Graduate Media Design Practices

Anne Burdick Department Chair

Media Design Practices offers an MFA that prepares designers from a variety of backgrounds to become design leaders, researchers and entrepreneurs in emerging fields. We are looking for risk-takers with hybrid interests who can integrate innovative design with intellectual investigation and who pursue their work with depth and passion. We take a critical approach to people, making and technology and have an interdisciplinary faculty that works collaboratively to support our students’ wildly diverse outcomes. We offer two tracks — Field and Lab — that expose students to the rigors of

We are dedicated to defining new practices in design for a world in flux, and to producing graduates who are prepared for a lifetime of innovation.

distinct cultural and technological contexts. Field track students design in a real-world context where social issues, media infrastructure and communication technology intersect. Run in collaboration with Designmatters, the track is built around a yearlong project conducted in the field. Our partner for 2013–14 is UNICEF’s Innovation Lab in Kampala, Uganda. Lab track students investigate emerging ideas from design, culture, science and technology in a studio context. The curriculum is built around a series of intensive projects that bring to the studio ideas and collaborators from tech industry R&D, academic research, the international art community and the far edges of culture. Considering design merely as a tool to create “pretty things” squanders its potential. Once you see design as a means to disrupt a familiar system, you can use it to establish new boundaries and create change.
Matthew Manos Term 6

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Graduate Media Design Practices

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TITLE TEMPLE OF SELF / STUDENT AARTI VASHISHT / YEAR LAB THESIS, 2012 DESCRIPTION TEMPLE OF SELF COMBINES FUTURE FICTION WITH DESIGN RESEARCH TO INVESTIGATE SELF-SENSING IN WHICH THE BODY ITSELF BECOMES A CONDUIT FOR INFORMATION. SUBTLE YET OMNIPRESENT DEVICES (SHOWN HERE AS DOTS ON FINGERTIPS) WERE WORN BY PARTICIPANTS FOR WEEKS, YIELDING STORIES THAT POINT TOWARD A NEW OBSESSIVE NORM.

TITLE A MACHINE FRAME OF MIND / STUDENT BROOKLYN BROWN / YEAR LAB THESIS, 2012 DESCRIPTION A MACHINE FRAME OF MIND USES COMPUTER VISION AS DESIGN MATERIAL. THE ANALYTIC CAPABILITIES OF THE COMPUTER’S PERSPECTIVE COMBINED WITH THE INCREASING AMBIGUITY OF HUMAN IDENTITY GIVES RISE TO THE CREATION OF THE ABSTRACT, COMPUTERIZED SELF. BROWN IS THE 2012 MEDIA DESIGN PRACTICES POST-GRADUATE FELLOW.

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TITLE HUDDLE / STUDENT JAYNE VIDHEECHAROEN / TERM 2011

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TITLE CONTACTS / STUDENT LUKE JOHNSON / YEAR POST-GRADUATE FELLOWHSIP 2010 DESCRIPTION CONTACTS IS A SERIES OF INTERVIEWS IN WHICH CELL PHONE CONTACTS ARE USED TO EXPOSE THE SOCIAL COPING MECHANISMS THAT WE EMBED IN OUR DEVICES. JOHNSON IS SENIOR DESIGN RESEARCHER FOR NOKIA’S ADVANCED DESIGN AND VISUAL STRATEGIST FOR JET PROPULSION LABORATORY (JPL).

DESCRIPTION WEARING GOOGLE TRANSLATOR ON TWO BACK-TO-BACK COMPUTERS STRAPPED AROUND HER NECK, VIDHEECHAROEN CREATED HUDDLE, AN OPPORTUNITY FOR EXCHANGE IN SITUATIONS FRAUGHT WITH LANGUAGE AND CULTURAL BARRIERS.

Students are encouraged to follow their curiosity and use their skills as designers to investigate people and their relationship to communication technology.

TITLE PROJECT GOOD CRY / STUDENT DEE KIM / YEAR LAB THESIS 2012 DESCRIPTION PROJECT GOOD CRY EXPLORES THE CONSTRUCTION OF EMOTIONS IN DIGITAL MEDIA IN BOTH PUBLIC AND PRIVATE CONTEXTS. AS ONE OF HER EXPERIMENTS, KIM CREATED THE “I CRIED” BUTTON, A PLUG-IN THAT CAN BE INSTALLED FROM THE CHROME WEB STORE FOR YOUTUBE. KIM WORKS FOR THE INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE AND UNICEF’S INNOVATION LABS.

TITLE PORTALS AND FRIENDS / STUDENT JAYNE VIDHEECHAROEN / YEAR LAB THESIS 2011 DESCRIPTION WHEN USERS REACH INTO THEIR “PORTALS,” THEIR HANDS APPEAR TO MEET IN GOOGLE STREET VIEW WHERE THEY CAN PLACE OBJECTS, HOLD EVENTS AND MEET. THIS REAL-TIME HYBRID PLAY SPACE IS BUILT FOR TODAY’S NETWORK CULTURE. VIDHEECHAROEN IS SENIOR INTERACTIVE MEDIA DESGNER AT SCOOT & DOODLE.

Students create working prototypes to explore the exchange between digital and physical cultures and spaces.

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TITLE AFFECTION STATIONS / STUDENT SALVADOR ORARA / YEAR LAB THESIS, 2012 DESCRIPTION AFFECTION STATIONS ARE A SET OF INTERACTIVE INSTALLATIONS DESIGNED TO “REVEAL” THE INTERNAL MYSTERIES OF OUR PORTABLE ELECTRONIC DEVICES. A UNIQUE PATTERN OF SOUND, LIGHT OR MOTION IS EMITTED IN RESPONSE TO EACH MOBILE PHONE PLACED AT ONE OF THE STATIONS. ORARA IS FOUNDER/PARTNER AND CREATIVE TECHNOLOGIST AT RARE STUDIO.

TITLE BE MY SATELLITE / STUDENT BORA SHIN / YEAR LAB THESIS, 2012 DESCRIPTION IN THE EYE OF THE SATELLITE, YOU ARE NOT EVEN A PIXEL. BE MY SATELLITE USES OPEN-SOURCE SATELLITE TRACKING DATA, A LOW-TECH BALLOON CAMERA AND COLLABORATIVE SATELLITE IMAGE-HACKING TO BUILD AWARENESS OF THE PRESENCE, EFFECTS AND POSSIBILITIES OF UBIQUITOUS GEOSPATIAL IMAGING IN DAILY LIFE. SHIN IS AN INTERN AT JET PROPULSION LABORATORY (JPL) AND PARTNER/CREATIVE DIRECTOR AT A VERYNICE DESIGN STUDIO.

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Q&A
Anne Burdick Department Chair

Graduate Media Design Practices
Why did you recently introduce two tracks?

ARTCENTER.EDU/MDP

Bringing new practices to design and media is a key aim of our program. So when we see an emerging direction that offers our graduates opportunity and adventure, we go for it. We saw our alumni generally heading in one of two very different directions: future-oriented research and experimental media or on-the-ground social engagement. We felt if we created a curricular experience tailored to these orientations, we could create a vibrant dialogue and an environment that becomes a hotbed for new ideas. Talk about the two tracks. The two tracks are Field and Lab. The curriculum for each is built on a project-based model in which students approach complex situations from multiple perspectives. But the time frame and context that structures their work differs substantially. Lab track prepares students for work in high-tech, future-focused settings. Before working on a thesis project, Lab students work on five “inquiries”— three-week intensives in which they investigate recent advances in culture, science and technology. Each inquiry is team-taught with researchers, experts, and industry leaders. Field track is structured so that students can develop the deep connections and direct engagement with people that social justice-centered work requires. This means before doing their thesis work, Field students spend two terms working with an external partner — a nonprofit, NGO or development agency. These partnerships are created in conjunction with Designmatters, Art Center’s College-wide concentration dedicated to addressing issues of social importance. Is this a big departure from recent years? The Lab track is a refinement of the curriculum we have been running, and is reflected in most of the work reproduced in this Viewbook. The Field track is the newest, though it’s built upon existing elements of our program. You could say it’s grown organically out of our DNA. So you have social impact design in your DNA? Definitely. When we first named our department Media Design in 2000, we launched Super Studio, a curriculum that included a yearlong, team-based project with an explicit social agenda — not dissimilar to

our current Field track. With Super Studio we developed unique approaches to both design research and to the design of tools for communication between technology, people and institutions. Also, because our students are always considering everything they do in the context of cultural and technological transformation, we’re already used to envisioning change, pursuing change and creating change. What’s different this time around? This time we’re working with Designmatters, which expands our reach considerably. We’ve also brought in new expertise to build out a critical approach to fieldwork and communication technology. The Field faculty team is anchored by design researcher Sean Donahue, who helped develop our approach to what we call “people-knowing.” Sean is joined by Elizabeth Chin, an award-winning anthropologist who brings a performative dimension to her fieldwork and, from the MIT Media Lab, Chris Csikzentmihalyi, a creative technologist with a strong track record in civic media. How does your method of working mesh with Designmatters? To do this kind of work, effective methods of research and outreach are critical. Designmatters’ commitment to a broad range of social issues combined with our ability to drill down in unique ways amounts to a really powerful union. Designmatters has been forging this now-significant area of art and design innovation during the past decade, and they have established many fruitful local and global partnerships. Art Center’s status as an NGO is perhaps the most distinguished result of their work, and speaks volumes to what they do — and what we can do together — but their boots-on-the-ground networks, and the awareness they’ve created is what’s most impressive to me. They’ve opened people’s eyes to new ways of thinking and doing. To me, that’s all about learning and meshes perfectly with the Media Design way, which is hands-on, project-based and open to discovery. What type of person might be drawn to the Field track? Applicants choose this track because they’re interested in social justice, or the relationships between technology, policy and people’s lives. It’s an amazing education for designers who are curious about technology and want to get out in the world and work one-on-one with people. Is the track open to people without a design background as well? Absolutely. That’s true for both our tracks. Many people come to design in a roundabout way, whether it’s a slow progression or an “aha!” moment. Since we’re interested in mixed perspectives, we welcome students from a wide range of backgrounds. These students take an extra year, a very concentrated first year that provides a sophisticated introduction to the basics of design.

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Alumni Focus
Julia Tsao 2009

Graduate Media Design Practices

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Good stories do not just come from designs that solve problems. Instead, they come from design that instigates questions of the issues around us and creates dialogue between communities to further research. Those were the stories my peers and I pursued at Art Center.

Julia Tsao is the founder and creative director of independent design firm FAIR, LA. She directed an HTML-5 audiovisual experiment in collaboration with Nike and the Dazed and Confused, inspired by the Nike+ FuelBand activity tracking system. Most recently she worked as a Non-Traditional Creative at Wieden+Kennedy Portland, and is currently Director of Digital Design at Undefeated. Her work has been exhibited worldwide.
TITLE FIELD, 2012 FIELD IS A HTML-5 AUDIOVISUAL THING INSPIRED BY NIKE+FUELBAND. FIELD WAS PRODUCED FOR NIKE AND DAZED DIGITAL, IN COLLABORATION WITH LABASED MUSIC PRODUCER NOSAJ THING AND SWEDISH INTERACTIVE STUDIO DINAHMOE.

Faculty
CHAIR

Program of Study
LAB
SPRING TERM Colloquium MDP-522 Visual Narrative MDP-517 Transmedia Design MDP-502 Media History and Theory GPK-211 Motion Design 1 GPK-301 Information Design

Anne Burdick
FULL-TIME FACULTY

Elizabeth Chin Chris Csikszentmihalyi Sean Donahue Tim Durfee Ben Hooker Phil van Allen
ADJUNCT FACULTY

2-YEAR PATH FALL TERM Lab Core A Lab Core B Lab Projects 1 Critical Frameworks 1 (Lab) Colloquium SPRING TERM Lab Projects 2 Critical Frameworks 2 (Lab) Colloquium SUMMER X-TERM MDP-975 Independent Study FALL TERM Lab Thesis Critical Practices 1 (Lab) Colloquium SPRING TERM Lab Thesis 2 Critical Practices 2 (Lab)
Total Required Units

4 4 3 3 1

1 3 3 3 3 3

FIELD

2-YEAR PATH SUMMER TERM Theory, Method, and Research Technology for Social Change Media Design, People, and Publics Design and/as Research Colloquium FALL TERM Field Projects 1 Critical Frameworks 1 (Field) Colloquium SPRING TERM Field Projects 2 Field Thesis 1 Critical Practices 1 (Field) Colloquium

4 4 4 3 1

SPRING TERM Colloquium MDP-522 Visual Narrative MDP-517 Transmedia Design MDP-502 Media History and Theory GPK-211 Motion Design 1 GPK-301 Information Design SUMMER TERM Theory, Method, and Research Technology for Social Change Media Design, People, and Publics Design and/as Research Colloquium FALL TERM Field Projects 1 Critical Frameworks 1 (Field) Colloquium SPRING TERM Field Projects 2 Field Thesis 1 Critical Practices 1 (Field) Colloquium SUMMER TERM Field Thesis 2 Critical Practices 2 (Field)

1 3 3 3 3 3

12 3 1

Elise Co Shannon Herbert Garnet Hertz Justin Gier Luke Johnson Norman M. Klein Jennifer Krasinski Jane McFadden Mike Milley Christopher Morabito Thea Petchler Jennifer Rider Molly Wright Steenson Holly Willis
VISITING CRITICS

6

FALL TERM Lab Core A Lab Core B Lab Projects 1 Critical Frameworks 1 (Lab) Colloquium SPRING TERM Lab Projects 2 Critical Frameworks 2 (Lab) Colloquium SUMMER X-TERM MDP-975 Independent Study FALL TERM Lab Thesis 1 Critical Practices 1 (Lab) Colloquium SPRING TERM Lab Thesis 2 Critical Practices 2 (Lab)
Total Required Units

4 4 3 3 1

12 3 1

4 4 4 3 1

12 3 1

12 3 1

9 3 3 1

12 3 1

12 3 68

6

SUMMER TERM Field Thesis 2 Critical Practices 2 (Field)
Total Required Units

12 3 63

Julian Bleecker Denise Gonzales Crisp Paul Dourish Rene Daalder Fred Dust John Kaliski Lust Tom Marble Steve Rowell Dmitri Siegel Mimi Zeiger

3-YEAR PATH FALL TERM MDP-507 Intro to Interaction Design Colloquium MDP-510 Dev Core MDP-581 Histories of the Future PRD-254 ID Graphics 1 PRD-249 Creative Strategies

12 3 1

9 3 3 1

3 1 3 3 3 3

12 3 100

3-YEAR PATH FALL TERM MDP-507 Intro to Interaction Design Colloquium MDP-510 Dev Core MDP-581 Histories of the Future PRD-254 ID Graphics 1 PRD-249 Creative Strategies

12 3 95

3 1 3 3 3 3

Total Required Units

ART CENTER VIEWBOOK 2013–2014