“Access Everything”: New Media Night 2017
Thursday 4 May 5-7pm
IMRC (Innovative Media Research and Commercialization center)
This year’s annual festival of new media at the University of Maine invites visitors to test-drive the expanded access that digital technologies can offer to populations with diverse backgrounds, abilities, and interests. Available to demo are mobile apps for the blind, peer-to-peer networks for women coders, a video terrarium that brings the weather inside your home, and other projects ranging from lasercut lamps to battling robots.
New media senior Toni Kaplan won UMaine’s undergraduate research award for her phone app that helps blind and low-sighted people read scientific diagrams. Users who run their finger over an image of the helium atom or a model of the earth’s atmosphere hear audio tones and feel vibrations that convey transitions from one part of the diagram to the next, as well as voiceovers that explain its various components.
Based on a study conducted with over 100 participants, Katie Galley’s “It Brings Me Back” demonstrates how music can unlock memories. Especially designed for the IMRC’s immersive video room, her installation surrounds visitors with animated text of her participants’ memories, juxtaposed with recordings of the music that triggered them.
Virtual access is a theme of other projects on view, including games by Eric Morrison, Aidan Bauer, and Trevor Lagassie that employ algorithmically generated levels to keep players guessing as they try to navigate an unfamiliar environment. In Morrison’s Virtual Reality-based road rally, two players wearing different headsets work together to traverse a fixed-distance course of procedurally-generated mountains and roads, with the goal of reaching the finish line as quickly as possible. Generating the route anew for each gameplay ensures that drivers and co-drivers refrain from attempting to memorize the racecourse, and, instead, maintain focus on collaboration.
Silvia Guzman’s interactive booth contrasts racial and gender media stereotypes with actual anecdotes that break those cliches. Aiming to correct the gender bias in STEM education, Ruth Leopold’s Coders Collaborative offers peer-to-peer mentoring to women programmers in the form of online tutorials and help networks.
Other capstones offer access to arcane or fantastical private worlds. Sarah Courtright’s interactive animated film offers a canine version of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, with a surprising narrative twist. Reese Ullman’s lasercut book of spells must be unlocked with clues hidden in social media and in the cover of the book itself.
Refreshments will be served. Directions at imrccenter.com/find-us. For more information contact New Media Program Coordinator Jon Ippolito (jippolito AT maine DOT edu).