In the 20th and 21st centuries, the pursuit of knowledge has directed humankind to new horizons – the ocean depths, the infinite reach of space, and the hidden secrets of cells and microbes…or to Artificial Intelligence, which while spawned from the minds of humans, has no humanity at all. Or has it in fact become sentient?
The language of discovery has infused most disciplines, whether one speaks of public health “moonshots” to end cancer or the effort to “chart” the human genome. Yet, these endeavors coexist with other vessels for knowledge, which bring history to bear on the present. And, as we know, if we pause to remember and think back (or forward), religion, folklore, and art have always preserved cultural knowledge across generations.
Similarly, physical spaces — from the hearthside to kitchen tables, to archives and libraries — drive what knowledge has been passed on, and how. In cultural traditions across the globe, storytellers, artists, and musicians have used their craft to explore and imagine the limits and the scope of knowledge, with the aim of bringing those insights to their communities.
This year’s Conference will feature authors and artists whose work considers the role of the arts in exploring and charting our shared past, our present, and our uncertain future. They will discuss how storytelling, aesthetics, and the arts facilitate an understanding of these horizons, while fostering community and discovery. As always, we also wanted some hands-on arts experience, so there will be workshops and opportunities for those in attendance — in person at UND’s Memorial Student Union or online — to share and create their own work, which will hopefully bring a little joy to all as we wait for spring to finally arrive.
The Conference will feature readings, panel discussions, workshops, a reading by "Voices of the Valley," and open mic sessions. All events are free and open to the public in person (at UND Memorial Union in Grand Forks) or online. Registration is necessary to receive your Webinar Zoom link. For more information, visit the Conference website at www.undwritersconference.org or follow us on Facebook (@UNDWritersConference) or Twitter — um, we mean “X” (@UNDWritersConf).
By Nicholas Baldwin
Ariann Rousu’s trajectory as an artist and designer took an unexpected turn when she joined the AI Lab at the University of North Dakota. Initially tasked with testing the range of motion of a NASA spacesuit for Mars, Rousu explored data analysis and motion picture capture — experiences that honed her visual skills as an artist.
Rousu now creates innovative digital worlds for the Native Dancer Project team, a multi-user computer environment for competitive powwow dancing that features dance regalia found in dances custom to the Ojibwe, Dakota, Lakota, and other Northern Plains associated nations.
Rousu’s unique perspective is formed by “growing up on a reservation in Callaway and as a member of…