Dear President Shirley Ann Jackson,
This is an e-mail regarding the closing of “Virtual Jihad” show by Wafaa Bilal.
I am asking you to reconsider your decision.
Your institution is a private one so, in a sense, free speech argument does not apply in this case. I am also quite sure that military/governmental funding for a variety of projects at RPI has influenced in some way your decision. I think the most compelling reason to open the show is to stay true to the reputation of your institution.
RPI is one of the leaders (along with CMU, UCLA, and other institutions of analogous caliber) in the hybrid field of electronic arts. One of the responsibilities of the members of this field is to comment on contemporary culture through the use of contemporary technology. Mr. Bilal’s views and methodology is rather controversial but he is fulfilling this responsibility.
As a members of artistic community I have to point out that you are sending a rather mixed message by creation of EMPAC on one hand and cancellation of Wafaa Bilal’s show on the other.
So, WHY NOT CHANGE THE WORLD? 🙂
thank you for your time,
Dmitry (Dima) Strakovsky
Assistant Professor of Intermedia
University of Kentucky