Center Study: Innovating Art Through Technology

Center Study: Innovating Art Through Technology

Author: April Moeller

In summer term 2015, CDTM offered the first ever Center Study elective. Those who are familiar with CDTM’s curriculum know that students are required to take three electives to complement the core courses by offering students the opportunity to deepen their knowledge in an area of their choice. The Center Study is a new elective format that is initiated and organized by highly motivated students who want to research a topic of their interest. The first iteration of this new concept took place this semester with the topic: Innovating Art Through Technology.

During five sessions consisting of workshops and lectures, nine students and one Center Assistant contributed a variety of study backgrounds and worked together through sampling, coding, and hacking to answer the question: How can art bring people together in a big city? Inspired by urban art and powered by technology, they developed an interactive art installation that invites people to collaborate and create art in urban spaces. MusicTwist combines music, visuals, and real-world interaction between people. With MusicTwist, individuals waiting for public transportation can interact with others in a fun and creative way, making their wait time fly by. They simply step into one of eight different fields projected on the floor to play music samples from one of four different instruments and different sound patterns. As more people interact with MusicTwist, the music becomes richer!

The Center Study brought in guest lecturers from around the world to inspire and support the project: Giorgio Corbellini, PhD, from Disney Research Zurich shared some insights from the lastest tech developments at the Disney Research Labs; Jodie Newcombe, PhD, Researcher at the Urban Informatics Lab at the Queensland University of Technology spoke about urbanization and Urban Design. Veronika Gamper, PhD candidate at CDTM gave a workshop on storytelling. Adrian Sennewald, Product Developer at The Walt Disney Company gave insights into combining art and technology and art production. Last but not least, Alexander Wiethoff, PhD, Lecturer at the LMU LFE Media Informatics talked about interactive art installations.

The Center Study was initiated by three students, Brendan Fennessy, Konstantin Lackner, and Juli Sikorska, and supported by Center Assistant Laura Bechthold.

After presenting the results of the Center Study at an Inspire&Dine in May 2015, the group had the opportunity to travel to Zurich to present their results personally to one of their guest lecturers, Giorgio Corbellini, at Disney Research Labs Zurich. Additionally, the students listened to talks by research scientists, Moritz Bächer from the computational material group and Derek Bradley from the capture and effect group.

The computational material group investigates novel algorithms and approaches for acquiring, simulating, and fabricating materials and objects. Their vision is to bridge the gap between the virtual and real world, allowing seamless transitions using novel measurement and rapid prototyping devices. They also focus on the representation and intuitive editing of material properties, allowing for designing and creating custom products for unique customer experiences. The capture and effects group investigates novel approaches to acquiring and representing real world data, and develops algorithms that leverage this data to generate stunning visual effects, specifically for feature films and computer games.

The trip to Zurich also included a visit to the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) to experience and interact with an exhibition of Master projects in Design, Art&Media, Art Education and Scenography, as well as transdisciplinary projects. For example, one project in Industrial Design developed a new type of head fixation for MRI scans to guarantee the immobilization of the head in a comfortable way during the production of the sectional images of the body. Another project focused on deeping communication by publishing a newspaper created by and for elderly residents of Zurich.

After a morning and afternoon packed with interesting presentations and exhibits, the Centerlings had a chance to relax by the lake before beginning the journey back home. Thanks to all the organizers and our hosts at the Disney Research Labs and the ZHdK!

Do you want to learn more about MusicTwist? Please, have a look at the project website:

April studies Neuro-Cognitive Psychology at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and started CDTM in Fall 2014. She is interested in how we affect, and are affected by, technology in our increasingly digital world.