In our first episode with Media Design Practices student Kristina Ortega she was just beginning her investigation into the human micro biome. In this episode we learn about her recent deployment of bacteria covered cheerleaders in a Los Angeles cul-de-sac and her strategies for reimagining civic health.
What is Student/Space?
We identify three students from different disciplines who are in the process of completing an ambitious project. Over the course of the term we work with them to create three videos capturing the launch, obstacles and completion of their finished work of art and/or design. At the end of the term, each student’s trio of episodes constitutes an intimate take on the agony and ecstasy of bringing an idea to life.
Art Center has a reputation for putting students through their paces, challenging them to meet and exceed their wildest creative dreams. The work ethic instilled here is legendary as are the results of all that toiling, ideating, imagining and making.
But the journey from inspiration to finished creation has always been somewhat mysterious. So beginning last Fall, we set out to illuminate students’ creative process with the series of videos we’ve recently renamed Student Space. Now it’s become a bonafide ‘thing.’ Here’s how it’s done: We identify three students from different disciplines who are in the process of completing an ambitious project. Over the course of the term we work with them to create three videos capturing the launch, obstacles and completion of their finished work of art and/or design. At the end of the term, each student’s trio of episodes constitutes an intimate take on the agony and ecstasy of bringing an idea to life. The results have been fascinating, dramatic and nothing short of spectacular. Need proof? Check out this playlist on our YouTube page.
The Spring 2015 term, will feature just one student: Media Design Practices thesis candidate, Kristina Ortega. We have no doubt that the spellbinding complexity of her project, which explores the ways people currently use technology to forecast future uses for tech, will more than make up for the lack of confederates in this Student/Space cohort. She’ll investigate something she calls “the human microbiome,” and its uses for the future of medicine. There’s really no more to say about her groundbreaking research, which we’ll capture over the course of this term, except: watch and learn. Oh, and enjoy!
“Being part of a community that provides support and critique is important,” said Media Design Practices (MDP) Chair Anne Burdick as she kicked off the department’s first ever Faculty Work-in-Progress show on a recent Thursday evening in Art Center’s Wind Tunnel gallery space. “It’s really a super amazing gift.”
As the MFA program’s twelve faculty members’ presentations unfolded over the next two hours, it quickly became clear that Burdick was not overstating the rewards of her department’s commitment to open dialogue. The event, which Burdick hopes will become a regular piece of programming, was organized around the following theme: a piece of something bigger. Faculty responded to that imperative with a series short presentations of unfinished projects they’re cultivating in their private creative practices.
Rebeca Méndez holds Art Center degrees in two different disciplines, Graphic Design (BFA, ’84) and Media Design (MFA, ’97). Her life and work stand as a testament to defying the conventions of those fields by expanding the definition of what it means to be a working artist and designer. She has forged her own path through punishingly uncharted terrain that’s taken her to the arctic tundras of the earth’s poles, as well as many untamed territories.
For these reasons among many others, Méndez was chosen to be the subject of the latest installment in the Change/Makers series of video profiles, which explores the ideas and passions informing the creative practices of some of Art Center’s most innovative and inspiring alumni.
Peer-to-Peer Mentoring: VJs Shafic, Venas, and Bashir learn basic circuitry in a workshop facilitated by a peer mentor. Photo credit: Tina L. Zeng / 2014.
The following story, by Media Design Practices post-grad fellow, Tina L. Zeng, was originally published on UNICEF’S Stories of Innovation blog. The inspiring innovations reflected below are the result of the independent graduate work she began conducting in Kampala, Uganda in September 2013, supported by the UNICEF Innovation Lab.
What if technology was made to break?
I recently wrote a post about a project that disrupts the current product-oriented mentality for designing technology for development. This project, weDub, is a set of platforms for youths in a slum area named Kamwokya in Kampala, Uganda to make, instead of consume, technology. weDub is a locally developed audio mixer and preamplifier that youths make to perform live improvisations of media content they reinterpret to an audience; this is locally known as VJing. I talk about the three key outcomes of the project here.
This Fall, UNICEF’s Innovation Lab in Kampala, Uganda, will embark upon its third year working with graduate students and faculty from Media Design Practices (MDP) at Art Center College of Design. The partnership is integrated into the design program’s unique curriculum, which recently received the prestigious 2014 Core 77 Design Award.
Student work with Ugandan youth was a significant factor in Core 77’s decision to recognize MDP with this honor. Students’ first-hand experience designing technology in a developing world context contributed to what the jury recognized as “…the kind of pure research in education that we believe is the future of education—through [a curriculum] that is not removed from the world because of the way that [it is] embedded in the world.”
Art Center students visit alum Matthew Manos’ verynice design studio in Venice. (Photo by Stella Kalinina)
Professionally speaking, alumnus Matthew Manos (MFA 12) was precocious. At age 19 in 2008 he founded his own design studio, verynice, a service free to nonprofits using design as a tool for problem solving. By 2012, with a full-time staff of two, verynice was providing $300,000 in pro bono services.
Today, with offices in Los Angeles and New York and a staff of 10 and growing, Manos’ innovative studio has donated the equivalent of more than a million dollars in services to some 250 nonprofit organizations with the help of skills-based volunteers around the globe. Manos’ book, How to Give Half of Your Work Away for Free, open-sources his 50% pro-bono business model. His givehalf.co platform is inspiring other companies to do the same.
Handiwork courtesy of the team behind the Sensor Salon
Fresh from wowing a tough techie crowd at Microsoft headquarters in Seattle, Media Design Practices grad students Kristina Ortega and Jennifer Rodenhouse give us the lowdown on their novel nail salon concept that turns fingernails into a dynamic digital platform. The duo first hatched the idea for a “Sensor Salon” in a Wearable Ecologies class sponsored by Intel and led by MDP faculty members Philip van Allen and Ben Hooker. Now it’s taken flight, attracting interest in the field as well as a flurry of media attention, from public radio to Fast Company and Geekwire among other outlets. Their Wearable Services—proffering technologies embedded in nail gels, from LCD screens and 3D printed objects to GPS and haptic feedback devices—may well be fashioning the future.
The Dotted Line: What was your main inspiration for this unusual type of wearable device?
Kristina Ortega: We were really inspired by nail art culture and nail art salons in Los Angeles. During our initial research into the current state of wearable tech we noticed that many devices were one size fits all. This seemed in such stark contrast to this process of self-maintenance we saw with nail art and salon culture, which is all about the process of personalization.
Those viral images and videos that people modify and spread across the Internet are always good for a laugh, but at the TEDGlobal 2013 conference in Edinburgh, Media Design Practices alumna An Xiao Mina took the stage to deliver a talk entitled “The Meaning of Memes,” shedding light on how individuals across the globe are turning memes into “the street art of our social web.”
In her talk, Mina provided examples of how people in both democracies and censorship states have used memes to speak out on controversial issues, from the detainment of Ai Weiwei to the shooting of Trayvon Martin. “These memes are about more than humor,” Mina said on the TED blog. “They do what art and visual expression have always done—make us feel less alone.”
This story originally appeared in Art Center’s Spring 2014 Dot magazine, where you can read more about alumni and faculty achievements.
Sangli Li’s Expressive Wearables shields its user from intrusive sights and sounds.
With Apple and Google both adding fashion professionals to its regiments, it appears that the next consumer electronics war will be waged not over the smartphone in your pocket, but over the devices worn around your wrists and over your eyes.
Always ahead of the curve, Art Center students, instructors and alumni are currently imagining where wearables might head next. And while wearables will undoubtedly translate to big business, how might this technology change our behavior as human beings?