Eleven graduate students from UCSC's Digital Arts and New Media M.F.A. Program (DANM) will conclude two years of artistic study with "I've got something on your mind"--an exhibition of their work running April 28 through May 6 at the UCSC Digital Arts and Research Center.

The exhibition will showcase digital art with social impact, featuring works that employ advanced technologies to explore the boundaries of contemporary new media art.

“This year, the artists selected the title ‘I've got something on your mind’ for their exhibition, which exemplifies their collective spirit of lightheartedness and fun-loving approach,” noted DANM faculty member Soraya Murray, curator of the show.

“The phrase points to something impossible--like the short-circuit in logic that happens when you look at an M.C. Escher image, or when you try to simultaneously hold two contradictory thoughts in your mind.”

“But this isn't to say that they aren't tackling the serious issues and challenges of our time,” Murray added.

“Beneath the exuberance, these students ask potent questions about increasing alienation in contemporary life as a result of separation from nature, from each other, and from achieving our best selves.”

For example, Daniel Christopher's “Journey Through Light” is a game in which participants are presented with an orb that reacts and glows colorfully when triggered at different sculptural sites around the exhibition venue.

But a huge part of the piece—which seems purely playful and abstract—is that players must temporarily hand over their cell phones and engage with the locale as well as other players, in order for the artwork to be fully experienced.

“This speaks a great deal to the importance of Christopher's desire to foster live interaction as opposed to highly "mediated" engagements like Twitter and Facebook that are often associated with advanced technology,” Murray noted.

Heather Lee Logas creates a living laboratory, called “Game-Reality Workshop,” in which participants can create or tweak games to learn how they teach us social values.

“By changing elements of existing games, or paying attention to how they make up new ones, players can think together about what ethics and morals they want to activate in each other,” said Murray.

Sabrina Habel’s “Seeing Spectacle” focuses on different aspects of advertising culture, utilizing toys with visual shock-effects, billboard-style ads, infomercials, and National-Enquirer-style aesthetics to address extreme consumerism and how capitalism can push us further and further away from a relationship with nature. 

Other student projects delve deep into fantasy, interactive storytelling, and role-playing to create epic adventures that point to human searches for meaning and purpose in the world.

UCSC's Digital Arts and New Media M.F.A. program serves as a center for the development and study of digital media and the cultures it has helped create.

Faculty and students are drawn from a wide variety of backgrounds such as the arts, computer engineering, humanities, the sciences, and social sciences to pursue interdisciplinary artistic and scholarly research.

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UCSC's Digital Arts and New Media 2012 M.F.A. Exhibition runs from April 28 through May 6 at the new Digital Arts Research Center on the UCSC campus. Gallery hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The building is located off Meyer Drive near the Music Recital Hall and Theater Arts on West Campus. A reception will be held on Friday, May 4, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. For more information, go to the DANM website, or call (831) 459-1554.