable technologies and garments,” Ransom said.

CITNOVA, which is based in Hidalgo and boosts science and technology, is supporting Ransom’s work in Pachuca. Ransom also is receiving support from U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which sponsors American Arts Incubator missions to several countries, as well as ZERO1, an arts nonprofit that manages the program for the State Department.

ZERO1 compares its approach to arts education to the way business incubators support start-up companies. In this sense, ZERO1 awards small amounts of funding to workshop participants to foster works that blend technology with their respective artistic visions.

Ransom’s visit is being billed as an opportunity for participants to work with modern fabrication technologies such as e-textiles, laser cutting and CNC machining, and that “the overall goal of these workshops is to allow participants to use these new methods to create narrative-based projects that focus on cultural identity.”

Ransom works in different physical media while creating her own artworks. She uses advanced technologies, such as 3D printers, laser cutters and CNC milling machines to produce materials, and has created multiple works involving living insects.

“I am someone who works between a number of materials and evolving digital tools and processes,” Ransom said.

Ransom’s oeuvre includes Primitive Borders, a large ant habitat in which, according the artist’s website, insects and their interactions invite viewers to think about human social relationships and conflicts; Fossilized Guilt, which includes a CNC-milled replica of a fossilized tooth that was discovered on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard; and Jaw Jabblrs, a collection of electronic dog toys designed to help dogs communicate to people.

“I’m always exploring relationships and animal systems and how they run parallel as metaphor to our human organizational structures,” Ransom said.

Under Ransom’s leadership, the sculpture program at Long Beach State provides a place for artists to create works in a variety of media that in some cases, have facilitated creative expression for millennia, or in others, are new methods of addressing the human experience.

Long Beach State’s sculpture students can study materials like wood and bronze that have been used since ancient times, as well as materials crafted through modern techniques such as 3D printing and video production.

“Professor Ransom's innovative vision for the sculpture program is a terrific fit within the overall focus we have developed for our arts training here at the Beach: We honor the past while forging new paths forward, ever mindful of the global nature of art and community. Her selection as one of the AAI fellows is not surprising. She is a truly brilliant woman,” College of the Arts Dean Cyrus Parker-Jeannette said.

Ransom’s work in Pachuca is schedule to span the days from April 26 through May 18.