This year, 40 graphic design students showcased the talents and range of our program at Imagine RIT with four impactful exhibits in Booth Hall. The projects, all led by Assistant Professor Kelly M. Murdoch-Kitt, showcased a spectrum of skills and critical thinking from sophomores, juniors, and seniors in the major.
Selected sophomores from Prof. Murdoch-Kitt and Visiting Assistant Professor Missy Warp’s three sections of Interactive Media Design presented DesignAR History, an augmented reality design history project staged in Booth 3330. Student in all three sections were randomly assigned the names of key figures in the history of computing, the web, and interaction design. After researching, sketching and planning, students designed visual panels to represent their selected figure; they printed these as posters that also served as the “markers” for their augmented reality experiences. The classes worked directly with a representative from BlippAR to learn to use their online builder tool, which they used to design and construct the augmented reality experience. The result was an engaging timeline of printed posters that, when scanned with the BlippAR app on provided iPads, would teach viewers more about each figure through additional imagery, motion graphics, and narrative information.
Juniors Isabel Bulling and Cameron Czadzeck took over Studio One with their GD Logo Remix project. In an effort to engage students in the major—and the larger community—in the program’s social media outlets and build a sense of camaraderie through design, the two devised a plan to supply a very basic “template” in both print and digital form. They projected the digital submissions they’ve received atop a giant “GD” they cut from wood and suspended from the ceiling. Meanwhile, the surrounding work tables teemed with materials to pique creativity in passersby, as they invited Imagine RIT guests to “create their own” versions of the logo.
“Izzy and Cameron spent the whole day engaging with the local community, talking to them about our program and their project, scanning in visitors’ analog GD designs, and inspiring people through creativity and design,” Prof. Murdoch-Kitt said of her two independent study students. “I hope they will continue to gain traction with this project—I’d love to see some of the submissions used as t-shirts or other promotional materials for our social media presence.”
The students received (and scanned) over 100 submissions that they will be animating and posting via the GD program’s various social media outlets before the end of this term. (There is still time to participate! Check out the details and get your own template here.)
Meanwhile, two teams from Prof. Murdoch-Kitt’s Advanced Web & Interactive Design class drew large crowds for the duration of the festival with their exhibits on opposite sides of Booth: Culture Corner exhibited in Booth 2480, and Brilliant Learning & Discovery Center took over Booth 3310. Prof. Murdoch-Kitt requires her students who take this course in the spring semester to showcase work at Imagine RIT.
“Often, students will work on a project throughout the term and use Imagine RIT as an opportunity for testing and feedback. But this group really embraced the chance to make their Imagine exhibits into the project. It was an amazing opportunity for them to exercise what they’ve learned about user experience in a very physical, tangible form.” Murdoch-Kitt said. “This is the first time in four years I’ve had two teams of seniors who are willingly wielding power tools to complete projects for my course!”
Culture Corner, created by seniors Jessica Cook, Hayley Cromwell, Crystal Follansbee, Leah Kotas, Adam Schechter and Alaina Ylitalo, led visitors through a series of activities aimed at promoting cultural empathy—all dramatically lit with blacklight. The intercultural focus of the project was inspired by the class’ semester-long collaboration with an interactive design class at Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar, located in the capital city of Doha, led by Profs. Denielle Emans and Basma Hamdy.
After passing through a corridor that invited visitors to explore implicit bias by contributing assumptions and stereotypes about the Middle East (using “invisible ink” that could only be viewed with blacklight) and reading international assumptions about the United States, visitors moved on to a video station. There, folks had an opportunity to don Google Cardboard virtual reality headsets and sit in swiveling chairs to visit several popular locations in Doha: a traditional market, Education City (home of the VCUQ campus), and The Pearl, an artificial archipelago constructed in the Arabian Gulf that features high-rise apartments, restaurants and retail in a manicured landscape. Guests moved on to view what students dubbed the “Snapchat video,” a triptich of screens simultaneously showing scenes of Qatar the students received from their partners, then edited together to create a compelling look into life in Doha. Finally, guests went head-to-head in a game that challenged them to phsyically navigate each other across a life-sized, dramatically lit game board using only non-verbal communication. “No talking, no pointing, and no ASL!” announced Hayley Cromwell as she went over the brief rules with two participants.
“The best part is that I think we were really able to change peoples’ mindset about the Middle East in some ways,” said senior Jessica Cook, who worked on the video and virtual reality experience.
Brilliant Learning & Discovery Center also drew an impressive crowd throughout the day. Visitors didn’t seem to mind standing in line to interact with the exhibit’s carefully curated and designed activities; they enjoyed the painstakingly crafted graphics the team created along one wall as they awaited their turn. Designed and built by seniors Mimi Ace, Abbey Jo Leyendecker, Dennae Makel and Lauren Mays, the exhibit draws on theories of multiple “intelligences.” The team arrived at this idea of discovery—and learning something new about oneself—after doing extensive research on their initial interest: libraries. They stumbled upon the idea that the act of “discovery” itself is disappearing, and aimed to spark new interest, and perhaps engage a new generation in the idea of discovery beyond a mere google search. The team chose five specific intelligences to focus on for the purposes of their exhibit: naturalist, bodily-kinesthetic, logical, mathematic, and linguistic. Through rounds of ideation and brainstorming, they developed several hands-on activities to engage people who embody each particular intelligence. For example, for those with “bodily-kinesthetic” intelligence, there was a thumb war challenge. Linguists in the crowd, meanwhile, would gravitate to the madlib or haiku activities.
All of these various activities came together as a giant cabinet of curiosities—a roughly 30ft x 7ft wall dotted with doorways concealing each activity. Upon entering the exhibit, guests received a card, and after completing all of the activities, they would revisit the cabinets they liked the best and take a sticker, color-coded to represent the different intelligences. After filling out their cards, guests proceeded to a table where members of the team would analyze the cards and ask visitors about their professions and hobbies. They graphed participants’ dominant intelligences, gave them a card providing further details on their dominant intelligence, and guided them to a station where they could learn more not just about their particular intelligences, but also get information about other exhibits at Imagine RIT they might enjoy based on their prevalent intelligence(s).
“It’s a lot of work for everyone involved,” Prof. Murdoch-Kitt said, “But it’s such a great learning experience for the students, not to mention an incredible opportunity to showcase what designers can do; I think it’s important for building connections across the campus as well as the local community. I hope to see more graphic design students showcasing their ideas at future Imagine RIT festivals. Start thinking of your proposal ideas this summer!”