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Questioning New Media Final Showcase Revisited

One of the highlights of the fall semester is always the NWMEDIA 201: Questioning New Media showcase, featuring the creative provocations and interventions of our students in response to the Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium. NWMEDIA 201 is a core course for our graduates and invites students to critically evaluate pioneering work in new media. Taught by Jill Miller with support from GSI Ryan Ikeda, this year the course presented “Disorientations :Visions Past, Present, Future.”

The evening began with Rachel Stallings presenting “Paint With Me.” Audience members downloaded the live video streaming network Periscope to view and interact with Rachel as she painted based on audience response. The physical distance of her art, in addition to her costume decisions, which evoked creation myths and NASA space suit prototypes, produced a sense of unfamiliarity. The work capitalized on this disorientation to investigate the collaborative relationship between audience and performer.

Bret Hart offered “Resimulating the Fossilized — Post-Internet Life, Archived,” which asked how to best reflect on the past. Since diaries are selective and memories distort over time, Bret suggested a new method of remembrance and immortality: one’s Google search queries. At once amusing and surprisingly poignant, Bret walked the audience through the difficulty of accessing one’s search history and reading such text, and suggested that while search queries can be at once boring with pearls of illumination, one might not want to alter the narrative of oneself one has constructed.

Stacy Kellner and Kika Allerfeldt leapt into the dystopian future with “Bay Area Climate Change Conference 2075,” in which they briefed the audience on the state of the climate emergency from the year of 2075. Stacy and Kika used scientific models and projections to imagine the impact of human action on the environment 59 years into the future — and the results were concerning. In a tongue in cheek twist, they finally offered a QR code to their website detailing their plans — which led to a craigslist listing for a boat!

During intermission, the audience engaged in arts and crafts customizing their analog VR headsets for Noura Howell‘s “We Are Still Here” presentation. Noura has worked extensively on Virtual Reality systems in the School of Information, partially owing to her suspicion of the real “immersion” of the experience. As she stated, she always knows she’s in the basement of South Hall surrounded by friends. Noura had the audience place headsets on and engage in several VR games projected on the screen and suggested that this experience was perhaps the most exciting option for VR– the opportunity to day dream and engage with a community, rather than achieve full immersion.

The evening concluded with Tristan Caro presenting a “Report on the Space Ethics Commission.” In a stunning piece of performance art, Tristan pretended that he’d attended a Space X Ethics Commission as an observer and reported back on his findings. The incredibly well-realized world he created offered a terrifying dystopian view of space exploration ethics, where decisions are entirely motivated by capitalist concerns, rather than the idealistic utopianism that has historically been associated with NASA’s efforts in the field. The audience was sold — even with some creative citations that included BCNM Director Nicholas de Monchaux (author of Fashioning Apollo) and Heart of Darkness’s Kurtz!

Congratulations NWMEDIA 201! You were stunning! Check out the photos from this amazing evening below!

2016 NWMEDIA 201 Final Showcase

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