Fuse Factory’s hands-on programming exposes the public to new media by exploring the relationship between art and technology.
Art and technology have been intertwined since the beginning of time. Whether it’s been writing tools attributed to the earliest cave paintings or the silk screen printing made famous by Andy Warhol, technology has long provided artists with new ways to express themselves. Fuse Factory, a nonprofit art and technology lab in Columbus’ vibrant Clintonville neighborhood, is promoting the relationship between art and technology to the public through hands-on workshops, art exhibitions and performances. It’s a place for innovators to explore new possibilities—yet another way the Columbus tech community is growing.
“We started the Fuse Factory with a four-part mission,” said Dr. Alison Colman, Founder and Executive Director of the Fuse Factory. “We exist to educate through our hands-on programming, serve as a conduit between artists and the community, provide support to artists by connecting them with technology and professional development initiatives, and partner with local and national new media and art organizations. We’ve been keeping our promise since we started in 2007.”
The Fuse Factory set out to change the perception of what is possible in art and performance by putting forms of creative, forward-thinking expression—often deemed too “academic” or “fringe” for the public—at center stage for a general audience to experience. Whether the workshop is on soldering and LED graffiti, using sound technologies to score a film, or partnering with The Cap City Biohackers to introduce audiences to “bacteria art,” The Fuse Factory is interested in tearing down preconceptions about daring explorations between art and tech.
The Fuse Factory calls Clintonville home, a trendy, lively neighborhood north of downtown and the OSU campus. The neighborhood—cited as a contributing factor in the designation of Columbus as 2017’s “top hipster market” in the U.S.—is a hotbed for art and culture, a residential destination for students at nearby OSU and Columbus College of Art & Design, a haven for fashion designers and home to a thriving startup scene, with nearly 72 startups for every 1,000 businesses in the area.
The nonprofit operates with ongoing support from many community partners, including the Greater Columbus Arts Council, the Ohio Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts and The Columbus Foundation. They’ve also worked with Founders Factory, Taivara, Big Kitty Labs, the Columbus College of Art & Design, the Ohio State University Department of Art, and the Ohio State University-Mansfield. It’s this community support, Colman says, that makes Columbus such a great place for the Fuse Factory to make an impact in art and technology.
“It’s critical. I started this without really knowing what I was doing beyond what I read in the books I got on building a nonprofit from the library. It’s been the willingness of community partners which has helped us grow over the last ten years,” said Colman. “People are really passionate about furthering the arts and promoting understanding of the relationship with technology, so they’ve really come together to help make the entire mission a success.”