Since the very beginning, art has raced along the cutting edge of technology. Our ancestors used charcoal and spit to paint bears and buffalo on cave walls. The invention of oil paints enabled the works of the great Renaissance Masters. Now, the computer is changing the way we look at and create art. The Pop! Smart series combines 3D projection, robotics, painting, music and dance, and will give the audience a chance to see the latest, greatest and strangest of the local art scene.

Art, by design, is supposed to be a little “out there.” When you throw cutting edge tech into the mix, you sometimes get a recipe for bewilderment. However, Pop! creator and artist Neda Parandian has seen a warm welcome for her creation’s particular brand of high tech and traditional art.

“A year or two ago, I don’t think we were ready. But we’re there now. In fact, people love it. They are wowed by it,” Parandian said.

The goal of Pop! is twofold: to introduce the community to the innovative art being made by locals, and to help artists connect with residents and business owners who are in need of their unique talents. By connecting artists with patrons, the hope is that Louisiana artists will be able to make a living in the state and not become a part of the creative “brain drain.”

“A lot of my friends who are involved in digital media, they were graduates of LSU’s Digital Media department. There was a lack of a market for some of these creative people … people utilize them for an event here and there, but after that there’s no follow-up work for them. So my inspiration was creating some kind of a marketplace within our event.”

Wednesday’s show will be the second in the Pop! series, the inaugural edition was in June. The format allows Parandian to include an eclectic mix of artists, from interactive media artists to local aerialist performers from AirSeekers and dancers from Salsa Ardiente Dance Company.

“We still kept the marketplace for our regular painters and ceramic artists, but then we thought, why not cover all spectrums of the arts? Because we’re doing this show as a series, we can spend time to cover as much of the art spectrum as we want to. So that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

The event will feature a robotics display by Barton Gilley, black light reactive cartoon paintings by Arthouse 2041, Steampunk contraptions by Mike Carambat, and more. One artist whose work particularly embodies the “tech-art-sandwich” feel of Pop! is LSU graduate John Gray, whose lightshow projections turn blank walls into dynamic canvases.

“He has done some mind-blowing work. He’s worked with The Walls Project and the Arts Council (of Greater Baton Rouge). He finds creative ways to use 3D projection, whether it’s to draw attention to a local store, a mannequin, or a 15-story building.”

Parandian hopes that the event will inspire artists and creatives in the area to show off their skills, try out new mediums and techniques and connect with others who share their passion.

“I’m of the belief that any type of creative thing you want to do, just give it a shot. Make the call and put yourself out there. I’m all about making things a reality, bringing them to life, and letting the audience decide if they like it or not.”