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Past Examples of IRC/CAHSS FRF Awards

(L to R) Mapping Memory, DIY Digital Puppetry Project, and Parisiennes

2019: The Washington DC Black Power Map Derek Musgrove, Associate Professor of History, has already built a web-based version of The Washington D.C. Black Power Map which chronicles the Black Power movement in the nation’ capital between the year 1966, the time the local movement reached critical mass, and 1995, the year of the largest African American mass protest in U.S. history: the Million Man March. The map provides descriptions and pictures of all of the major black power events and organizations in Washington, D.C., and chart their distribution across the cityscape. The IRC is reprogramming and reconceptualizing the map, with an eye towards building narrative pathways or chapters to allow users to connect with a variety of themes.

2018: Narratives of Inequality: Visualizing A Segregated Baltimore, 1930-2018Associate Professors of Geography and Environmental Systems Dina Aufseeser and Dillon Mahmoudi are seeking to map a variety of measures of inequality in Baltimore and visualize the ways they changed over time. While a range of researchers have explored the continued effects of redlining, deindustrialization, uneven urban development, and gentrification, such efforts are scattered and not in conversation with each other. This project specifically seeks to address this gap through the creation of an interactive map of Baltimore depicting spatial inequalities over time. Such a product is especially timely as Baltimore is currently facing a number of crises related to a lack of affordable housing, crumbling infrastructure, increased violence, the opioid epidemic, and struggling public schools. These crises are intertwined with each other and with Baltimore’s history of racial segregation, uneven spending, and selective disinvestment. With the external funding, future iterations of the map will provide a shared platform through which community members, students, scholars and advocacy groups can map additional measures, stories, information, and perspectives that are important to them and their efforts to make Baltimore a more socially just and inclusive city.

2017: Creating a Virtual Experimental Environment to Study Food Choices and Other Behavioral Processes Researchers Dr. Charissa Cheah (Psychology), and Dr. Jiaqi Gong (Information Sciences) worked with IRC artists and computer engineers to create, evaluate, and validate, a virtually-real, college buffet-style cafeteria for observing, understanding, describing, influencing, and even shifting food selection behaviors in students. The goal is to identify underlying coordinates of user behavior in both virtual and physical environments, and quantify the potential differential response between them. The VR environment is precisely modeled after the main cafeteria on the UMBC campus. The team records the behavior of student subjects in both the virtual and actual environments, captured with both point-of-view and third-person (or objective camera) video and motion sensing devices, capture physiological data such as heart rate, heart rate variability, galvanic skin response, and prefrontal cortex activation. Overall this transdisciplinary method constitutes, what to-date is the first study attempting to quantify the differential between real and virtual food selection environments, as reflected in human decision making and underlying physiological and neurocognitive processes.

"Dining at the Virtual Buffet"

2016:Plantelligence and Ecomimesis(Full award). Professor of Visual Arts Lynn Cazabon explores the ways that plants respond to the environment around them, especially in changing urban areas. While most people think of horseweed as a nuisance, or weed, Cazabon is fascinated by its adaptability to the stresses of living in human-created landscapes. Plantelligence began in the photogrammetry rig with scans of growing plants taken every 30 minutes for two months. Because of challenges with both rendering the tremendous amount of data into usable models and the slow growth of the plants, the project evolved. While the scans were helpful when analyzing the overall structure of the plant, additional time-lapses of growing plants were needed to fully reconstruct in 3D the movements and rhythms of the growing plant. The animated model was then integrated into the VR environment and with the addition of some custom software, a viewer can now experience and interact with the plant’s growth in real time. Later versions of the project put the plants into virtual galleries.

Plantelligence & Ecomimesis

2016:Shabamanetica (Partial Award). Shabamanetica stands for Shanghai, Baltimore, Panama, and Kinetic: Eric Dyer's two massive ship's wheel shaped zoetropes. Once they are spun, a strobe light flashes and the wheels' images come to life. One features spinning parasols and Panamanian waterfalls; the other shows Shanghai cargo cyclists and a machine that spits out poop-emoji pillows. Taken together they represent two ports—Baltimore and Shanghai—brought together by the Panama Canal. Dyer wanted Shabamanetica to create a seamless interactive experience for the public. He achieved it first by having individuals spin the wheels to activate the artwork. He also wanted to hide the technology, by putting the strobe light at the edge of the viewer’s peripheral vision and hiding the electronics in the base and behind the wheel. The IRC's faculty research assistant, Mark Murnane, worked with Dyer to build the 400 watt LED strobe light system. The system uses an encoder to measure the speed at which the wheel is spinning and sync the strobe to it. The strobe light must be carefully synchronized with the wheel in order for the images to appear as a smooth animation.

Shabamanetica at Light City

2015: Mapping the Contours of Community (Full award). Professor Kate Brown of the Department of History will be working with the IRC on a pilot project to map the health of those living in the Columbia River Basin and exposed to the Hanford Site’s legacy radioactive and toxic materials.  This pilot will test methods of field collecting anonymous health data and displaying it on interactive maps of the geographic area that are available to both scholars and residents.  The effort will include collecting all data, both positive and adverse, to best present accurate stories.

2015: Urban Forest Stewardship Project (Partial award). Professor Tim Nohe of the Department of Visual Arts  will be collaborating with Matthew Baker of the Department of Geography and Environmental Systems on a planning process to create an online collaborative space compiling and sharing the best practices for urban forest interpretation and care.  The  design will be a citizen-scientist collaboration space that investigates two Baltimore urban forests, offering concrete solutions for the challenges that confront them.

2015: Nonuments Baltimore (Partial award). Lisa Moren, Visual Arts; Dr. Marcus Zupan, Engineering; Neja Tomsic, Museum of Transitory Art (Slovenia).  Nonuments Baltimore is a series of public art interventions that uses digital fabrication technologies in downtown Baltimore. The project includes an interactive website with downloadable open source artworks, and research on the Baltimore communities investigated. At the core  of this project is the use of the latest fabrication technologies to build artworks the way that communities are built – through studying collective phenomena of memory and community behavior.

This project will focus on 2 major areas: 1) how a more detailed understanding of the phenomena of material and process in digital fabrication, and 2) how to observe and engage in the phenomena of communities in order to produce new artworks that build a deeper sense of place in communities locally and globally.

2014: Cranes in Motion (Full award). Professor Cathy Cook (Visual Arts) will continue work on her effort to create a multifaceted, multimedia portrayal of the natural history of the oldest living species of birds. With Phase 1 successfully completed, Professor Cook will develop an interactive application using Kinect software to allow viewers to control an animated crane, dancing with the onscreen bird. A finished multi-media installation of video, photographs, sound recordings, and interactive animations is scheduled for 2015. Ultimately, Professor Cook aspires to create an experience that will help connect humans to cranes at a time when their environments are threatened, creating a greater understanding and empathy for the complex ecological issues surrounding this ancient species.

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2014: Lost Historic Places: Visualizing the Rumney-West Tavern (Partial award). Professor Anne Sarah Rubin (History) of UMBC’s Center for Digital History and Education will work with the IRC, in partnership with Historic London Town, to develop a virtual model of the Rumney-West Tavern, which was a lively and important business in colonial London Town, Maryland. This project will build on archeological work that has been done by Historic London Town and the Anne Arundel County Lost Towns Project, as well as the IRC’s experience with 3D digital historical reconstructions. Professor Rubin intends the model to serve as a proof-of-concept prototype to demonstrate how digital visualization technology can enhance visitor experience and understanding of historic places, leading to expanded partnerships with museums and historic sites.

2013: DIY Digital Puppetry Project (Full award). Professor Colette Searls (Theater). The DIY Digital Puppetry Project aims to build a do-it-yourself computer puppetry program for visual and performing artists using a touch-screen tablet interface. Digital puppetry is among the many hybrid technologies contemporary artists are using to create high-end, quality media art for live performances, videos, and interactive exhibitions. But digital puppetry still requires a great deal of programming expertise – the tools are not yet user friendly. Professor Searls and independent animator Lynn Tomlinson are working with the IRC to develop a program that is both more accessible and aesthetically driven so that artists can use digital puppetry to create imaginative media with ease.

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2013: Mapping Memory:  Sherman’s March and America (Partial award). Professors Anne Sarah Rubin (History) and Kelley Bell (Visual Arts). This website is an extensive exploration of General William Tecumseh Sherman’s infamous March to the Sea. It is a unique amalgamation of traditional academic research and publishing and the emerging field of online media. Using maps as a central graphic motif, the site employs the language of historic cartography to reveal the numerous, and often conflicting, narratives of Sherman’s march through Georgia. Viewers can watch short animations, videos, and slideshows of these stories while following his route from Atlanta to Savannah.

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2012: Zoetrope Tunnel (Full award). Professor Eric Dyer (Visual Arts). The Zoetrope Tunnel is an emotionally and physically engaging way for the public to experience subject, content, and ideas. Instead of learning through text, photos, or video, viewers are bodily immersed in sculpture come to life. They stroll through a rotating tunnel, exploring a vast expanse of animated sequences with hand-held strobe lights, much like a paleontologist investigates a newly discovered cave.

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2012: Parisiennes: Women and the City in French Cinema (Partial award). Professor Nicoleta Bazgan (Modern Language and Linguistics). This unique online mapping experience uses web design, visualization tools, and interactive maps to create a digital atlas illustrating the journeys and places of women in on-screen Paris. It will function as an analytical tool, a product of digital research, and a creative venue, providing an innovative view of Paris through a dialogue between cartography, visual arts, and film studies.

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2011: Mapping Baybrook (Full award). Professors Nicole King (American Studies) and Stephen Bradley (Visual Arts). Mapping Baybrook is a collaborative and interdisciplinary exploration of place that blends digital mapping technologies with research into the history and culture of an industrial neighborhood in South Baltimore. Central to Mapping Baybrook is the establishment of an archive of field recordings, oral history, photographs, demographic research, drawings and audio stories from the harbor community of Baybrook. The IRC has created a sophisticated web-based database for archiving all materials.  Central to its structure is sorting information via location (maps) and time (dates).

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2011: Symphony Interactive (Partial award). Professor Linda Dusman (Music). Developing an iPad app that provides real-time education and enhancements to the live symphony experience.

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