The Next Conversation: “Innovation”

Event Date: Tuesday, December 11, from 7:30 to 9:00 pm. Admission is free. Tell your friends.

Location: Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle

The Summary

This time, we’re talking about innovation, how we create and re-create the world around us. Read on below for details. And note the slight change in time, 7:30 rather than the regular 7:00.

The Guests (See below for bios)

Janet Galore, creative director, designer, artist

Demi Raven, oil painter, firmware developer, maker

Elizabeth Scallon, head of WeWork Labs, Seattle

Thomas Deuel, neuroscientist, neurologist, musician

The Story

We’re exploring innovation, the process of coming up with new tools, new products, new ways of doing and making, and often, new ways of thinking and creating. But what exactly is innovation? It’s one of those terms that cries out for definition. Is it the same thing as invention, or is it something completely different? How does the act of discovery factor in? We tend to identify innovation with positive change. Is it always so? How can innovation create a negative effect?

Jon Gertner has done a lot of thinking about innovation, especially in terms of the many products and technologies that Bell Labs developed through the 20th Century. Gertner writes: 

So how did the leadership at Bell Labs define innovation? It was not simply a discovery or an invention. On the contrary, innovation defined the lengthy and wholesale transformation of an idea into a technological product, or process, meant for widespread practical use. Almost by definition, a single person, or even a single group, could not alone create an innovation. The task was too variegated and involved. The innovation process usually involved frustration and failures. It required time, money and sometimes decades of painstaking work. But in the end, a true innovation had scale and impact. It replaced an existing technology with something that was demonstrably better, or cheaper or both.

This definition focuses on technology. But innovation also appears across a number of endeavors, from science and art to the nature of government and human social intercourse.

Seattle and King County, for example, are both widely known for being not just early adopters of public art programs, but for also pioneering new financing models and creating innovative procedures for selecting, siting, and making the art.

It’s a process that has, for better or worse, formed the city we live in. Over the past decades, Seattle has been arguably a city uniquely driven by innovation. Most of the major industries here got their boost from some level of innovation: Boeing and the development of the commercial jetliner, Microsoft and Amazon with a series of revolutions in what we do with computers, even down to such companies as REI and Nordstrom, as innovators in the ostensibly simple act of buying and selling clothing.

Then there’s the whole question of innovation in art; what does the introduction of new materials, technologies, and techniques do, or not do, for art? Are we a center for innovation in the arts? Or not?

Come and talk about it.

The Guests in Detail

Demi Raven is an oil painter, firmware developer, and maker. He has been an active part of the visual arts community in Seattle for over twenty years. Demi was an early member of the visionary SOIL Artist Cooperative, where he spent nearly six years developing, curating, exhibiting, and co-managing the gallery. In the late 1990s he was a founding editor and writer for RedHeaded StepChild (1999-2001), a local periodical devoted to the review and discussion of the emerging art community in Seattle. In 2006, Demi was a finalist in the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition and exhibited for six months at the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Demi has been a firmware developer for over 15 years, designing and prototyping a number of new consumer hardware products. He currently is a manager and lead engineer at Amazon Prime Air. You can see more about Demi’s artwork at http://demiart.com.

Janet Galore is a creative director, designer, and artist. She holds a BS degree in pure mathematics from the UW, where she continued with three years of graduate studies in mathematics. Her early career was spent in start-ups designing for emerging technologies at Zombie VR game studios and freelancing for new ventures. She animated dead fish for a few years as co-creator of the surrealistic FishBar series, producing and directing some of the first streaming media on the Internet at Honkworm International. She spent 10 years at Microsoft working in the Strategic Prototyping group at Microsoft Research, and is now a creative director at Amazon working on future user experiences. Janet has co-curated a number of art exhibitions and continues to create her own art in film, animation, and conceptual works that blend digital and physical experiences. You can see more about Janet’s work at http://janetgalore.com.

(Janet and Demi own a private art studio called The Grocery on North Beacon Hill in Seattle. The studio is used as a project-oriented creative space where they host occasional pop-up art exhibitions, film screenings, workshops, dance, music performances, and other creative activities. The building has deep roots in the community, born as a corner grocery store that served the neighborhood from 1929 through the late 1990s. They seek to support and incubate creative endeavors that give voice to and enrich the local community.)

Elizabeth Scallon is the Head of WeWork Labs, Northwest. WeWork Labs is a global entrepreneurship program connecting global innovation hubs, while providing fierce local support for startups and entrepreneurs.
Previously Elizabeth lead CoMotion Labs at the University of Washington, a multi-industry, multiple location incubator system hosting over 90 startups from both inside and outside the University of Washington community.
She holds a Global Executive MBA from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, Walsh School of Foreign Service, and ESADE’s Business School, along with a BS degree in biochemistry and a BA degree in humanities from Seattle University.

Thomas Deuel, the director of the DeuelingThumbs StudioLab, is a neuroscientist, musician, sound artist, and neurologist.  The creation of the StudioLab reflects his desire to combine his interests and skills in understanding brain physiology with those of music composition and sound art, to re-enable patients with motor disability to create music again for healing.

He is a staff Neurologist and Clinical Neurophysiologist at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, WA.  He is also Acting Assistant Professor at the School of Music and DXARTS at the University of Washington, where he is the Director of the Art & Brain Laboratory.  He holds both an M.D., as well as a Ph.D in Neurobiology, from Harvard Medical School and M.I.T., in addition to a certificate in Jazz Studies from New England Conservatory.

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