Six arts projects at UCLA have received grants from the Getty Foundation to research and plan exhibitions for the third iteration of “Pacific Standard Time,” which when it opens in 2024 will explore the intersections between the visual arts and science. 

The six grants, which were announced today, total $745,000 and were awarded to the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, Art | Sci Center, Fowler Museum, Hammer Museum, the Film and Television Archive, which is a division of UCLA Library, and the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. The Getty Foundation has provided $5.38 million to 45 arts institutions across Southern California.

The awarding of six grants to UCLA arts institutions highlights the important global arts programming taking place on campus and the school’s impact on the city’s cultural fabric. Across academic programs in the arts and humanities, leading performers, scholars, designers, artists, musicians, makers and thinkers are teaching new generations of creators and conducting research that advances our cultural conversation. Campus’s extensive permanent collections, archives and arts programming bring the world to UCLA and UCLA to the world — providing accessible platforms upon which the civic mission of the university is carried forward. 

These grants will enable transdisciplinary explorations of topics such as climate change, social justice, indigenous practices, science fiction and contemporary art.

The UCLA projects are:

“Breath(e): Towards Climate and Social Justice” — Hammer Museum at UCLA with $215,000 in funding

The lungs of our planet — oceans, atmosphere and forests — are under threat, invaded by carbon emissions, plastics and man-made pollutants. The act of breathing has been rendered even more perilous by the COVID-19 pandemic and police brutality. “Breath(e): Towards Climate and Social Justice” will consider the connections between climate change, environmental justice and social justice through the lens of contemporary art. The project will bring together artists, activists, scientists, designers and architects to address the effects of environmental and climate issues on communities, particularly those that are already subject to social, political or economic discrimination. The exhibition also considers the ethical impact and proposed solutions of climate advocacy through collaborative strategies of intervention, public participation and visual transformation of scientific data. The exhibition will be structured by key themes and modes of artistic production that will serve as referential criteria for artists: eco-activism, soundscapes, lecture-performances, sustainable design and radical architecture, new imaging technologies, engineering ecosystems and climate justice. The curators are artist Glenn Kaino and independent curator Mika Yoshitake.

“Cultures of Corn: The Art and Science of Maize in Mexico and the American Southwest” — Fowler Museum at UCLA with $110,000 in funding

Corn (Zea mays or maize) has occupied a central place in the life and art of Indigenous Americans from the ancient past to the present day. Humans developed a symbiotic relationship with maize, one richly documented in the aesthetic and cultural traditions of Mexico and the American Southwest. “Cultures of Corn” will examine how art has transmitted knowledge about the plant’s properties and life cycle for more than 8,000 years, from ancient Olmec carved jades to contemporary paintings, performances and installations. The exhibition will explore the social, economic, artistic and ritual ties between Mesoamerica and the American Southwest, integrating archaeological research and Indigenous perspectives alongside centuries-old sculptures and artifacts. It will consider the role of maize in ceremonial practices across the region and assess the impact of colonization and industrialization on Indigenous agriculture. Finally, the exhibition will look at the modern culture of corn in Southern California, where maize is often a homegrown food crop and an expression of identity. The exhibition will be curated by Matthew Robb, chief curator of the Fowler Museum, with Wendy Teeter, curator of archaeology at the Fowler Museum, and Patrick Polk, the Fowler Museum’s curator of Latin American and Caribbean popular arts.

“Science Fiction Against the Margins” — The UCLA Film & Television Archive, in collaboration with the cinema and media studies program, with $120,000 in funding

“Science Fiction Against the Margins” explores what takes place when the science fiction genre extends outside of Hollywood and into independent and international filmmaking productions that foreground cultural difference, political injustice and social inequality. Sci-fi films are typically dominated by Hollywood’s action-driven melodramas and state-of-the-art spectacles featuring a heteronormative star who will restore social order, whether on Earth or in space. “Science Fiction Against the Margins” challenges these conventions of mainstream cinema by considering how certain independent filmmakers repurpose established tropes to create alternative representations of race and ethnicity, gender politics and national identity in the construction of speculative cinema. This project will comprise an eight-week, public film series showcasing feature films from around the globe, complementary narrative shorts and television programs, and a groundbreaking anthology of original scholarship on the subject. The project team includes Chon Noriega, director of the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center and distinguished professor of film, television and digital media; and UCLA Film & Television Archive staff: Maya Montañez Smukler, officer of the Archive Research and Study Center; film programmers Paul Malcolm and K.J. Relth-Miller and research assistant Nicole Ucedo.

“Art and the Internet in LA” — UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture with $110,000 in funding

“Websites are today’s most radical and important art objects.” This was the dictum of Miltos Manetas, artist and founder of Electronic Orphanage, a short-lived art space in Los Angeles’ Chinatown, where websites could be seen through the windows of an empty gallery. “Art and the Internet in LA” will explore the history of artists in Los Angeles who have worked with, responded to, and transformed the internet from the pivotal moment in 1969 when UCLA Professor Leonard Kleinrock made the first internet transmission from his laboratory to Stanford University, through the emergence of the World Wide Web, to the ubiquitous influence of the internet today. While the internet is often seen as being placeless, focusing on Los Angeles-based artists will demonstrate how specific social, political, environmental and cultural context still shapes artistic work. In a novel approach, the exhibition will be crowdsourced: an online research portal will allow artists and community members to contribute information about artworks and make connections between them through keyword tagging. The project team will then collaborate with local curators and communities to identify key themes and select pieces for inclusion in the final exhibition. The project will be led by UCLA design media arts professors Casey Reas, Lauren Lee McCarthy and Chandler McWilliams, as part of the UCLA Arts Conditional Studio.

“Atmosphere of Sound: Sonic Art in Times of Climate Disruption” — UCLA Art | Sci Center with $90,000 in funding

“Atmosphere of Sound” is a multi-year research project culminating in a large-scale exhibition of sound-based art. UCLA Art | Sci Center proposes to explore the relationship between sound as a post-object art form, and our shifting relationship to the world of things as necessitated by climate change. The culminating exhibition, hosted by UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance, will present sound and moving image artworks that respond to climate change as the condition of our times. Live performances and a print publication with interactive augmented reality elements will accompany the exhibition in 2024. The research phase of the project consists of artist residencies, panel discussions and workshops hosted by the UCLA Art | Sci Center on Westwood campus. “Atmosphere of Sound” will be organized and curated by Art | Sci Center Director Victoria Vesna and guest curator, Anuradha Vikram.

“Verdant Worlds: Exploration and Sustainability across the Cosmos” — UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies with $100,000 in funding

“Verdant Worlds” is a collaboration between UCLA’s Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories of the California Institute of Technology, or CalTech GALCIT. The project seeks to explore the ways in which artists, scientists and imagineers informed each other, envisioning seemingly unimaginable futures, transforming fantasies into realities as they looked beyond known limits to dream of new verdant worlds. The resulting collaboration and research will be transdisciplinary in nature and includes major scholars, world-renowned artists and some of the most innovative scientists in the world. It will result in an exhibition at USC Fisher Museum of Art about exploration and sustainability in the Spanish and British empires, as articulated by scientists and artists; the entanglement of these European ideas with indigenous epistemologies; and their legacies in art and science today, including NASA’s scheduled trips to the Moon and Mars in 2024. The collaboration also includes an exhibition catalogue, with contributions by major scholars that will define the topic for years to come. Charlene Villaseñor Black, professor of art history and Chicana and Chicano and Central American studies at UCLA, and Morteza Gharib, professor of aeronautics and bioinspired engineering at CalTech, will participate in and oversee research, curation, programming, and publications.