Office of Undergraduate Research

Feedback: interactive art and virtual worlds

This research aims to explore issues of the embodied spectator in the digital age. Its resultant projects fall into two categories: interactive art and virtual worlds. The works in the first category, interactive art, will use computer vision techniques and technologies - employed using computer development programs such as Jitter or openFrameworks (which is based in C++) - in order to produce fully immersive interactive environments that ask viewer-participants to move in ways they normally wouldn't. Here I'll be working on updating my own extant pieces so they now utilize the newest technologies at hand, as well as creating new art works for upcoming exhibition. The works in the second category, virtual worlds, will combine aesthetics, materials, objects and avatars from the online 3D community of Second Life with traditional installation, painting and printmaking - a project that I've received S&E funds for from the Graduate School Research Committee. Here time will be spent designing online identities/visual characters and spaces before deploying them in physical materials and space. Some of these latter works will see continued collaboration with Jessica Meuninck-Ganger, head of UWM's printmaking area in the Department of Visual Art, and many of the pieces are likely to be exhibited in upcoming exhibitions in South Africa, Milwaukee, London, Massachusetts, Ireland and elsewhere. This research needs to not only be produced but also documented: the pieces must be understood through video and photographic images. Said documentation may be published in books or catalogs, will appear on invites and in the press, and will be published online on my and Peck's web site. Like the production, this documentation will be ongoing, and may involve contact with curators, gallerists, writers, editors and designers.

Tasks and responsibilities:

With the interactive art research, students may be producing in openFrameworks / C++, Processing and/or Jitter, and will be working with and developing an ongoing library of code as they update extant projects. We will work together on pseudo-code and update strategies, and I'll help them find the needed open source libraries as well as to debug these projects. After these are complete, we will discuss possibilities to use the wares developed towards future interactive art pieces, and begin work towards that end. In Second Life (SL), the main tasks are in helping to design two new avatars, and their environments, for a new installation entitled "Given Time." This entails working in drawings, 3D, scripting and all things in between. Here we may also work on SL spaces and shooting virtual images and video. Dependent on the needs of these projects, and the student's ongoing growth in their skills and interests, they may also be asked to shoot video (with cameras and/or desktop capture tools), edit it (using Final Cut Pro and/or Adobe After Effects) or compress it (with MPEG Streamclip). They may additionally do work like sketching, printing or assembling in the wood shop, designing or updating web pages and press releases. These are a hands-on projects, which may shift in their needs and how we work on them, but which are always conceptually and technically sound (and fun!), and intended for real-world and international gallery spaces.