UCSC graduate students to showcase digital art with social impact

Scene from "Voyage of the Inner Mask," Kathleen Kralowec's digital animation about a journey through imaginary landscapes in pursuit of self-understanding.
Karl Baumann's "Livingverse" is an immersive audio-video walking tour that investigates the relations between memory, media, and power through an interactive semi-fictional exploration of public history.
Topher Maraffi performs a virtual rendition of the classic Marx Brothers "Mirror Game" with his digital double in his project "Mimesis & Mocap."

Fourteen graduate students from UCSC's Digital Arts and New Media M.F.A. Program (DANM) will conclude two years of artistic study with "Things That Are Possible"-an exhibition of their work running April 30 through May 9 at the campus's new Digital Arts and Research Center.

The exhibition will examine digital art with social impact, featuring interactive installations plus audio, video and performance pieces-all using advanced technologies to explore the boundaries of contemporary new media art.

"This year, the artists selected the title of their exhibition," noted DANM faculty member Soraya Murray, curator of the show. "Things That Are Possible" suggests positive change-not by aiming for fantasies and utopias, but by taking what's in front of you and re-imagining its possibilities."

"I suppose that this is in keeping with what has traditionally been one of the many roles of art: to take the tools at hand, and use them to break through to the other side," she added.

Some of the students have created works that refer to an increasing disconnectedness from the physical world due to technology.

Others play with the expected uses and functions of software, using sensors and the human body to determine what code is, and what it can or cannot do.

Another common theme of the work is the search for identity, such as in Kathleen Kralowec's surreal sci-fi digital animations, or Antoine A. Jaoude's customizable iPhone app--which personalizes your favorite pop songs to suit your preferred cultural identity.

"One of the major themes I see in this year's work is the importance of play and participation as a way of transforming the everyday, so that we can see it in a new or unexpected way," said Murray.

"For example, Lyès Belhocine's "Sounds Interesting.." project uses man-made noises so present in the background that we may not notice them anymore, and brings them into the foreground by asking us to experiment and play with them.compose with them, really."

"Similarly, Christoph Girard's "Lady/Applicant:The Lazarus" project uses imagery recorded from the "visual" noise of the city-specifically the many street signs and painted markings-to compose poetry," Murray added.

A reception will also take place on Friday May 7, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., featuring food, drink, and music-plus an opportunity to meet the student artists. Admission is free and open to the public.

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.

UCSC's Digital Arts and New Media 2010 M.F.A. Exhibition runs from April 30 through May 9 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. An exhibition preview will be held on April 29 during the opening celebration for the new center, from 3 to 5 p.m. For more information, go to DANM website, or call (831) 459-1554.