Research Lab Projects
Research Labs have been central to my practice as a designer and media artist. Labs provide a larger context for collaborative work and infrastructuring long-term projects. (Note: certain projects and details are not included because of non disclosure agreements)
MEML is a lab run by Scott Fisher and Jen Stein. The lab provides a great context to conceptualize and design a a variety of experiences related to pervasive computing and mobile media. MEML has increasingly shifted towards speculative design videos, taking advantage of its relationship to the cinema school and the imaginative possibilities of fictional storytelling. Additionally, MEML has provided great opportunities for working with corporate sponsors and clients.
In 2014, I directed a speculative design fiction video for the MEML lab. It was focused on prototyping pervasive computing and responsive environments in future office buildings. I had worked on earlier conceptualizations in 2013. So the video was a final concretization of a year-worth of ideation and paper prototyping.
Memory Cellars (2013)
Memory Cellars is an augmented tour of the new Cinema building. The tour is constructed of binaural sound and voice acting to build a speculative future in which the building is a distributed archive and research headquarters for the MemCel company. The fictional characters give competing stories of the mysterious ongoings of the company’s research and its foundation. So it’s up to the participant to traverse the building in order to find different narrative clues and put the pieces together. In addition, each story ends with a prompt in which the participant can record their own memories or ideas and thus collectively author the archive. In addition to working with MEML, the building app was a collaboration with Andreas Kratky’s Living Building Project.
WBML is a lab directed by Alex McDowell. The lab is based on a conceptual model and methodology that shifts media production from single authored scripts to large scale, systematic and multi-authored story world construction. The systematic methodology creates room for nuanced and interdisciplinary constructions of whole urban environments and the socio-cultural rituals that surround them. Similarly to MEML, WBML is tied to corporate funding and international production companies.
Virtual Backlot (Working Title) (2015)
The Virtual Backlot is an ongoing research project that is investigating and reimagining cinematic and interactive workflows. By centralizing cross-media and multi-platform production, the project will open new narrative and technological possibilities for 21st Century media making.
I’m the current Research Director, leading a team of 4 interdisciplinary USC graduate students. We’ve spent the summer and fall conducting interviews with leading media professionals and theorists, to map out the “state of the industry” and develop an hypothesis for its future. Our final stage will be to create a VR, game, and film experience that models an idealized structure for cross-media storytelling.
Leviathan was an augmented reality experience created in conjunction with a virtual world, based on the YA series of the same name. I worked as Narrative Designer during the summer of 2013 to develop the initial form and concepts which would be showcased by the Intel President later that year. The project was a great experience in not only fabricating the imagined world but also designing the novel AR user experience.
Leimert Phone Company (LPC)
Annenberg Innovation Lab Project
The Leimert Phone Company is an experimental community design collective based in South Los Angeles. LPC was founded by Ben Caldwell (Kaos Network), François Bar (Annenberg Innovation Lab), Ben Stokes (American University), and myself. Our work lies at the intersection of community art, design, urbanism, LA history, and interactive storytelling. By repurposing payphones and urban furniture, LPC seeks to plan urban technology from the bottom up.
In addition to long-term strategizing and organizing, my role has been to video document and represent events and workshops, both for internal use as well as external distribution. I also run prototyping workshops and lead the design fiction video production, which teams use to represent their concepts.
For my dissertation, I’ll run community world building workshops to collaboratively imagine and design the future of the neighborhood. The designs will then be experienced as an augmented tour – full of audio, 3D architectural models, and videos – mapped onto the built environment.
Sankofa Says (2014)
Sankofa Says is place-based urban history game that was shown at Indiecade 2014. To succeed, players join flash rallies at local landmarks, make phone calls to answer riddles about local history, and tell truth from neighborhood fiction.
The game was a great way to get people out of the conference site and into the larger Culver City community and history. The flash mobs and group performances also help to energize and bring spectacle to the sidewalks. The game was designed by Ben Stokes, François Bar, Karl Baumann, Nicholas Busalacchi, and Alex Leavitt.
Tactical Media Class (2014)
The IML 404: Tactical Media Class was taught by François and myself to expand the LPC project deeper into the cinema school and widen the possible technologies. Students groups created new designs that repurposed old urban furniture: a newspaper boxes that contains Leimert history, socially networked community gardens, interactive public displays, and a bus bench that acted as a drum machine.
The class exhibited their projects as part of a plaza proposal during Leimert’s monthly artwalk. The event was a success and helped gain further signatures for the LADOT People St Plaza proposal. The plaza has since been constructed (see above) to create a pedestrian-only space between the park and the buildings across the street, including Kaos Network, The Vision Theater, and the Arts+Practice space.
AMC Detroit (2013)
In 2013, LPC went to the Allied Media Conference in Detroit to run a workshop around re-designing payphones in other cities. Participants hailed from Detroit, NYC, Washington DC, and other cities. Participants were split up in groups and used our signature mixture of rapid-prototyping and physical dramatizations to construct their designs. This video was made with former Annenberg journalist student Leila Dee Dougan.
Launch and Pitchfest (2013)
This video shows the initial formation and process of the Leimert Phone Company. The LPC was split into three groups which created design fiction videos and presented them to a larger group of community members as well as three respondents, who were veterans in technology and community organizing.
MAPP is directed by Henry Jenkins and funded by the MacArthur Foundation. The project has resulted in an ongoing Scalar project and series of youth workshops. The Scalar project focuses on case studies of innovative organizations that have deployed tactics of participatory politics to get young people involved in efforts to heighten public awareness and promote social change. My role has been to work on the media library of the Scalar project, write short analysis, and help run the youth workshops.