Ebe Odonkor

For the initial thesis project, I have decided to collect personal stories from Ghanaian WWII veterans because I had been told snippets of my great-uncle’s WWII experience when I was a child, and thought they were heroic and interesting.

Moreover, WWII vets played a major role in the struggle that lead to Ghana’s independence from the British Empire. Not many Ghanaians know this fact. I thought their accounts of socio-political life during and after colonialism would be of great interest.

Armed with this bit of information and conviction, I traveled to Accra, the capital of Ghana, and started my search for WWII veterans. I have to confess that I was a little skeptical of finding any veterans to interview, considering the life expectancy of the region is 56.

I hit a bit of luck when I was informed that the previous government, under President Jerry John Rawlings, had housed most WWII vets at Amasaman, a suburb of Accra. After an hour’s drive through heavy traffic and on the newly constructed highway to Kumasi, my assistant and I arrived at the Legion Village, armed with sound recording devices and two camcorders.

We came unannounced, so we had to knock on a few doors and make our intentions known before settling down for an interview with the five remaining WWII veterans living in the village; most of them were living with their grandchildren. The first day (it took us three days to get every veteran on tape) of interviews seemed more rehearsed than the freestyle, ignore-the-recording-devices environment I had envisioned. But, by the second and third day we were comfortable enough with each other to let go and just converse.

UNFAMILIAR VOICES Social Collaboration as Collective Performance

Joseph Hocking

There wasn’t so much a single common thread in our methodologies and interests, so much as a bunch of separate but overlapping circles.

Dan Chen

It’s not every day that you get to be affectionate around something, it just doesn’t happen that often. —Larry David1

It is because of the above that I treasure every moment of affection that I get. Robot-stimulated affection might just be something that we can use to ease in and out of real affection toward another human being.

Whatever love you can get and give, whatever happiness you can filch or provide, every temporary measure of grace, whatever works.
—Boris Yellnikoff2

Happiness and love are sometimes hard to come by. If the robot makes a person happier than a real person, we shouldn’t deprive them of it. Having said that, whatever works doesn’t mean it works the best, or is the best solution.

If you tell the truth about how you’re feeling, it becomes funny.
—Larry David3

The truth is that this device is a placebo device duplicating the act of comfort. It does in fact comfort, but it is also nonsense at the same time.

Every relationship is just so tenuous and precarious. – Larry David4

If this is true about human relationships, in many aspects it is no different than relationships people have with robots or pets.

1“Larry David.” BrainyQuote.com. Xplore Inc, 2012. 2 May. 2012.
2“Boris Yellnikoff” Whatever Works (2009) – Memorable quotes, 2012. 2 May. 2012.
3“Larry David.” BrainyQuote.com. Xplore Inc, 2012. 2 May. 2012.
4“Larry David.” BrainyQuote.com. Xplore Inc, 2012. 2 May. 2012.
File > Save As > Intimacy

Traci Vaspol

D+M is an artistically, socially and culturally diverse program. The small yearly intake means students are quickly exposed to not only the work of their immediate cohort but also to the advanced work of the second years.

This is so beneficial in a two year program. It creates an environment where new students connect with the second year students, strengthening identities of individual work and encouraging collaborations between students that you couldn’t have predicted. It is a tight knit department where strong, long-lasting relationships are forged with fellow students, faculty and staff.

Elizabeth Skadden

Robert Mueller Airport was a parcel of land that was up for sale to developers.

As the Cattelus Company began bulldozing and constructing real streets, our own runway paths disappeared. Experimental filmmaker and urban geographer Bill Brown has recorded the effect of such vanishings on his website, heybillbrown.com, a catalogue of eccentricities in the American landscape. “It’s strange to see the infrastructure disappear: A demolished gas station. A vanished ATM. Unpaved parking lots and ripped-up railroad tracks. Like somebody threw a switch, and now the city is running in reverse, shedding the stuff it’s made out of. Coming undone.”

As Cattelus construction persisted, the fence was taken down and a children’s hospital rose in the distance. Today, Robert Mueller Airport is a “community” called Mueller Development. “The sustainable, transit oriented design of this new community includes a broad range of homes plus places to shop, dine, jog, bike and play,” says their website.

There are only two reminders of the original landscape: the wooden hangar, which has been partially deconstructed and whitewashed to be a part of the children’s park, and the air traffic control tower. These are my lighthouses in a sea of unfamiliar landscape. Looking at them reminds me of specific instances, such as the time we biked to the airport and shot Super 8 of us riding over the airport runways. I can find the exact spot where this once happened but the view of Best Buy is alien. This landscape is irrevocably changed; it is no longer mine.

What happens to our memories when our topographic map changes? What happens to an emotional map based on space when that space is gone?

Skadden_LAND_HUMCON_thesis2

Janet Shih

 

I find the dualities in the definitions of “technology” and “nature” to be strangely rooted in connotations that both mirror and inhibit our thinking surrounding digital life.2014_Shih_Tech_Thesis

Often these two terms are used in opposition to one another. Technology is the result of the human hand, the inventions created by us to enhance our lives. Nature, on the other hand, is an entity that supposedly exists outside of technology, wild and organic, untouched by humans.

 

Visual Realities

Elizabeth Skadden

What value lies in the death of a medium or the change of a space?

I am not the first to explore an idea, but rather the last to make sure that the idea is no longer valid. My work resurrects dying mediums and forgotten spaces in the form of installations, films, and GPS projects. This interest has compelled me to explore abandoned buildings, all formats of movie film, large format cameras, and the empty corner lot. These spaces and mediums are only here for a little while longer, so I make art with them to preserve them, even though I know this effort is ultimately futile.

The first-hand works of the Greek poetess Sappho are largely destroyed. Yet citations in other ancient writers, often made to illustrate their own points, have kept her works in the modern spotlight. Likewise, my work rescues a scrap of a dead medium by engaging it amid the digital noise of the present. Society no longer sees these spaces or mediums as important, and leaves them behind for me to catch.

When you are using abandoned spaces and dead mediums, no one tries to define their use; you are free, and the materials are yours for the taking.

Collapsing New Buildings

Dan Chen

At the age of 16, I decided to leave Taiwan and move to the United States for a new adventure and new life.

Living with a relative and in an unfamiliar country, I learned independence, both financially and emotionally. Before I arrived in America, I was socially active, drawing great energy from my connections with others. But making new friends with a language barrier proved difficult. Every so often, if approached, I would open up to the possibility of friendship. The rewards were always tremendous, with a treasured relationship enhancing my life. But for the most part, to avoid rejection and humiliation, I became passive, opting to be self-contained.

The opposition between the way I used to be and what I had become led me to think closely about the needs of an individual, and the appropriate balance between closeness and distance that a person requires in order to thrive.

My fascination with robotics began at a very young age. Perhaps this fascination was derived from a need for companionship; with two busy parents, I spent a lot of time alone. I played with Lego blocks, combining them with wheels and rubber bands to construct a few kinetic sculptures. I still remember my first trip to an electronics store with my uncle—I was amazed by the endless possibilities that one could explore with all the different electronic components.

File > Save As > Intimacy

Elisa Giardina Papa

Image production is becoming a social practice in which a global multitude creates, captures, releases, and exchanges images on an everyday basis as a way to find and define personal identity, establish and cultivate social relations, and express counter-narratives or dissent.

These images are the material of my writing and my works. I search for them in archives, follow their circulation, become their audience, get in contact with their producers, and re-combine them into films. By narratively re-presenting the history of these images, my work seeks to investigate the agency and emotional patterns created by their movement as well as the contradictions they embody.

Image as Social Practice

Lisa Iaboni

I bought my first digital camera in 2004.

It was a Canon PowerShot digital point-and-shoot. After carrying around a large format camera and a tripod, this was much easier. Slip it in my bag and go. When holiday events came around my relatives wanted to compare my camera with theirs.

“How many megapixels you got?” —Uncle Silvio

“Oh, that’s a nice camera. How many megapixels?” —Grandpa

“5 megapixels? I just bought a Nikon that has 6 megapixels” —Aunt Kay

The flurry of questions that accompanied having a digital point-and-shoot camera in the early aughts was similar to the novelty of the iPhone when it was introduced in 2007. Unlike the iPhone though, I wasn’t totally impressed with the quality of the image and I didn’t have a printer.

What used to take a day or two had collapsed into less than a second:

• Waiting to agitate film during the development process
(5 seconds every 30 seconds for 7 minutes, depending on water temperature)

• Waiting for the film to dry (overnight)

• Waiting to pick up film from the color lab (usually about two days plus the 40 minute trip to and from Manhattan)

• Waiting 5 minutes for fiber based paper to soak in the Fixer bath before it could be exposed to light

• Waiting for a c-print to run through the processor (5 minutes)

• Learning how to color balance c-prints so you never see MAGENTA again (6 months)

There was something important about the waiting time between taking a picture and seeing it.

Finding Photo Gold