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4th Floor praised as Chattanooga's newest center of innovation

GIGTANK artists and techies agree, the 4th floor and the Chattanooga Public Library are Chattanooga’s new intersection of art, technology and education.

This summer, as the GIGTANK teams and specialists were busy developing apps and business ideas to build on top of the city’s gigabit-per-second internet, the engineers and developers with local start-up nonprofit ENGAGE 3D, were on the 4th floor collaborating with local composer and intermedia artist, Tim Hinck. Their experimental 3D gesture control performance art project premiered last week as Lucid Streaming, a highlight of the GIGTANK's Demo Day. In the coming weeks, Hinck will be our next guest blogger sharing his artistic vision for Lucid Streaming. Check out footage of the live performance here

Let's stop for a moment and consider: An art and technology project that made the city’s gigabit internet speed a visual and artistic experience was incubated in a public library ....!

This year marked the first time the 4th floor participated in the annual pitch competition as a venue and beta lab. Last Tuesday, from the GIGTANK stage we heard over and over how encouraged people in this city are about the massive potential the library's presence in the entrepreneurial ecosystem represents. This is an exciting milemarker if we look back to this time last summer and remember it was only 12 months ago when we were still moving piles of old furniture out of the 4th floor of the library. 

Hinck says he now considers the public library an exciting and supportive space to explore this merging of art and technology. Earlier this year, the artist used the 4th floor space to create and present original work as part of the annual New Dischord Festival. 

"The sister space that we’re using is the 4th floor of the Chattanooga Library, which is really a hotbed of innovation and creation and really melding together art and technology in really new and innovative ways. Thats a really fun place to hang out and its been a place that has been very inspiring for me and in which I’ve met a lot of the people that I'm working with today,” Hinck told the GIGTANK audience during a talkback following the Lucid Streaming premiere. 

Engage 3D are at the center of many projects coming from the 4th floor right now. With them in residence we have rapidly increased our technology education offerings. 

Dan Ryan, a GIGTANK Technologist in Residence and former Director of Front-end Development for the Obama for America campaign, told the GIGTANK audience how amazed he is with what we have been able to bring together in a short time. 

“Here in Chattanooga when you talk about bringing together art, education, technology... if you draw that as a venn diagram, one of the places you are going to find is the public library. Which may stun alot of people. like, the library is the center of innovation in Chattanooga? But it certainly is.“ 

Ryan had recently witnessed first hand the library’s commitment to create access to the city’s entrepreneurial onramp. A few weeks ago, he was one of the visiting speakers at DEVDEV, the new teen code camp in the library that took place this summer. Led by our tech education partners at Engage 3D, this successful partnership between the public library, the Benwood Foundation and Engage 3D was a 4 week pilot program of computer programming, robotics, website building and writing code. What an amazing success.  

Engage 3D's director of education, James McNutt, lead the camp.  McNutt's comments about education during a GIGTANK morning panel were later applauded by Ethernet inventor, Bob Metcalfe, during his interview with US Ignite CEO, Bill Wallace.  Earlier this year McNutt taught Community Py, a Python code class offered on the 4th floor. The immediate response during the registration period gave us all a clear picture that the community was eager to learn these new literacies. 

As we continue to forge strategic collaborative community partnerships with technology incubators, educators, museums and national and locally-focused foundations, we are just as inspired and encouraged as everyone that the Chattanooga Public Library is now a steady partner and new access point for innovation in our city. Through our own institutional renaissance, we are committed to fostering the community’s evolution during Chattanooga’s digital industrial age. 

In the coming weeks look for posts from our most active collaborators who will be featured guest bloggers expanding the conversation on how the library and the 4th floor are helping the community reimagine ways to incubate, educate and create in Chattanooga.