School of Art

Dorsey Kaufmann’s multimedia installation, “Ripple Effect,” was exhibited in Venice, Italy, at the ACM Conference on Creativity and Cognition, June 22-23. 

“Ripple Effect” is an interactive sound installation. Contamination data of local water quality is visualized and then the data is translated into sound waves.

The conference brings together artists, scientists, designers, educators, and researchers from around the globe to more deeply understand how people engage individually and socially in creative processes. The exhibition was entitled, “Cities of the Future: Living Together”

Kaufmann (BFA, ’20, Illustration + Design) has been on quite a run. 

  • In Sept. 2021 she was listed as one of ArtConnect magazine’s “Artists to Watch 2021.”
  • In March 2022 “Ripple Effect” was highlighted at the University of Arizona’s Wonder House at South by Southwest.
  • In July 2022, Kaufmann was selected for the prestigious Lumen Prize of Art and Technology long list. The Lumen Prize, a global competition, celebrates art that is created with technology.

And May 2022, she gave the graduation keynote address for graduate students.

She quoted author Neil Gaiman on the importance of having a goal – envisioned as a mountain in the distance – and to make decisions that keep you moving towards the mountain.

“Even if we’re not reaching the semi-famous level of being immediately recognized in the arts community – even if we’re not there, we can still serve our community in the most unique ways, and share the joys and liberation that comes with creating art and passing it to the next generation. Because it’s a lifesaver for people, I know it was for me.”

>> Dorsey Kaufmann is long listed for the Lumen Prize
>> ArtConnect names Dorsey Kaufmann an “Artist to Watch 2021”
>> Art installation helps communities understand water quality

The gallery for Dorsey Kaufmann’s “Ripple Effect” for the exhibition, “Cities of the Future: Living Together,” at the ACM Conference on Creativity and Cognition in Venice, Italy.

‘Ripple Effect’ takes Dorsey Kaufman to Venice

Tell us about the exhibition?
“This exhibition is a convergence of all previous places I’ve exhibited and datasets I’ve received access to visualize. There is a section on the municipal water supply contamination in Flint that I showed in 2019 at the University of Michigan, Tucson groundwater contamination that I showed in 2018 at Biosphere 2, and a new section on the quality of sediments in the Venice waterways and the Grand Canal.

“The installation conveys all of the ways that data mediates our understanding of water and our experiences of the natural world within our built systems – surrounding issues such as water quality, (lack of) access to clean water, state policy and infrastructure that determines water usage and allocates water to homes and businesses, corporate pumping of water to sell at a profit, and the collective responsibility humans share to conserve water.

“The “Ripple Effect” installation asks a question – what if water could visualize its quality and perform the level of contamination? – and follows other climate-responsive artworks, architecture, and objects that have been created in the past decade in response to water availability threats, disparities of access to drinkable water in low-income communities, and climate change projections.

What was it like to participating in this event?

“Participating in ACM’s Creativity and Cognition conference and exhibiting “Ripple Effect” in Italy introduced my work to new, global audiences and allowed me to meet other artists, curators, and collectors in person for the biggest exhibition of art in the world!

“Pulling off this exhibition was very intimidating at the beginning – I had to ship all of the exhibition components from Tucson to Italy, fill an entire room with the installation, ensure all of the tech worked for the duration of the show, and then pack it all back up again.

“These tasks required months of preparation and fortunately, it all worked out. Once it was up, it was extremely rewarding to share this work with so many people and represent the U.S. and Tucson on a global stage. Discussing our respective regional challenges surrounding water quality, use, availability and access with other artists, and scientists, and experts from around the world was among the most memorable moments of the exhibition for me. 

“Seeing the other artists’ methods to addressing our global climate crisis opened my mind to all the tools and creativity we as humans really do have at our disposal.”

How has the “Ripple Effect” experience inspired your vision of your art moving forward?

““Ripple Effect” showed me the importance of creating work that can reach people in their everyday lives, change how they move through neighborhoods and systems, and transform how they think about their environment and their agency within that environment.

“The experience taught me how impactful diverse collaboration is – how essential it is to have people from different fields and educational/cultural backgrounds impart their most passionate and authentic selves to form a collective and more holistic approach towards society’s pressing issues.

“The journey of this work has taken me places I could never imagine.”