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Paul Kaiser is a digital artist and writer. He earned his bachelor’s degree in film and art history from Wesleyan University (1978; summa cum laude), and his M.Ed. in special education from American University. Kaiser’s early art (1975-81) was in experimental filmmaking and writing for recorded voice. He then spent ten years teaching students with severe learning disabilities, with whom he collaborated on making multimedia depictions of their own minds. From this work, he derived two key ideas—mental space and drawing as performance—which became the points of departure for the solo and collaborative digital artworks he has been making since the mid-90s.
Kaiser has been a prolific collaborator—in addition to extensive collaborations with his key colleagues Shelley Eshkar and Marc Downie, he has worked with Robert Wilson, Merce Cunningham, Bill T. Jones, and Trisha Brown. These works span a wide range of forms and disciplines, including dance, music, installation, and public art. Kaiser’s solo artworks include a pair of abstract films Verge, 1999; an interactive exhibit at The Exploratorium in San Francisco Inkblot Projections, 2002); and a multimedia installation at the Brooklyn Academy of Music
Kaiser has taught at Wesleyan, Harvard, Columbia, and San Francisco State, with artist’s residencies at Le Fresnoy—Studio National (France), Cooper Union, UC-Irvine, Harvard, Ohio State University, The Exploratorium, and Arizona State University. He has written and lectured extensively about digital art, filmmaking, dance, and education.
Kaiser was recently given the John Cage Award by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts (2008). In 1995, he was the first digital artist to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship. He also received a ComputerWorld/Smithsonian Award (1992) for his multimedia work with children. Other honors include a Media Arts Fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation (2006), an Award of Distinction and two Honorable Mentions at Ars Electronica, an Osher Fellowship at the Exploratorium, and prizes from the Congress of Research in Dance and the Bessie Awards.