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Undergraduate students collaborate with AVL to demonstrate the creative application of innovative technology

IU’s Advanced Visualization Lab, an UITS Research Technologies group, facilitates student collaborative art installation: The People of IU.

News and events Research and discovery Aug 26, 2021

Warhol-inspired portrait installation, “The People of IU”, demonstrated the creative application of innovative technology and leveraged the expertise of IU’s Advanced Visualization Lab.

Conceived and directed by professors Susanne Schwibs and Stephanie DeBoer, the AVL team of Scott Birch and Chris Eller facilitated the final installation of the multi-modal portraits on Cook Center wall surfaces and a pop-up room-sized diorama which was featured in Maxwell Hall spring 2021.

The project, which gives a technological upgrade to the artist Andy Warhol’s concept of “screen tests’ ’ or candid video performance, sought to connect IU across generations and campuses. Their lens was focused on the everyday people who make up campus life, not just celebrities, “Our goals are to instigate moments of recognition, to gently, and occasionally unexpectedly, remain of our existence in a community— horizontally as we encounter people in our time on campus, online, and in town, as well as vertically as we appreciate those who came before and those who will yet appear,” wrote Schwibs and DeBoer as part of an artist’s statement.

The People of IU art installation.

Scott Birch

To accomplish this monumental task, students had to build prototypes, learn how to use software packages like Omeka and After Effects, build dioramas, set-up projection dioramas, set and calibrate the projects and media players, create mask effects, map the surfaces of the diorama as well as the walls of Cook Center, test their projections, and install and recalibrate their projections in the Cook Center Grand Hall. See the student’s journey from concept to final in this photo collection.

Samuel Bowden

I hope that I have the opportunity to do something like this again. It was incredibly rewarding to be involved with this project– it’s a unique and fascinating testament to community and collaboration.

Sam Bowden, undergraduate collaborator in The People of IU Moving Image Portraits and The Public Screen.

Over two years, the AVL team worked with undergraduates in class to apply their curatorial ideas using Omeka and Adobe’s After Effects software. “We were novices with After Effects, and learned everything from scratch,” said student Sam Bowden, who took the installation’s corresponding course P335: Production as Criticism. “Scott Birch helped us whenever we needed and always ended up offering more insight than we even asked for. It was awesome to learn from him,” he said.

“It was a pleasure working with both the faculty members, Suzanne and Stephanie, and the media school students who transformed the shared vision into a showpiece work of mixed media art. What a great way to show off the architectural upgrades in Maxwell Hall as well as debut creative and well-executed student media projects. I look forward to our next collaboration, innovation, and visualization!,” said Scott Birch, director of the AVL.

Screenshot from a video capturing a moment of The People of IU art installation.

Scott Birch

Featuring students, professors, and workers from across the campus, Bria McCarty said she enjoyed the project’s blend of mid-century conceptual art with the technological experts from the AVL. “I think it brought a fun twist to the project and shows a different version of what the portraits could be. I think in a way it stretches the idea of what 16 mm film’s capability is in the modern world with all of the advanced technology we can access,” said McCarty.

Mujin Zhang said the class both expanded skills beyond their major, and provided a sense of community during the COVID-19 pandemic year. “The exhibition is the great collaborative work made by everyone in this big group, and how harmonious it looks touched me. I’m proud to be a member of this team, and I’m proud of everyone who made an effort for this exhibition. It’s always the collaboration and teamwork of people that makes things happen,” said Zhang.

Bowden agreed, “In the future, I hope that I have the opportunity to do something like this again. It was incredibly rewarding to be involved with this project– it’s a unique and fascinating testament to community and collaboration.”

View a video of The People of IU moving portrait installation.

The People of IU: Moving Image Portraits and the Public Screen was a collaborative project made possible through the generosity, sponsorship, and support of people in the Office of the IU Bicentennial, The Media School, the Moving Image Archive, the Advanced Visualization Lab, IU3D, the Institute for Digital Humanities, the IU Cinema, the IU Office of the Vice Provost for Research, and the IU Arts and Humanities Council. Its moving image portraits have also been curated and displayed on the Franklin Hall Commons screen (Fall 2019), in a dual channel screen installation in IU’s Innovation Center (Fall 2019), and as a series of trailers at the IU Cinema (Spring 2020).

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