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Exploring Tech in Remote Landscapes

Over spring break, five grad students in Digital + Media joined their TA and two instructors in conducting research at various desert sites in Nevada and California. Among them was the abandoned mining town of Rhyolite, NV, where Xiaohan Li MFA 18 DM experimented with sound and space in a variety of natural and industrial environments (above) and the Turquoise Peak Communication Site in California (below) – a former US military facility that was used for secure ground-to-air transmissions.

The weeklong excursion supported ongoing work in the Technological Landscapes research studio, co-taught by Department Head Shona Kitchen and Critic Aly Ogasian MFA 15 DM. Through an emphasis on collaboration and field research, students in the course are encouraged to consider how advancements in technology alter physical spaces and create virtual ones.

While in the desert the researchers used an assortment of high- and low-tech tools – including a modification of the familiar cup-and-string relay device – to manipulate the travel of sound waves across across one of the two massive trenches that make up Double Negative (below), one of the first “earthworks” by pioneering land artist Michael Heizer.

Students also traveled to Badwater Basin in Death Valley, CA – which, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in North America. With the help of a high pole device, they gathered video and photographic documentation of the landscape and conducted experiments with a remote device created by Adi Azulay MID 17. Pairs of students “spoke” by relaying morse code-like LED patterns to one another across vast distances, demonstrating the human instinct to improvise various means of communication.

Laura Swanson (DM 11) in “The Creative Process” podcast by WAMC

Laura Swanson (DM11) is featured in Dave Hopper’s “The Creative Process” podcast by WAMC Northeast Public Radio.

The podcast can be found here on the WAMC website: or on iTunes here:

Laura Swanson is an artist examining the behavior of looking at physical difference, working across various media including drawing, installation, photography, and sculpture. Born in Minneapolis, she received her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2011 and BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2008. Recent solo exhibitions include “Resistance”, presented at the Laurie M. Tisch Gallery in New York in 2016. Her work will be featured on the cover and within “Anti-Portraiture: Challenging the Limits of the Portrait”, published by I.B. Tauris in October 2017. An upcoming solo exhibition of new and recent work will be hosted by the Attenborough Arts Centre in the United Kingdom, opening September 2017. Her awards include grants and scholarships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship program, and the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation. She lives and works in New York, NY.

“Since the Epoch” Exhibition Review

Earlier this month students in Digital + Media participated in Since the Epoch, an exhibition at Boston Cyberarts Gallery that caught the attention of the local creative community.

In its review, the Boston Hassle lauded the variety and depth of imagination on view during the three-day show, which was curated by first-year students Ben Aron MFA 18 DM and Cody Filardi MFA 18 DM. Among the works singled out by reviewer Maryam Yoon was Xibaba, a levitating “GIF sculpture” by Joe Winograd MFA 18 DM

…and Poetic Visualizations, a multimedia installation by Kristen Shea MFA 18 DM. Yoon writes that Shea’s combination of poetry, 3D animation and sculpture results in a piece where “these three forms of representation… occupy separate yet deeply interconnected cognitive spaces.”

Featuring video, algorithmically manipulated text and a performance piece by Jeremiah Johnson MFA 18 DM (below, from an exhibition at the new sound performance studio on campus), among other works, the show testified to the diversity of work emanating from the department.

Mimi Cabell (PT Faculty) published in Cabinet Magazine Cabell's collective with Phoebe Stubbs, Contributors Inc., works to highlight the gender imbalance in the contributors to art criticism


Mimi Cabell (Assistant Professor, Experimental and Foundation Studies) and her fellow collaborator Phoebe Stubbs are the organizers of Contributors Inc, which was recently published in the current issue of Cabinet Magazine in an article is entitled Cabinet.

Contributors Inc. is a collective that works with the contents lists in art and culture magazines to highlight the gender imbalance in the contributors to art criticism. Redressing imbalance is often discussed in terms of the visibility of artists, but less in reference to those who create the discourse around art. As a development of this work, the collective has come to see art magazines as both archives of the art world, they constitute its critical history, and sites in which shifting trends based on commercial and political concerns are visible. The method used to construct the article in Cabinet Magazine collected the contributors and contents lists from every issue published of a single magazine and then utilized this textual content to visualize patterns, ideas, and trends as they shift over time.

More information can be found here

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