By Ashley Skowronek
The Arts and Interactive Multimedia building housed the senior showcase for IMM majors on Friday, April 28, which provided a stage for seniors to present thesis projects. Exhibits ranged from websites, video games, performances and physical installations. Each creator invited the public to interact with their displays.
The project “HouseMate,” included a red sofa across from a flat screen television and two lamps radiating a warm glow. The project explored the possibilities presented when “native” limitations of consumer home technology are bypassed, coupled with better understanding of how smart hardware affect human emotions and moods.
The interactive display conceptualized a smart home automation platform, which allowed hardware and software to seamlessly work together, creating a powerful home living experience.
“My project really started as a hobby/side project that I ended up having a ton of fun with, and built it up into my thesis project,” said Ryan Laux, a senior interactive multimedia major. “As someone pursuing film and animation, I never expected that my thesis would be in the home automation and physical computing field.”
His project was inspired by videos of other students “making their dorms or apartments ‘smart’ with controllable lighting, voice control and other connected devices.”
The project’s goal was to fashion a home around the user by allowing its interior to adapt automatically to the user’s daily activities and preferences.
“I really wanted to show the audience that the future is now and hopefully inspire someone to create something they never thought was possible,” Laux said. “Having the freedom to learn and create something completely different is one of the best parts about being in IMM.”
The 25 minute video, “Modern Reveries,” also examined themes of artificial intelligence and human interaction with technology. The experimental video editing project delivered an anthological cinematic experience.
Chris Lundy, a senior interactive multimedia major, was inspired by his love of storytelling and cinematic experiences.
“My college career has focused on becoming a better editor, filmmaker and content creator,” he said. “‘Modern Reveries’ is both a summation and representation of that aspiration.”
Senior interactive multimedia major Angela Arguson’s project “Diversity Snapshot” transformed the College’s admissions data into physical artifacts through the use of data visualization: the display of data in a graphic format.
“Rather than design an infographic to be viewed on a screen, I aimed to create a physical exhibit that was visually appealing but also revealed a data driven story in a new way,” Arguson said. “In contrast to yearly admissions data that the college collects, I wanted to convey the more personal side to the numbers. A survey was sent out to the student body, so this visualization is representative of their personal opinions, stories, and experiences with diversity.”
The exhibit presented line graphs depicting the ethnic composition of the College’s yearly undergraduate students and digitally fabricated graduation caps whose appearance corresponded to data obtained from annual diversity surveys.
“I believe that the audience was interested in the physical visualization aspect of the exhibit and the way the information was displayed,” Arguson said. “Several viewers mentioned how eye opening the data was and thought that it was an important topic to discuss.”
Art and animation was expertly paired in “Art Evolution” which featured characters like Pikachu from “Pokemon” and Link from the “Legend of Zelda,” along with others from anime, cartoons and video games. Characters were drawn in sequential order based on the digital animation process; black outlines transformed into complete figures by means of canvas.
“To me, the thesis showcase is a place to sell yourself to employers –– this is what I do and this is how good I am at it,” said Miranda Karetny, a senior interactive multimedia major. “When people recognized the anime or game on which the art was based, they would get excited and start pointing. They took a lot of pictures as well as asked about commission prices.”
The exhibit intended to demonstrate how stylistic illustrations can connect with fine art in a fun and accessible way.
“I think as far as my intent to showcase my best work to prospective employers, this was a sign of great success,” Karetny said. “The message that I wanted to convey is to always create something that you yourself enjoy. I love what I do and I wouldn’t change it for anything.”
Not for the faint of heart, “Necrophobic” used virtual reality to transport the user into a first-person survival horror game. Matt Kahrer, senior interactive multimedia major, felt the horror genre could greatly benefit from virtual reality, which provided users with a new way to experience films and help users face their greatest fears.
“I was inspired by a number of survival horror games such as ‘Resident Evil,’ ‘Amnesia: The Dark Descent’ and ‘Outlast,’” Kahrer said. “Over the course of the years, what people in the past found terrifying doesn’t scare them today. As a result, new means of providing scares have to be created. In the end, I think (the audience) gained a new appreciation for virtual reality, and it might have convinced them that it may be something to invest into.”
The senior showcase was student-planned and student-run in all aspects, from budgeting to scheduling.