My interest in digital media and consequently, this program happened in a rather roundabout way. However, my curiosity about this field is driven by my love of storytelling. I wish to explore the unique manner in which interactive digital media projects are transforming narrative paradigms and use this ability to create educational interactive and immersive pieces in museum environments. I would also like to investigate the integration of multimedia elements into performances such as theatre and dance.
My educational background is in theatre, education, cultural studies and media production, with a concentration in video. In my undergraduate studies, I became proficient in a variety of production software (Final Cut Pro, ProTools, Adobe Creative Suite, Flash) and equipment. My video professor was a filmmaker who produced work focused on social justice issues. She engaged us in critical and analytic discussion about the disruptive potential of video work and encouraged us to integrate these approaches into our own work. During my senior year, she introduced my class to interactive web-based and transmedia documentaries.
This subject peaked my interest and I began to research the subject outside of class time. This led me to take an interactive new media art class where I was taught a variety of skills including basic web language (HTML, XHTML, CSS) along with some more live performance-based software (Max/MSP, ChucK, miniAudicle, Audacity).
In the fall of 2012, I co-coordinated a conference on the integration of digital media and projection in performance (eg. dance, opera and theatre) During the event I was exposed to a huge variety of approaches to this subject, but the underlying theme of speeches, workshops and discussions was what really peaked my interest: How do companies and artists integrate these diverse technologies into our works so that they are integral to the narrative and dramaturological process? In other words, how do we evolve the digital elements so that they serve more than just an aesthetic purpose to the work? As someone with a background in theatre and performance, this idea fascinated me. The integration of media into live performance is not a new idea, but that nature of the technology is so fluid and ever-changing that these professionals are struggling to create rules and standards around the use of these elements. Every project is completely unique - much of the software is bespoke, the hardware is Jerry-rigged and the set-up is improvised. These people are literally making up the rules as they go and constantly problem solving, trouble-shooting and adapting.
The prospect of such an constantly evolving environment that included two of my passions, theatre and digital media, is super exciting to me. After the conference, I began to research many of the companies and individuals that had attended and spoken. A few of my favourites included: Moment Factory, a Montreal based digital projection agency; Playground Studios, Toronto-based couple Ben Chaisson and Beth Kates who are the leaders in theatre projection and Ars Electronica, the landmark Vienna-based arts, technology and science organization.
In the spring of 2013 I worked as an educational facilitator at the digiPlaySpace interactive art exhibit at the Toronto International Film Festival. In this position I lead school groups on tours of the exhibit that engaged and informed them about the works they were viewing. This exhibit opened my eyes to the incredible interactive media works being created. It also reminded me of the way in which digital media can engage people in a multi-sensory, non-linear way that if used correctly could benefit those who have trouble learning in more traditional, lecture-style environment.
Overall, my main goal for this program would be to become not only digitally literate, but digitally fluent – meaning that I can communicate any idea I have as effectively through digital media as I can through traditional ones. I believe that digitally literacy is as important a skill to have as traditional literacy. While I currently lack the artistic vision or technological finesse to create interactive installations, I think this program will give me the skills to be able to communicate my vision to other workers in the field so as to make a project come to life. I can’t wait to discover what this year has to offer!