ICAM 2012: With high-technology, UCSD students fashion new world of art in La Jolla

Tera Miller studied the covers Vogue magazine for her project. Will Bowen
Tera Miller studied the covers Vogue magazine for her project. Will Bowen

By Will Bowen

If you’re interested in the latest developments, discoveries and directions in technology and computing — especially as they affect the arts, media and music — the place to be is the Interdisciplinary Computing in the Arts and Music (ICAM) major presentations, held at the end of the school year each June on the UCSD campus. 2012 marks the 12th year that the ICAM presentations  — a joint venture of both the Visual Art and Music Departments — have taken place. This year they were held in the Mandeville Annex Art Gallery and the Calit2 Digital Theater, June 13-15. Peter Otto, a Professor of Music, headed up the activities.

“This year’s projects were more practical and geared more toward the job market,” Otto said. “The overall concern was with historical themes, popular culture, pop music, mainstream media, and movie soundtracks. Many of the data visualization models could be considered as works of art in and of themselves.”

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Tera Miller studied the covers Vogue magazine for her project. Will Bowen

The most powerful current that ran through the students’ works pointed out how improvements in computer technology can aid in historical research and help create new art out of old art.

The new technology also makes it much easier for independent enterprise by individuals who can now compete with the big companies in the marketplace.

For his project, Cyrus Kiani researched the new Library of Congress website called chronoclingAmerica.loc.gov. On this site you will find complete issues of many of American’s newspapers dating back into the 1800s; exciting news for historians who like to pour through old newspapers looking for old tidbits.

Kiani transformed his research into both data visualization and art by flashing on a screen, the front page of each issue of The Hawaiian Star from 1883 to 1912.

As the pages flashed you could clearly see the trends in layout, design and typography at the paper over time. Kiani hypothesized that many of the changes were due to readers having much less time to read.

“As our computers get better and faster and our technology improves, we are better able to visualize more data from media. This is called the ‘Second Industrial Revolution,” Kiani noted.

Cassandra White took the postmodern notion that we should pay more attention and give greater voice to the marginalized. She weaved the notion in with her interest in the writings of Flannery O’Connor to create a project called “Displaced People.”

White shined a light from above down on a hanging wall sculpture made of cut paper to create an artistic image of a marginalized person, such as a farm worker, composed entirely of shadows.

“As I was working with the cut paper and the light, I found images. I kept witling these images down until I found an organic image of a person,” White explained.

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Cassandra White with her art project composed of shadows, titled "Displaced Persons" at ICAM presentations

Tera Miller took the artwork from the cover of every single issue of Vogue magazine from 1902 to 2011, then shrunk them down and laid them out side by side to reveal patterns in the cover design.

The earliest issues were quite different from later ones because Vogue started as a clothing pattern-making publication and only later morphed into a fashion magazine.

Miller also was able to create art works out of overlaid composites of the cover images, and from the three dimensional mapping of different cover features (like color and hue) and from colorful scatter plots of covers based on things like density of imagery.

The computer technology Miller used would allow one to take aspects from Cezanne’s paintings and blend them with others from Van Gogh to create a new composite art form.

“My work revealed historic patterns and trends, such as when women’s liberation began to affect Vogue. The technology I used offers the potential to create new art out of old art,” Miller said.

Other presentations came from Ray Au Yeung and Aldrin Rayopay, who wrote and self produced their own musical CDs; Jessica Wu, who created an online–for-pay videogame called “Child’s Play”; Michelle Lin, who created a series of newsreel specials about developments in video games; Henley Wen and Jay Chow, who used computer technology to analyze the enormously popular DeviantArt website; Shawn Cornell, who shot a video of a band playing at the Casbah Night Club; Jeremy De Haviland, who created a videogame for learning to play blues guitar; Timothy Stein who took a whimsical look at data security;  and Sam Dosher, who gave a live DJ performance.

   
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