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Moogfest is out with new details about the art installations, exhibits, discussions and workshops hosted by a group of prestigious organizations that range from RTP, Burt's Bees, IBM and Duke University locally to the MIT Media Lab, Google and Kickstarter. 

They join already-announced headlining presenters like transhumanist entrepreneur Dr. Martine Rothblatt, virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier and Cyborg activist Neil Harbisson, a lineup that should give a hint about the controversial topics that will take center stage during afternoon sessions planned during the technology and innovation portion of the event, coming May 19-22 to downtown Durham.

I struggle a bit to describe the following presentations and groups. That's because they all include either art that must really be seen, sound that must really be heard and technology that really needs to be experienced live. The point of Moogfest is to immerse yourself for three days in a world where all of these things collide and challenge conventional thinking with their diversity, uniqueness and creativity. 

But here's my best attempt at explaining the types of experiences to anticipate during the day at Moogfest.

Let's start with the locals involved:

RTP Converges

RTP will present Convergence, which in 2014 included a virtual reality experience that took festival-goers all over downtown Asheville wearing headsets. Moogfest describes this year’s convergence experience as “a striking visual workspace and interactive conversation series that will inspire collaboration and dialogue between art, sound, science and technology enthusiasts.” The art and design collective Floating Point of Brooklyn will create it.  

A recent Floating Point project for Levi’s Station to Station tour involved connecting four antique objects like a typewriter, guitar, still camera and video camera that post to social media sites like Twitter and Instagram via programming on embedded Raspberry Pis. 

WiFi Whisperer

McKinney is making it possible for your mobile computing at the festival to become visualized as data and made into sounds by the WiFi Whisperer, a project by Brooklyn-based open-source media artist Kyle McDonald. A previous McDonald project involved an eavesdropping lamp in a McDonalds restaurant in New York which “listened” in on conversations and tweeted them, totally out of context, via the Twitter handle @conversnitch. All it took was a Raspberry Pi, microphone and the power from the light.

Buzzing Bees at Burt's

There’s local involvement from Burt’s Bees, which will use the buzzing bees in its hives for a sound-art installation at the American Tobacco Campus. 

Duke's Interdisciplinary Brains

Duke University is spotlighting Professor of Black Popular Culture Mark Anthony Neal, who will host a discussion with rapper and songwriter GZA about hip hop, space and the concept of afrofuturism (the impact of technology on black culture and art). Neal is founder of Duke's new Center for Arts, Digital Culture and Entrepreneurship and host of a weekly webcast series called Left of Black.

Engineering professor Martin Brooke and dance professor Tommy DeFrantz will team up for an art installation. DeFrantz is director of Duke's SLIPPAGE, a research group exploring how technology can be used in live performance to help tell stories. He's performed SLIPPAGE projects all over the world. The pair partnered initially in 2013 to teach a class titled "Performance and Technology" to train engineers to think like artists and artists like engineers, which Brooke talks about here

Electrical and computer engineering professor Steve Cummer will experiment with technology to create unconventional sound waves. His past work has applications for military—it could help detect underwater mines—or architects as they determine the acoustic needs in spaces. 
There will also be workshops by the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, which has a research group that combines humanities with neuroscientists and another looking at the way certain molecules impact sleep, metabolism, learning and memory. Its Bass Connections Brain and Society program brings together students from across campus into teams to research and address issues the involve the brain in modern society. 

IBM Watson, as DJ and Cancer Researcher

IBM Watson Ecosystem projects will be on display and explored during sessions led by the computing giant. Unveiled just last year, its new partner program integrates what's called Watson's "cognitive technology" into businesses of all kinds. It already has at least one interesting local integration—a DNA sequencing experiment with UNC's Lineberger Cancer Center that could lead to more effective treatment of cancer patients. 

Though the Watson group is based in New York, IBM is working to open a Watson showroom at its Research Triangle Park campus for customers to learn how they might integrate Watson into businesses from healthcare to food to music. And speaking of music, festival attendees will get to compose new songs with "DJ Watson" during the festival.  
And now, the national and international groups planning workshops and events during the events:

Google Doodle Talk

A Google "Talk Show" style panel should be fun and inspiring. It features Google Cardboard user experience designer and prototyper Manuel Clement, former Pixar artist Emma Coats famous for her “22 Rules of Storytelling” and internationally known Boston comic artist Scott McCloud. The discussion will be led by Google Doodle's Ryan Germick, instigator of the first playable Google Doodle, which celebrated the 30th anniversary of PAC-MAN in 2010. According to a recent article in The Telegraph, his team produces about 400 doodles a year, of which up to 100 are animated and 12 interactive. Hundreds of Googlers around the world submit ideas to help guide their creation.  

Emotional Instruments

The MIT Media Lab stage was one of my favorite parts of Moogfest 2014. It’s back with presentations by the Opera of the Future group, which creates new instruments called Hyperinstruments that integrate computers with human emotions and are meant for anyone to be able to use. 

Museum-y Startups

An year-long incubator housed within New York's The New Museum's NEW INC. will showcase the creations of its artist, engineer and entrepreneur members. It'd be cool to see the first water-filtering floating pool or a project that recreates the theater experience or a device called INSTRUMENT 1 that sounds like virtually any instrument. All of these projects were part of the museum's recent Demo Day. 

Festival Sneak Peaks

Several festivals are getting involved by giving Moogfest attendees a sneak peak of their own content. San Francisco nonprofit Gray Area, which encourages the use of technology in the creation of art and design projects that impact the world, will host workshops similar to those offered in California and at its annual Gray Area Festival.  

MEGAPOLIS Audio Festival, an annual summer festival, includes podcasters, technologists and artists "obsessed with sound." At Moogfest, it will host a series of discussions and workshops about the history and evolution of radio. Here's a recap of last year's MEGAPOLIS.

And Eyeo will host coders, digital designers, artists and others for "sound art and sculptures" workshops. The Eyeo Festival has happened in June in Minneapolis every year since 2011 and explores art, interaction and information.

Recreating the Telephone Exchange

A Brooklyn artist with a fascination with repurposing old telephone equipment into synthesizers will take over the lobby of The Carrack in downtown Durham. Moogfest describes the work of Lori Napoleon, or Antenes, as a "manual telephone exchange office combining audio synthesis, sculpture, hacking and technology."

An email yesterday from Moogfest counts just 100 days till the global-in-scope festival takes over downtown Durham for the first time. Stay tuned for more details on the lineup as the festival gets even closer.