The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Princeton Atelier will present a talk by author and consultant Alex Pang on “Contemplative Computing: Reclaiming Attention in the Age of Distraction” as part of a course entitled “Pay Attention: The Art of Here and Now” being taught by theater director Marianne Weems. The talk will be held on Thursday, November 6 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the James M. Stewart ’32 Theater at 185 Nassau Street and is free and open to the public.

alex pang

Photo by Kristian Kettner

Pang studies people, technology, and the worlds they make. He is an advocate for contemplative computing, the effort to design information technologies and experiences that don’t distract us and fracture our attention, but help us focus, concentrate, and be creative. His latest book, The Distraction Addiction, was published by Little Brown in 2013 and has been translated into five languages. Pang works as a senior consultant at Strategic Business Insights, a Silicon Valley think-tank. He received a Ph.D. in history and sociology of science from the University of Pennsylvania.

The undergraduate course taught by Weems questions whether our sense of the present — to which we are meant to be attentive — has changed, and the impact of Twitter, Instagram and the “selfie” on making art. The course draws upon various perspectives with guest speakers, of which Pang is one, focusing on spirituality, neuroscience, ontology, psychology, and gaming to investigate these questions of modern consciousness.

Weems is the co-founder and current artistic director of the Obie Award-winning, New York- based performance company, The Builders Association. This company creates interdisciplinary, multi-dimensional stage performances by incorporating actors with audio and visual elements, and has been recognized internationally as a leader of theatrical innovation. In addition to directing theater, Weems’ expertise includes dramaturgy, interdisciplinary media, and the intersection of the arts with technology. She recently directed a multimedia workshop with Disney Creative Entertainment and Walt Disney Imagineering. Weems is currently collaborating with David Byrne and Fatboy Slim on Here Lies Love, an original theater/music event.

The Princeton Atelier was founded by Princeton Professor Emerita Toni Morrison and is directed by Paul Muldoon, Princeton’s Howard G.B. Clark ’21 Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Creative Writing. This unique academic program brings together professional artists from different disciplines to create new work in the context of a semester-long course. A painter might team with a composer, a choreographer might join with an electrical engineer, a company of theater artists might engage with environmental scientists, or a poet might connect with a videographer. Princeton students have an unrivaled opportunity to be directly involved in these collaborations.

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