The UConn Department of Digital Media & Design is thrilled to announce that its 2020 Senior Exhibitions will open online on Monday, April 27, 2020. These virtual group exhibitions feature the work of senior BFA students from the Storrs campus and senior BFA and select BA students from the Stamford campus. These online exhibitions replace the previously scheduled exhibitions in the Jorgensen Gallery of theJorgensen Center for the Performing Artsand theUConn Stamford Art Gallerywhich were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
These exciting exhibitions feature a wide variety of digital projects created by seniors graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, and a few select Bachelor of Arts, in Digital Media & Design. Artworks range from 2D and 3D animations to interactive web and game projects that tell unique stories that explore many themes. To view the galleries, visit:http://dmd.uconn.edu/bfashow.
In addition, the public is invited to watch the completed films and animations in an online screening Premiere via YouTube at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 8th, which will also serve as a celebration and virtual reception.http://youtube.com/uconndmd.
Exhibiting artists, Storrs campus:Shay Albert (Woodstock, Conn.),Sign, Hand-drawn 2D animation; Owen Boyle (Branford, Conn.),Out of Left Field, 3D animation; Emily Cesarini (Greenwich, Conn.),Guidance,3D game; Shawn Chen (Litchfield, Conn.), Internship video; Emma Rose Cooper (Waterbury, Conn.),Home, Interactive 3D environment; Jeffrey Dobbs (New Haven, Conn.),Synth-Sense, 3D animation; Eric Fritz (Millersville, Md.),Stop Talking To Me, Hand-drawn 2D animation; Allie Marsh (Old Lyme, Conn.),Why We Fly, Film; Tal Modiano (Woodbridge, Conn.),Wade/Cull Music Video, 2D animation; Cynthia Reinert (Berlin, Conn.),Wonder, Interactive web art; Morgan Rossi (Glastonbury, Conn.),Waddle We Do?, Installation with 3D animation; Courtney Senior (New Milford, Conn.) & Emily Touch (Cromwell, Conn.),Staraway,Game; Sarah Shattuck (Stamford, Conn.),MIACRO, 2D animation; Sheryl Wang (Ellington, Conn.),A Little Too Real,Animated web comic; Justin Woods (Thornwood, N.Y.),Perfect Fit, 3D Animation
Exhibiting artists, Stamford campus:James Campbell-Gibson (Capetown, South Africa),One a Day,Website and animation; Anthony Cavuoto (New Milford, Conn.),The New Nintendo, Video and brand book; Nolan Didio (Monroe, Conn.),Stranded, 3D animation; Jeremy Gonzalez (Stamford, Conn.),Conflict Within, 2D animation; Julian Kinney (New Rochelle, N.Y.),Full Metal Cactus, 2D animation; Tyrrell Serrano (Bridgeport, Conn.),Desert Dash and Tilt:Maze, Mobile games; Ryan Story (Stamford, Conn.),Untitled, 2D and 3D animation; Linh Tran (Bridgeport, Conn.), “Breaking the Glass Ceiling: How the Mad Women Changed the Face of the Ad Industry,” Poster; Andrew Zhou (Trumbull, Conn.),Umbra, Interactive narrative; James Zilvitis Jr. (Winsted, Conn.),HMS Triton Six Gun Frigate, 3D model
The University of Connecticut’s Department of Digital Media & Designprovides an innovative and transformative experience to educate students in animation, gaming, web and interactive media design, digital media business strategies, film/video production, and the digital humanities.
The University of Connecticut’s School of Fine Artsbalances artistic and cultural legacies with the innovative approaches and techniques of contemporary art. In so doing, the School of Fine Arts serves students at the University of Connecticut in both their educational and their professional development. The outstanding faculty from the four academic departments are committed to providing rigorous professional education and all offer undergraduate and graduate degrees. Our academic programs are supported by specialized and uniquely focused showcases, stages, exhibition space and forums which include the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, William Benton Museum of Art, Contemporary Art Galleries, Connecticut Repertory Theatre and von der Mehden Recital Hall.
Undaunted by the restrictions caused by the pandemic, UConn’s 2020 MFA exhibition is now online.
Photographer Elizabeth Ellenwood was working at a photo lab in Boston making prints when she decided it was time to further explore her own artistic endeavors.
“I also had an interest in teaching. I wanted to find a place that would give me the opportunity to try out teaching and see if that’s something that I wanted to continue working on,” she says about enrolling in the MFA program in Studio Art three years ago. “While I enjoyed being in the dark room, I was making prints for other people. I just really wanted more time to focus on my own artwork.”
Ellenwood’s exploration of her own photography and art can be seen inthe unique 2020 edition of the annual Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition at The William Benton Museum of Art, which is posted on the museum’s website due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The online exhibition in Studio Art is titled “Tideland” and in addition to Ellenwood includes the works of painter and sculptor Olivia Baldwin, multimedia artist Shadia Heenan Nilforoush, and artist and printmaker Chad Uehlein. The Digital Media & Design online exhibit is titled “Square One” and includes the works of Jonathan Ampiaw, Karin Ching, Stefan Lopuszanski, Laurel Pehmoeller, and Jasmine Rajavadee.
“Square One” offers a variety of mediums including narrative film, hybrid digital and physical games, animation, installation, and projection mapping. Each exhibited work acts as a window through which the audience can access new worlds, personal memories, and cultural reflections, connecting visitors to where each artist started.
Ampiaw’s video game explores the themes of personal development and social growth. Lopuszanski’s game blurs the line between the digital and physical realms to create an innovative gameplay experience. Ching examines her journey to a new country, illustrating the cultural differences she has discovered between Taiwan and the United States, centered around food. Pehmoeller’s short film reflects on her own experiences as a young adult trying to find her way in the world. Rajavadee investigates the artist’s Lao-American upbringing with reference to cumulative memories and emotions associated with connecting the personal and the (multi)cultural.
Faculty in the University of Connecticut’s Digital Media and Design program have come together to collaborate on the Digital Experience (DX) Lab.
The DX Lab is led by Joel Salisbury, director of research and user experience design, Michael Vertefeuille, director of operations and emerging technology and Brian Daley, director of infrastructure and app development.
The lab’s work covers a wide range of projects involving digital experiences and interaction, Vertefeuille explained.
“Quite simply, we love to build really cool stuff. Our projects have run the gamut. We work with electronics, connecting it to interesting digital experiences, large-scale databases that serve the non-profit sector, and sometimes we just build things to see if they’ll work,” Vertefeuille said.
These projects include Wellscan, a website and app made in collaboration with UConn’s Rudd Center on Food Policy and Obesity which helps food banks and food pantries manage their inventory. Additionally, the DX Lab has worked on different interactive museum installations, such as the Tree Sway Monitor featured at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT.
Another project to come out of the DX Lab was the Smart Mirror, which is a mirror that doubles as a screen to display things such as time, date, and weather. This mirror was one of the projects built out of the DX Lab’s Special Topics course.
“Sometimes, we run the DX Lab as a Variable Topics/Special Topics course. This is usually where our most “out-there” experimental work seems to occur. In this environment, we pick problems we want to solve or technologies we want to explore and go nuts trying to make something cool,” Salisbury said.
Collaboration with students isn’t just limited to the Lab’s classes, though. The DX Lab has several students run independent projects through the lab. They also employ students in their work.
“Students are the driving force behind all of the work we do. Their creative energy is what makes the DX Lab fun,” Daley said.
The group explained that while the lab officially formed a little over a year ago, the three of them have been working on the same topics since getting to UConn.
“We ‘officially’ formed in December 2018, but the three lead faculty members (Salisbury, Vertefeuille, Daley) have shared research interests since assuming our respective roles,” said the group.
In addition to the work the DX Lab is already doing, they’re quickly expanding.
“As of Spring 2020 the three of us oversee the newly-formed DX Group within UConn’s Center for Open Research Resources and Equipment (COR2E), through which we hope to collaborate with other researches on campus who may be in need of web development, app development, UX design or similar work,” the trio explained.
As for students looking to get involved in digital media and digital experience design, the group encouraged students to lean into the uncertainty of the field.
“Be bold! Embrace the fact that the field moves quickly and allow yourself to get excited about ‘not knowing,’ rather than daunted by ‘not knowing,’” Salisbury said.
UConn Gaming Club (UCGC) manages to stay connected with its 1,200 members and host online events despite students remaining at home for the rest of the semester.
According to UCGC president, Digital Media & Design major Devyn Lowry (BA ’20), the club has hosted online community nights in an effort to keep members active and connected with each other. In the past two weeks, Lowry has hosted movie nights over the live streaming software Kast and plans to have a game night where members play various Jackbox party games.
Lowry, an eighth-semester digital media and design major, mentioned that the club’s biggest plan currently is to reconstruct Gampel Pavilion, or some part of it, in “Minecraft” and subsequently host commencement in the game. He mentioned this was the club’s plan of trying to give back to the community, especially to graduating UConn seniors. At the moment, the club is trying to figure out the servers that it will take place in and the mods needed for the project.
“We have a team of builders working very hard to get [Gampel] reconstructed,” Lowry said.
During a normal semester, UCGC hosts meetings from 6 to 11 p.m. in the School of Business. The club books up to four different rooms; they set up roughly four PCs for a free-play area or host a small tournament in the main lecture hall, and the smaller rooms are for games with bigger communities like League of Legends or Super Smash Bros. Lowry said that the largest community of players is for Super Smash Bros., mentioning that the game brings in 50 to 60 people each week as they play in one-versus-one or two-versus-two matches.
Lowry said the club’s ultimate goal is “to create a place at UConn where competitive and [casual] gamers alike can come together and form a welcoming community for anyone who has a passion for video games.”
UCGC also has competitive esports teams for games like Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, League of Legends and Rocket League. One of the club’s goals is to have an esports program that is officially recognized by the university. Lowry cited other universities like Ohio State University and Northeastern University that have official esports programs.
“There’s no reason why we can’t take what we’ve done for college basketball and become the staple for collegiate esports,” Lowry said.
The club’s biggest events of the year are the Husky Games and the Winter Prowl, the former of which would have taken place at the end of spring. The Husky Games is an 11-hour event that brings anywhere between 500 to 700 people to the Student Union Ballroom. University students and alumni are able to form teams and compete for various prizes like mice, keyboards, graphics cards, headsets and more that are donated from sponsors. Some of the sponsors of the event include Nvidia, iBUYPOWER, Microsoft, Logitech and HyperX.
“Everyone’s coming and enjoying and sharing the love for video games,” Lowry said.