IML 2012 Student Showcase: An Overview
On May 4th, USC students, faculty and staff gathered at the IML for the 5th annual Student Showcase.
Held each year during the first week of May, the Showcase is a celebration of all IML student work, from the first-semester undergraduate students to the seasoned Ph.D. candidates. In particular, this year’s event highlighted the thesis projects created by the fifth cohort of Honors in Multimedia Scholarship graduates: Mariana Aguilar (B.A., Psychology), Tiffany Chen (B. Arch., Architecture), Tiffany Cheng (B. Arch., Architecture), Daphne Ho (B.A., Creative Writing), and Kristine Spitznagel (B.A., Cinematic Arts Critical Studies).
Mariana Aguilar’s thesis, Visualizing Behavior Patterns, is an in-depth analysis of three different survey methods – written, interactive, and experiential. The final project includes a website detailing her research and results, a documentation of the interactive and immersive/experiential survey methodologies, and a mini-installation showcasing the immersive survey.
In the installation, users were asked to navigate a physical space by moving from marker to marker, depending on their answers to specific questions. The users recorded their answers on mobile devices, and these answers were then harvested to show the diverging physical paths that were taken by each participant as they navigated the “immersive survey.” A spatial comparison of these paths was then displayed to each participant to show a visual representation of their decision-making process.
Tiffany Chen’s thesis is titled Moving Platforms: Urban Transit Mining. Inspired by the New York City Metro system, and the development of transit systems as an iconic urban brand, Tiffany’s research seeks to use transit systems to encourage L.A. urbanism and city growth.
The final project contains an interactive architectural model of a proposed transit hub in downtown Los Angeles. The model includes touch-triggered projections, both on the model itself and on a screen mounted above. These projections highlight the foundational urban planning within downtown Los Angeles, dynamic traffic simulations through specific portions of the city, as well as high-resolution renderings of the proposed transit hub.
Tiffany Cheng’s thesis is titled Robotic Colony Construction Systems: The Architecture of Participation. Driven by her criticisms on the waste of energy, effort, and expenses of the traditional construction of architecture, the aim of her project is to develop a colony of low-tech robots that can sustainably reconstruct and reincarnate space using reusable materials.
The final project includes an interactive website detailing Tiffany’s extensive research, an animated video illustrating the concepts behind her proposed robotic system, and a physical prototype, which demonstrates in real time the behavior and possibilities of the physical instantiation of one of the robots.
Daphne Ho’s thesis, Hungry: Excavating the History of the Ho Family, postulates that family history, specifically that of the Chinese American population, is preserved in the culinary traditions passed down from parent to child. Her research focuses on using her own food experiences and memories as a conduit to explore family history, and the history of Chinese Americans since their arrival in the United States.
The final project consists of an interactive timeline and a series of videos, arranged on several screens in a physical installation. The interactive timeline, shown on the main screen of the installation, has twelve tiers, six above the timeline and six below. The six tiers above the timeline detail important moments in Chinese American history, while the six tiers below the timeline detail important moments in Daphne’s family history. On the other small screens of the installation, video interviews of Ho family members play on loop, giving further anecdotal evidence of the project’s underlying theme.
Kristine Spitnagel’s thesis is titled Studying Media in the 21st Century: Learning and Digital Notebooks. The project stems from her interest in media integration in the classroom, specifically at the K-12 level. She found that many educators and students struggle to find the appropriate tools to use in the classroom, and so she chose to build one such tool.
The final project consists of a prototype iPad app, as well as an e-book. The app utilizes the idea of argument visualization, where the user’s “thought threads” are shown as bubbles. The app allows users to visually represent the layers of their research in these bubbles, rearranging and grouping them as needed.
The accompanying e-book explains how the app works, and documents the creative process that Kristine used to conceptualize the app (including playtests). The e-book specifically emphasizes the idea of “social notebooks” and “tagging,” and how these methodologies would be used within the app to build sophisticated user interactions and, ultimately, greater cognitive growth.
“We continue to be impressed with the incredible innovation and sophistication of our students’ projects,” said Holly Willis, IML’s Director of Academic Programs. The non-thesis projects on display, chosen by IML faculty members, ranged from video essays and digital portfolios to geospatial mappings and experiments in tangible computing. Project topics included LA’s electronic dance culture, racism in political campaigning, Chile’s HidroAysen Dam Project, and the Haitian cholera outbreak of 2009.
The breadth of these projects reflects the growing diversity of the IML courses – the students enrolled at the IML this year spanned across 11 different USC professional schools. In his opening address, USC associate dean Michael Renov highlighted this diversity as one of the IML’s main strengths; this convergence of disciplines has allowed the IML to become a leader and a partner in scholarly innovation at USC. Both Renov and Willis look forward to the IML’s relocation to the main campus in 2013, which symbolizes the School of Cinematic Arts’ continued commitment to digital media scholarship, collaboration and research.
The IML congratulates all students on their incredible achievements this year! To see more photos from the Showcase, check out our Flickr album.