Meet the IRC: Calvin Kumagai

June 7th, 2014


Calvin Kumagai is a senior studying Interactive Media at UMBC. Growing up, he loved playing video games, and decided that he wanted to graduate from merely exploring other people’s virtual worlds and start creating his own. In his time at UMBC, he has worked as a 3D modeler and animator on independent student games and projects with the GDC, including EMT Merci and Deliverance. He joined the IRC as an intern in order to gain more experience, and is currently working as an artist on the Early Baltimore 3D project.

Dome Explorer Phase 2

May 12th, 2014


Visualizing the Sciences in the the 21st century:

Since completing the first phase of an augmented reality iPad app for visitors to the National Academy of Science’s headquarters on the National Mall in Washington, NAS has contracted the IRC to take the project to the next level. In January 2014, the second phase of the project was begun to explore how the platform could be used to describe the advance of the explosive and complex growth of sciences since the dome was built in 1924. Could it portray science and mathematics as they are now: a dynamic network of constantly changing fields? Such a portrayal is in stark contrast to the 1924 version of the sciences painted on the building’s dome, where the disciplines appear to sit separately in their own neat, concise, and orderly worlds.

Now in the program design phase, this new stage of the project presents significant challenges. How can visitors, with little more than a minute or two to spend, take in the most fundamental characteristics of a subject as vast as science? The iPad has little graphic memory. Videos and text of any length are out due to time constraints. Given the controversial place science continues to hold in the public mind, the stakes are high and the opportunity is great to capture something that might quickly entice users and re-direct that problematic narrative. Success could lead to more collaborations between NAS and the IRC to help define the role of science in our lives in ways that might positively affect discourse about public policy and STEM education.

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Meet the IRC: Deborah Firestone

May 5th, 2014


“If a picture is worth a thousand words,” says senior Animation/Interactive Media major Deborah Firestone, “then an animation is worth a million.” Growing up, like most kids, Deborah loved watching cartoons, but it was the movie Shrek – the first really believable, physical, animated world she remembers seeing on screen –  that made her want to be a 3D animator. A field trip to see Gunther von Hagens’s Body Worlds piqued her interest in anatomical modeling, she says, and got her thinking about using technology to understand the body “as a piece of art and machinery.” In college, she surveyed the state of the entertainment industry and chose to follow this interest and pursue a career in scientific, technical, and medical animation. Looking for experience, Deborah applied for an internship in the IRC, and has spent the last year working with Associate Professor of Visual Arts Cathy Cook on her Cranes in Motion project, modeling and animating a crane skeleton to create a short video where a fossilized bird returns to life.

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KAL Wins the Thomas Nast Award!

April 24th, 2014


Political cartoonist and IRC Visiting Artist Kevin “KAL” Kallaugher, is the winner of the 2014 Thomas Nast Award. Presented each year by the Overseas Press Club of America, the Nast Award honors excellence in cartoons on international affairs. You can click here to read more about this year’s 75th-Anniversary OPC awards, and you can click here to find out more about KAL’s current IRC project, USDemocrazy.

Congratulations, KAL!

Meet the IRC: Tenji Tembo

March 6th, 2014


Junior Computer Science major Tenji Tembo has been interning with the IRC for about a month, working in web development for the Baltimore Art+Justice project. “The site was already live when I came on,” he says, “so I’m doing cleanup, optimizing the site, making it faster. I’ve done web development before, but I knew nothing about the site’s structure when I started, so I’m learning a lot by doing it.” Tenji also works on campus in the MAPLE (Multi-Agent Planning and Learning) lab, researching artificial intelligence. When he finishes his degree at UMBC, he’d like to continue in web development, moving into programming and development for mobile applications.

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CIRCA Catalyst at UMBC

February 24th, 2014


CIRCA (Center for Innovation, Research, and Creativity in the Arts) Catalyst is an ongoing series promoting conversations around transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary research that fuses the performing and visual arts with other fields of inquiry and scholarship. Each of the presenting teams this semester have been supported in their research by the IRC:

At noon on Wednesday, February 26th, in Performing Arts and Humanities room 216, UMBC Professor of Music Dr. Linda Dusman and Assistant Professor of Visual Arts Eric Smallwood will present their collaborative research on Symphony Interactive, a table application that re-envisions the traditional concert-going experience. Their presentation will discuss the history of the project, focusing on the unique challenges in regard to the information, graphic, and interactive design of an “unobtrusive” application intended to heighten and enrich the experience of live musical performances.

On Monday, March 8th, at noon, Jan Baum of 3D Maryland and UMBC Associate Professor of Visual Arts Eric Dyer will discuss the transformational work currently taking place with rapid prototyping and 3D printing.

On Monday, April 28, at noon, UMBC Associate Professor of Visual Arts Steve Bradley and Assistant Professor of American Studies Dr. Nicole King will present on their collaborative project, Mapping Baybrook.

And on Thursday, May 8, at 4:30pm, UMBC Associate Professor of Theatre Colette Searls and Lynn Tomlinson of Towson University will speak about virtual puppetry for the stage and screen.

For more information about CIRCA  and the Catalyst series, you can click here to visit the Center’s website.



Meet the IRC: Charles Mason III

February 23rd, 2014


“I want to make change,” says IRC design intern Charles Mason. “I’m an artist. You don’t get to say that a lot as a designer, but I am. And I want to change the world with art.”

In his own design practice, that means experimenting with posters, drawing, photography, typography and text, exploring the intersection of design and social awareness. “I create posters for things that are close to me,” he says. At UMBC, he’s done a series of posters for the Africana Studies department, focusing on civil rights activists who are sometimes overshadowed by more recognized historical figures. “It was a collective effort,” he explains, “I’m concerned that the future may not understand the time and manpower that was involved.” He’s also made a poster series for the Undergraduate Research Award in Education. “I took surveys and interviewed lots of students,” he recalls. “I developed posters based on the five main factors I identified in student success: stereotypes, self-esteem, mental strength, support systems, and peer pressure. I had fun doing it and everybody seemed to love it.”

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Meet the IRC: Ganna Vikhlyayeva

February 23rd, 2014


Senior animation major Ganna Vikhlyayeva loves cartoons. She adores Russian animations, which are “just beautiful,” and Disney animations, which “always tell nice and kind stories.” After a bad day or an unpleasant experience, Ganna watches cartoons to feel better. “It’s like my therapy,” she confesses. ”I want to be an animator,” she says. “I want to make cartoons for children and adults. Adults love cartoons, too.”

Originally from Sevastopol, Ukraine, Ganna came to the United States with her husband when he attended George Mason University as a graduate student in physics. When he went to work for NASA, she found that she was eligible to study at UMBC for free as a member of his family. She has interned with the IRC for about a year, working first in Baltimore schools and, more recently, modeling houses, churches, and other historic structures for the Early Baltimore project.

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Meet the IRC: Christina Jeresano

February 20th, 2014


Christina Jeresano joined the IRC as a student intern in June 2013, and recently signed on as a full-time animator after graduating in December with a BFA in Animation and Interactive Media. She comes from a military family and moved around a lot growing up, but has lived in Baltimore since 2000. “It’s the longest I’ve lived anywhere,” she says with a smile. Christina smiles a lot, and it lights up the space around her, periodically outshining the glow from the double monitors on which she adds surface textures to building after building, filling neighborhoods in the Early Baltimore interactive 3D map.

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What is “Image Research?”

February 18th, 2014

What it’s like to create a few seconds of someone else’s video:

On a recent afternoon, about half an hour before my shift ends, I check in with associate director Lee Boot to see if he needs me to do anything for him before I go home. Lee presents me with a pair of options – I can learn a complex animation process in AfterEffects (a motion graphics program), or shoot some video for him. I would love to dive into AfterEffects, but it seems like a bit of a stretch today, so I opt for the shooting instead. “I need some background footage for a moment in my film when I say ‘We’re creating working media,’” he explains. “I’m thinking a closeup of a pencil writing on paper, maybe words being typed on a computer screen. Grab a camera, grab some lights, whatever you need. Think you can manage?”

“Sure,” I say, and off I go to try and figure out if I can, indeed, manage this.

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