Engaging New Media Artworks Exhibited by Digital Arts and New Media MFAs

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The UC Santa Cruz Digital Arts and New Media (DANM) MFA program presents unforgettable, the culminating exhibition of its 2022 MFA cohort, presented free to the public at the Digital Arts Research Center April 22-May 1 with a special performance May 20-29 at the Experimental Theater. Organized by Yolande Harris, DANM Affiliate Professor, Research Associate and Lecturer in Music and Art, unforgettable features a diverse range of new media artwork by five graduate artists.

“The exhibition captures the essence of the five individual voices that have been formed over two years of concentrated artistic research and development at DANM,” said Harris. “Common threads of lost histories, hidden realities and hauntings permeate the works.”

Mohamadreza Babaee, Iranian researcher in performance and digital media studies and transdisciplinary artist, contributes global (re)entry, a work that creatively simulates the US Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry software, created to facilitate traveler screening for U.S. citizens and “low-risk” permanent residents, and redefines it as a video game and a pro-immigrant 2D installation. According to Babaee, “This project aims to intervene in the current broken US immigration system. The game encourages a closer look at the systems through which the social, political and civic ostracism of immigrants is perpetuated. Moreover, the project invites actors to formulate an ideal vision of society based on equality, equity and inclusion.

Egyptian-American film and theater director Laura Boutros explores the Egyptian-American diaspora in Amdouat: The Twelve Hours of Ra, an immersive and multimedia theatrical work taking place over two weekends, from May 20 to 29. The work, which is inspired by ancient Egyptian myths, situates Egyptian aesthetics in the Western museum space, taking the public on a “docent” visit led by major personalities of the Egyptian pharaonic era. “The play questions the legacy of colonialism in narratives and history while highlighting the role of the media in perpetuating misinformation surrounding the stories of Egypt,” says Boutros.

Troubled Waters: The Ocean as a Contested Space in Californian Surf Culture is the name of Dave Crellin’s site-specific installation exploring the history of white supremacy, racial exclusion and erasure in popular surf and beach culture. The project includes an ongoing intervention at surf venues along the California coast using surf-style stickers embedded with QR codes to educate the public; activism within surf marketing and consumer culture; audio recordings of colored surfers; and an interactive website. Said Crellin, an interdisciplinary artist and lifelong surfer, “My hope is that this project will instantiate a reckoning and a reassessment in whiteboarding culture, raise awareness among surfers of color, scholars, activists and creatives working to change surf culture, and further opens up space to reimagine the beach and ocean as places of equity, inclusion, diversity and community.

Forest Reid, sound designer, composer and installation artist, presents The latest Galician standard, a multi-screen interactive video installation that follows a switchboard operator in 1930s Detroit, haunted by a family who remained in Eastern Europe. The piece was inspired by family letters from the late 1910s that contain words of personal anguish and pleas for help from relatives in war-ravaged Europe. The latest Galician standard incorporates these letters along with excerpts from Yiddish drama, literature, and folklore. “The work uses standards to connect the dead to the living, to respond to unanswered letters of despair, and to connect the present with the past that haunts it,” says Reid.

dani wright, queer game designer and digital artist, offers blood playa facility that explores their concept of a ‘gothic queer’ genre through game fragments, printed zines, installations and theory. wright states, “The work I present is an example of how we as queer game designers can engage with queer, goth, monstrous theory while working within the queer goth genre, which I identify as a radical genre that draws on Gothic. structures to usurp the status quo.

DANM studies the creative potentials and social implications of emerging technologies and digital cultural practices. The two-year MFA program emphasizes artistic and technological innovation, interdisciplinary collaboration, and social action.

More information on unforgettable can be found here.

Viewing Information Amdouat: the twelve hours of Ra is available here.

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