I majored in Electronic Media, Arts, and Communication (EMAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Having taken the “digital storytelling” concentration in EMAC, my thesis class was Advanced 3D Projects under Shawn Lawson. Most kids in my concentration tend to aim for careers in big-name animation studios like Pixar, Dreamworks, and Blue Sky. I did not. Despite having the option of concentrating in graphic design, I opted for the 3D path. Odd, considering my penchant for graphic design. I love it. I love looking at it and I love learning about it and I love trying my hand at it. My undergraduate thesis, Pretty Shapes, ended up being a very stylized, graphic merger of 3D rendering and 2D video. I collaborated with Rosa Tung. She’s a creative genius. We wanted to go for something very anti-symbolism because as ex-architecture students, we’ve had our fair share of utter bullshit explanations during critiques. We were sick of the fake passion and impromptu meaning behind student work.
Pretty Shapes was a happening that took place on May 10th. The audience for Pretty Shapes consisted of two groups of people; the ones who look for symbolism in everything they see and those who take what they see at face value. With my thesis event, I aimed to bring these two groups together with a multi-disciplinary art soiree including 3D projection mapping on walls in my apartment, an art gallery with work from all 4 years at RPI on the walls, smoke machines, balloons stuffed with glow-sticks, and strobing lights. The content for the 3D projection is comprised entirely of looped green-screen matte painted clips of Rosa and I performing strange movements in front of jarring geometric patterns and 3D rendered animated shapes in Autodesk Maya and Adobe After Effects.
The meaning is completely arbitrary. It is the anti-statement. I wanted to employ “pretty” geometric shapes and patterns to show beauty in something with no real depth or message. The look of the content was inspired by the music videos of “Scream and Shout” by Will.i.am and Britney Spears and “Electric Feel” by MGMT. Saul Bass once quipped, “I want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares.” That was exactly my sentiment. I merged the ideas of meaningless consumer-driven life with an ambient, out-of-this-world psychedelic vibe. This is why my two groups of audience were so crucial to the event; their reactions to the ambient surroundings added depth to this seemingly meaningless soirée. The audience ended up being the statement. Adding to the ambiance was Evan Gonzalez (Duryea-Gode) with his improvisational live performance of electronic music (hence why our video has no soundtrack). The soirée was an aleatory experience, a fluxus; the audience walked up a dark staircase into my apartment where they had the choice of going anywhere and eventually lead down another flight of stairs to the backyard where another ambience engulfed them.
It was a great success! Everyone had a great time and my advanced-3D professor stopped by for a while! We stocked up on a ton of liquor and Pabst Blue Ribbon and cooked up a storm so that no one left our apartment with an empty stomach.
I graduated on May 25th. What a dark, rainy day! I was freeeeezingggg outside in my Lilly Pulitzer lace dress and sandals. All of the soon-to-be-grads were lined up outside under flimsy white tents for ages. We walked into the building, wet, proud, and sort of all ready over it. Haha. The ceremony was like any other; full of pomp, circumstance, and teary-eyed families. The most important thing that day (aside from receiving my diploma) was convincing my dad to let me stay in Troy, NY to work on a start-up.
Resulting from an engineering capstone class I took for fun this past semester, me and two other grads (one is a computer systems engineer and the other is an electrical engineer) are participating in RPI’s incubator program to fully realize our project and make it commercially successful. I’m not at liberty to provide details BUT I can say that it’s going to be super exciting! Professor Burt Swersey has taken a huge interest in our idea and will be our primary investor for now. We plan on entering business plan cometitions and applying for grants to fund our expenses.