October 28 (opening reception 6-8pm) - December 31, 2010


RSVP REQUIRED: School groups can request opportunities to visit 

LOCATION: Google, Inc.  75 Ninth Avenue, 2nd floor New York City

New York, NY – Digital Art @Google, an exhibition program launched in June by Google and The Project Room for New Media (CAM), announces the opening of Ancient Stories with Modern Technology, opening October 28 at Google NYC. The exhibition includes National Geographic explorer and photographer Chris Rainier, media artist and author Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky) and media artist and speech recognition researcher at Google, Andrew Senior.

Most of the world’s nearly seven thousand languages are oral and within this century, forty to fifty percent of them will no longer exist. As they vanish, we lose entire universes of the conceptual thought, practical knowledge and technologies that they contain. Preservation efforts align with Google’s mission to take all the world’s information and make it accessible and useful to everyone.

Ancient Stories with Modern Technology features the celebrated photographs and videos of Chris Rainier. Rainier is the noted National Geographic explorer and photographer who works with the Enduring Voices Project team, including eminent ethnolinguists David Harrison and Greg Anderson who direct the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages. The Enduring Voices Project uses technology to document and revitalize endangered cultures and their repositories of knowledge in areas of science, medicine, technology, and the natural world that are crucial to humankind.

Both Chris Rainier and Paul D. Miller use advanced digital and web technology to honor and aid threatened cultures.

artTEKtech Tanna is an installation by media artist Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky) presenting the first works inspired by his vision for the Vanuatu Pacifica Foundation. With this new artists residency initiative launching on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu’s South Pacific archipelago, Miller asks, “Can 21st Century technology support Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) in ways that enrich village life and Contemporary Art?” Miller’s active interest explores indigenous-digital connections, modernization’s current impacts on South Pacific micro-cultures and how island & urban artistic encounters might inform Contemporary Art.  Sustainability Consultant, Janna Olson, is the Curator and Project Director of artTEKtech Tanna.

Vanuatu Pacifica Foundation’s residency-in-context program – developed in response to the request of a Naihné Tribal Chief – is designed to address the artist’s role in nurturing systems that feed rich cultural expression.

Ancient Stories with Modern Technology presents two works by Andrew Senior, media artist and speech recognition researcher at Google. Senior investigates cultural nuance and interpretation of language in Machine Translation and linguistic traits that betray a speaker’s origins in Shibboleths named after a word used to distinguish friend from foe in biblical times.

Digital Art @Google was initiated with the intention of engaging Googlers with the art world and promoting creativity with digital technology. The exhibitions and artist talks, which take place at Google, Inc, are open to guests at times indicated on the website.

The first exhibition, Data Poetics on view June 11 through August 13 included data-based work by pioneer digital artists. We Write This To You From The Distant Future, August 20 – October 22, a multi-media exhibition of work by visionary creators in the arts and sciences, focused on a future world imagined and possible to build.

Digital Art @Google is curated by Nina Colosi, Curator of The Project Room for New Media at CAM and founder of its public art program, Streaming Museum, which presents exhibitions in cyberspace and public spaces on 7 continents. The program was inspired by pioneer video artist Nam June Paik who in the 1970s envisioned the Internet, predicting an “information superhighway” as an open and free medium for imagination and exchange of cultures.

According to Colosi, “A natural synergy exists with Google in this partnership. The Project Room for New Media’s program showcases artworks and educational programs which incorporate technology and the Internet in the creative process.”

Digital Art @Google emphasizes the correlation of Google’s mission in organizing the world’s information and making it accessible, with the ability of artists to reflect and synthesize information in the creation of artwork that expresses the contemporary world. The exhibitions and speaker programs will inspire, entertain, and help envision the world in new ways.

The exhibition program was initiated at Google by Josh Mittleman, User Interface Software Engineer, and supported by the Google Community Affairs committee at Google New York City. Mittleman described the motivation of the exhibit, “Art is one of many tools that can help to organize and make sense of the world’s information. Digital Art @Google NYC is the first step toward introducing the digital arts community to Google, and to starting a conversation that will lead to a rich, ongoing collaboration.”

Information on the current and past exhibitions and artist talks:

About Google, Inc. Google’s innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major global markets. Google’s targeted advertising program, which is the largest and fastest growing in the industry, provides businesses of all sizes with measurable results, while enhancing the overall web experience for users. Google is headquartered in Silicon Valley with offices throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.

Support for Digital Art @Google provided by the Google, Inc. Charitable Giving Fund of Tides Foundation

Image 1: Gibe & Pipe, Huli wigmen, in Southern Highlands, Papua New Guinea. Traditional ceremonial paint colors: Mali-ambua-hare, Waterfall: Iba-Fugu.

Image 2: Papua New Guinea. The Enduring Voices team interviews Koo Yandabage and Sam Ako, both Ipili speakers, at Tari. Thomas Nokondi (far left) observes. Photographs: Chris Rainier

Images 3,4: Putting digital and web technologies to use connecting with Tanna’s youth: Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky) lectures on literacy to a packed school house at Tafea College, a rural Secondary School of 350 students.




Enduring Voices Project

Ancient Stories with Modern Technology is inspired by numerous stories of how technology is creating cross culture communication - and exploration. Please see examples of Cultural Revitalization at the National Geographic’s Enduring Voices Project.

We live at a crucial crossroads in human history. On one hand we have state of the art levels of global communication and technology that reach into the most isolated parts of the planet, from the jungles of the Amazon to the cyber cafes of Timbuktu, Mali. We have put a man on the moon, and solved some of the most daunting medical challenges that have plagued the human species since the dawn of mankind. We have split the atom and have created the world’s smallest computer on the head of a pin. We can search Google from anywhere on the planet and read license plates from space.

Yet, sadly, we are destroying the planet at unprecedented levels. At present rates the glaciers of Greenland will all be melted within thirty years, the last untouched rain forests on the planet will be gone by 2050, and over half of the world’s population today live in city dwellings. What will happen to the last ancient peoples that live just beyond the chainsaws that destroy those sacred forests, or the nomads that drift across the shifting sands of the Sahara? They too, are disappearing at catastrophic rates. Most of the world’s nearly seven thousand languages are oral and within this century, forty to fifty percent of them will no longer exist.  With them will go a rich tapestry of knowledge, wisdom, and deep understanding of their world - our world - that is simply passed on from generation to generation in the ancient stories as told around the campfire of tradition. So within several generations a vast amount of the world’s knowledge could simply die away with the passing of that elder who traditionally was the wisdom keeper of the culture.

Facing this daunting fact, cultures around the planet are taking a stand and using modern technology: still and video cameras, computers and the internet in amazing and innovative ways to tell their ancient stories to the world for future generations. Modern technology is impacting ancient traditional cultures in very powerful and innovative ways - providing platforms and technology to empower, promote, archive, and revitalize struggling cultures. Connections to the Internet and technology allows communication between ancient and modern, East to West - indeed the South to the North and back. Traditional cultures to modernity, and the modern world to the ancient world. Let us all gather around the virtual fireplace of Ethernet - and share the stories of what it means to be human. --Chris Rainier, Colorado, October 2010

IMAGES ABOVE: (Top) Felix Andi, Yokoim community leader of Kundiman village, consults with Greg Anderson (left) and David Harrison (center) to translate a Yokoim song. (Bottom) Dr. Ganesh Murmu, and Gregory Anderson interviewing woman from Aka tribal group, Kichang Village, Arunachal Pradesh, India. Photographs: Chris Rainier

Ancient Marks: The Sacred Origins of Tattoos and Body Marking, 2005 (11:00) Photographs: Chris Rainier, Video Director / Editor: Ethan Boehme Music: Anoushka Shankar

This video explores the intrinsic connection between mankind’s culture and the old tradition of marking the human body dating back two thousand years, with tattoos and scarification as a form of initiation, beauty, and highly ritualized ornamentation. This tradition continues in today’s modern Culture. The Ancient Marks project, through photography and text, communicates man’s need to adorn the sacred geography of the human body.

If the skin of the average human body was laid flat as a map, a sheet of parchment, it would spread over twenty square feet. The human form, whether isolated in the forests of the Amazon, swept clean by the bitter winds of the Arctic, or soothed by sunset rains of Polynesia became through the brilliance of inspired artistry a map of culture and myth, a sacred geography of the soul, all expressed by the simplicity of forms painted, carved, incised, or etched upon the canvas of the body.

Images of photographs from the book, Ancient Marks by Chris Rainier

Sacred: Angkor Wat, 2007 (6:00

National Geographic photographer Chris Rainier and filmmaker Ethan Boehme bring the sacred temples and Buddhist monks of Angkor Wat poetically to film, with music by Anoushka Shankar.

Angkor Wat is one of more than a dozen magnificent temples in the vast metropolis of Angkor, Cambodia, the capital of the Khmer Empire from the 9th to the 15th centuries. It was built for the king, Suryavarman II, in the early 12th century as his state temple and part of his capital city. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation — first Hindu, dedicated to the god Vishnu, then Buddhist. The temple is at the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country’s prime attraction for visitors. Within Angkor Wat, carved bas-reliefs illustrate scenes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata—epic poems that are also sacred Hindu texts.


Chris Rainier is considered one of the leading documentary photographers working today. His life’s mission is to film the remaining natural wilderness and indigenous cultures around the globe and to use images to create social change. Rainier co-directs the National Geographic Society’s Cultural Ethnosphere and All Roads Photography Programs. He is a contributing editor for National Geographic Traveler magazine, contributing photographer for National Geographic Adventure magazine; a correspondent on photography for NPR’s Day to Day radio show. Rainier heads National Geographic’s Enduring Voices Project, which is documenting the world’s most endangered languages.

Rainier has traveled to seven continents, making extensive expeditions throughout Africa, Antarctica, and New Guinea. His photography has been seen in Time, Life, Smithsonian, the New York Times, Outside and publications of the National Geographic Society. Rainier has photographed global culture and conflict, famine, and war in such places as Somalia, Sarajevo/Bosnia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Cambodia, and Iraq. He has won awards for his photography, including the prestigious Lowell Thomas Award given by the Explorers Club for adventure stories. Rainier’s photography has been shown and collected by museums around the world, including the Australian Museum in Sydney, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, the International Center of Photography in New York, the George Eastman House International Museum in Rochester, New York, and the United Nations. His books include: Keepers Of The Spirit, Where Masks Still Dance: New Guinea, Ancient Marks. From 1980 to 1985, Rainier was photographic assistant to Ansel Adams - the noted landscape photographer.

Endangered Languages on YouTube

Many of the world’s smallest and most endangered languages have no written form and have never been recorded or scientifically documented. The National Geographic Enduring Voices YouTube channel allows many of these tongues to have a presence in the internet for the very first time.  Through the work of Linguists Dr. K. David Harrison and Dr. Gregory Anderson from the Living Tongues Institute, a small and endangered language that may have previously never been heard outside of a remote village can now reach a global audience.  Using YouTube as a platform, scientists, visual artists and communities can now collaborate more effectively on promoting language revitalization. 

The YouTube channel features videos such as Rudolf Raward reading the first book written in Matukar-Panau, a language spoken by about 500 people in the Matukar village in Papau New Guinea and songs by Aydyng Byrtan-ool, a talented young Tuvan singer and epic storyteller in Southern Siberia, hip-hop performed by Songe Nimasow in the Aka language of India, and videos demonstrating how the Foe language of Papua New Guinea uses body parts to count from 1 to 37.

The launch of the channel comes on the heels of a New York Times announcement by Harrison and Anderson of a “hidden” language of India known locally as Koro, that is new to science and had never been documented outside of its rural community.  Koro is one of half of the world’s languages likely to vanish in the next 100 years.

In the midst of a language extinction crisis, we are also seeing a global grassroots movement for language revitalization. Speakers are leveraging new technologies, such as social networking and YouTube, to sustain small languages. As Harrison describes in his book The Last Speakers, we are all impoverished when a language dies, and all enriched by the human knowledge base found in the world’s smallest tongues.



artTEKtech Tanna, 2010

Curator & Project Director: Janna Olson, Sustainability Consultant

“[Art] is a matter of trying to create an atmosphere and context so conversation can flow back and forth and we can be influenced by each other.” - W.E.B DuBois, American Civil Rights Activist

DJ Spooky offers a digital arts workshop at Tafea College, Tanna, Vanuatu. Aug. 2010

artTEKtech Tanna is an installation by media artist Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky) presenting the first works inspired by his vision for the Vanuatu Pacifica Foundation. With this new artists residency initiative launching on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu’s South Pacific archipelago, Miller asks, “Can 21st Century technology (tech) support Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) in ways that enrich village life and Contemporary Art?” Miller’s active interest explores indigenous-digital connections, modernization’s current impacts on South Pacific micro-cultures and how island & urban artistic encounters might inform Contemporary Art.

Cargo Culture, 2010

burlap coffee sacks 60" x 70"

Hideaway, #1-4, 2010

ink on paper 36" x 48"