But What About…?


“But What About…?” is a prototype of an exhibition that explores the process of cartographic data visualization to answer for young people (ages 18-35) the question of where to live. In essence, it is an exhibition that curates itself, as attendees are invited to ask their own questions about which metrics inform our assessment of livability.

The space, which is purposely modular and informal, provides an area for young people to study the questions that were posed by graduate students Jane Adams (MFA), Brent Burns (MS) and Serdar Gizer (MS) in the Emergent Media program, and to get an impression of the challenges they faced in trying to answer those questions. The idea of an ‘exhibition prototype’ opens up a whole realm of possibilities for future iterations which further emphasize the relationship between humans and data, quantitative and qualitative metrics, and which factors are subjective or universal criteria of livability for young people.

If you are interested in hosting a future iteration of this exhibit, please contact jane@universalities.com

A Serious Game

“A Serious Game”, inspired by an assignment of the same name, is an interactive art experiment aimed at bringing to light the potential for news feeds to be surreptitiously augmented. The piece would be housed in a number of public spaces and controlled by a kiosk and/or mobile application.

Coded in Python, any number of users could be simultaneously augmenting the feed at any given time by using a ‘mad libs’ style find-and-replace feature to change keywords in the feed for satirical, confusing, or subversive means. The feed would pull fresh RSS news headlines from the web every 30 seconds, such that new unaltered information would be blended in with the augmented news, blurring the line between reality and crowd-sourced nonsense. This piece is inspired by Facebook’s ‘News Feed’, Twitter, and issues of truthfulness in the modern mediascape’s echo chamber.

Algorithmic Chromo-synesthesia

Throughout history, composers (and many others) have described a phenomenon in which musical notes manifest as colors in the mind’s eye. Consider this chart by Fred Callopy showing three centuries’ of recorded synesthesia:

While I don’t personally experience synesthesia, I am a very visual thinker, and in self-teaching guitar I wondered at the potential of this system for improving learning. By studying the commonalities in the above chart, I created this system for color association:

I then painted the fretboard of my guitar according to these colors, which produced a beautiful artifact:

Then, I started mapping the colors to sheet music. Here are some of the results:

“Frère Jacques”, where red = C, yellow = E, blue = G, etc. and length of rectangle indicates length of note, such that a square is a quarter note:

Below, “Ode to Joy” introduced problems of identifying adjacent octaves; the low G in row 3 is differentiated from the higher G in other rows by a decrease in brightness, such that hue still corresponds to note but brightness corresponds to octave:

Unlike “Frère Jacques” and “Ode to Joy”, which are very bright rainbows, the color palette generated by sheet music for “Fur Elise” is decidedly unsettling, much like the tune itself:

Note the very light yellow note in the 5th line; this is the very high E, as higher octaves are identified by increased brightness in the same way that lower octaves (such as the mustard-colored low Es preceding it) are darker.

Continue reading “Algorithmic Chromo-synesthesia”

Interactive Terrarium

In order to foster creativity of a tactile nature, a daily practice was developed in which elements were arranged into small sculptures over the course of ten-minute sessions. Initial specifications required that objects be sourced from the immediate environment, and consist of at least one man-made and one natural element, with no less than three total elements per sculptural composition. This promoted aesthetic dialogue between the organic and the synthetic, echoing a dichotomy that has deep cultural resonance for the millennial generation.

Creative blocks in the daily practice led to a more holistic approach, which abandoned the requirement of small, ten-minute complete sculptures in favor of an ongoing study of physical computing and terrarium cultivation. The result was a culmination of the semester’s research into a large-scale interactive sculpture incorporating both live plants and live circuits. This piece was on display in the Champlain College Communications & Creative Media Gallery lounge as part of the graduate student exhibit “10×105: Explorations into Daily Creativity” in December 2016.

Continue reading “Interactive Terrarium”

Good Filth

In a country where over-prescription of drugs is rampant and the “quick fix” for mental and physical ailments comes in the form of a pill, horticultural therapy is an emerging field that seeks to bring people back to the earth as an alternative coping mechanism. Horticultural therapists propose that the act of growing plants, from digging ones’ hands in the soil to sow seeds, to the satisfaction of a harvest, can have profound benefits to overall health.

Many students and young professionals do not start home gardens because they perceive the process as complex and expensive, so it is important to adopt a design strategy that conveys simplicity and cost efficiency. This can be achieved with a two-pronged approach: first, repeated symbolism of step-by-step processes, breaking complex instructions into small tasks that are manageable to a first-time gardener; and second, a DIY style of imagery that conveys the importance and cost-saving advantages of repurposed materials.

Fringe Magazine

This full-scale magazine production work was intended to showcase a hypothetical STEAM-inspired journal of emergent technology and unusual, secular interpretations of the world around us. Building the publication involved the curation of relevant articles and imagery, creation of a branding and typographic system, along with development of branch-based symbology for pagination and content organization.