Eliseo Ortiz Guest Lectures for the Hostile Terrain 94 Workshop
By: Jessica Fernandez
Scholar and activist Eliseo Ortiz recently participated as a guest lecturer in Hostile Terrain 94, a participatory art project and exhibition aimed at raising awareness about the human cost of policies that restrict immigration and movement across borders. Initiated by the Undocumented Migration Project and organized by over 150 collaborators worldwide, the exhibition features a wall map of North America marked with over 3,000 handwritten tags representing migrants who have died while crossing the US-Mexico border in the last two decades. This interactive memorial encourages visitors to engage with the data and stories behind each tag.
During his guest lecture, Ortiz provided a unique perspective on the challenges and complexities surrounding migration policies he emphasizes “The work is intended to bring awareness about the state of dehumanizing people.” In addition to this, he highlighted the importance of creating a dialogue and inspiring change in policies that directly affect the lives and safety of migrants. Ortiz’s lecture added a valuable dimension to the discussion, emphasizing the human impact of policies that restrict immigration and movement across borders.
It is important to note that Hostile Terrain 94 is not just an art project, but a call to action. The project seeks to raise awareness, foster critical thinking, and encourage us to rethink our values and priorities as a society. It urges us to work towards a more just and humane world where the safety and well-being of migrants are protected.
Overall, the Hostile Terrain 94 project serves as an important reminder of the ongoing struggles and tragedies faced by migrants. It is an urgent call to action to create a more compassionate and just society that values the lives and dignity of all individuals, regardless of their place of birth or immigration status.
Annually, the Department of Digital Technology and Culture presents an award to an exceptional graduating senior who embodies the values and ideals of the DTC department. The 2022 outstanding senior of this prestigious award is Eman Ahmed.
Eman graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Digital Technology & Culture, along with a second major in Humanities with concentrations in Women, Gender, and Sexual Studies; Comparative Ethnic Studies; and Sociology. Initially, Eman had aspirations to become a lawyer and attend law school. However, as time went by, she came to understand that this path could limit her creativity. During her junior year, she realized that digital multimedia production offered a way for her to accomplish her goals toward social justice and make an impact, using her creative skills and that’s when she made the switch to pursue a degree in DTC.
Throughout Eman’s time at Washington State University, she was actively engaged in a variety of clubs and activities on campus. Eman was an Undergraduate Learning Assistant for DTC 101, Video Director for WSU Luxe Fashion Magazine, Digital Archivist for WSU Libraries Kimble Digitization Center, and the Lead Social Justice Peer Educator for the WSU Office of Outreach and Education. Eman also expressed that one of the most memorable courses that encouraged her to tap into her creative side was DTC 491: Advanced Digital Cinema. To this day, she fondly recalls creating a short performative documentary for their class final and cherishes the experiences and connections she made through collaboration with others.
Currently, Eman is working at WSU Global Campus working as a Program Coordinator for Global Connections, where she brings together students from the Global Campus through live-streaming in-person events to make them accessible to online students and facilitating virtual extracurricular events. Recently, she initiated a student recognition series called “Student Spotlight” which features a Global Campus student’s accomplishment each week. Additionally, Eman also makes time for her creative pursuits, such as filmmaking. At the moment, she is lending her videography skills to a friend’s musical production. She has maintained close relationships with peers from the DTC department and is collaborating with them on this project. Eman cherishes her time at WSU and holds the memories she created with her colleagues in the DTC department close to her heart.
Galina Wynkoop collaborated with her friend, Anna Gerald, to write a children’s book called, Maggie Grace Learns About Magnesium. This book was independently published on October 6, 2019, and is now available for order on Amazon Prime. Wynkoop is a student at Washington State University majoring in Digital Technology and Culture, and her goal in writing is to educate children on the basics of the chemistry world.
With Wynkoop’s vivid illustration skills and Gerald’s love for writing, they came together as a dynamic duo to bring Maggie Grace to life. The idea stemmed from Gerald’s chemistry class, specifically a project she did on Magnesium, and Wynkoop brought light to this story through her brilliant drawings.
In this children’s book, a 7-year-old named Maggie Grace is introduced and discovers magnesium through a leg cramp she experiences. Wynkoop visually illustrates this story as Maggie gains an understanding of the scientific principles of magnesium. This children’s book represents a heartwarming relationship between a mother and her daughter. It is an entertaining and educational book that helps kids better understand the periodic table along with real-world uses for elements. All profits from Maggie Grace Learns About Magnesium will go towards helping both Wynkoop and Gerald continue their educational paths.
A select group of senior and junior-level DTC majors were invited to take up a new professional development opportunity visiting design firms in Portland, Oregon. Aida Must, Eman Ahmed, Austin Wetzel, Lain Bundalian, and Mariah Johnson took a trip from November 2nd – November 4th to learn more about these creative professional firms.
Professors June Sanders & Jacob Riddle accompanied these students and provided tours with multiple design, game, and animation firms. Some of the firms visited were Fisk Projects, Dotdotdash, and Outlet PDX. This was a wonderful opportunity to grow with peers personally and professionally. The trip began with a visit to the Vancouver campus where the DTC students were able to witness the DTC program in effect as students worked together on an archival project for their senior seminar.
Austin, a student who went on this trip provided additional details on his experience at each location they visited as a group. He says that Fisk was the one that he was not only most excited about but impressed by as well. Austin mentions the design studio and how he took note of the compassionate teamwork to create marketing, he found it to be truly inspiring and innovative. The founder and CEO of Fisk, Bijan Berahimi took the time to speak with the students and shared how he started his practice of content creation using his undergrad. Berahimi continued to maintain relationships with his contemporaries that went on to become team members in the business now.
The second location that was visited was Outlet PDX, this was a more intimate experience where students got the opportunity to meet with the sole paid employee at the studio. At Outlet PDXthere was a massive range of voices, inspiration, and work as working artists and members of the community collaborated in the riso print-making studio.
Lastly, this group of DTC students visited Dotdotdash. This firm creates digital and physical interactive installments for many famous and financially successful companies.
Their work as designers was leveraged alongside physical and digital creation specialists to obtain final products that are featured in expos and conferences. The fluctuation of project type and scale was astounding for everyone to see.
As the days winded down, they would spend their evenings as a group consuming all the great meals provided, and taking multiple trips to get boba tea. Through this professional opportunity to go to Portland, Oregon for the weekend, students were able to connect with their peers, grow professionally, and get to know what each creative professional firm was all about.
A team of Washington State University students is developing an app that’ll help connect members of the Pullman community with local businesses.
The app – Local Cougs – will allow users to learn more about the businesses around them and ideally generate a vital wave of support coming off of two years of struggling through the pandemic. Local Cougs is currently in the prototype stage, with plans for beta testing this summer.
The five-student team is led by Marley Schneider, a web development and advertising senior, and Jennifer Espin, who is majoring in civil engineering with a minor in mathematics. Three other students – Daniel Chia, Stephany Lamas, and Roshani Shiwakoti – assist with the coding and development of the app.
The idea of finding a way to better connect the Pullman community – particularly students – to local businesses was pitched to Schneider and Espin by Ray Combs, director of entrepreneurial studies at Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture’s Harold Frank Engineering Entrepreneurship Institute. Combs told the pair that Elizabeth Chilton, who’d recently started her tenure as provost and executive vice president, was particularly interested in finding a way to help local businesses emerging from the pandemic.
“The biggest barrier we’ve identified is people not being knowledgeable about what businesses have to offer,” Schneider said.
Whether it’s finding a place to get a tire patched or a cup of coffee, the Local Cougs team is determined to get local businesses front and center in the minds of students and Pullman community members. The project is also a valuable learning opportunity for the team that’s bound for the workplace in the years to come.
“I was really excited for the opportunity to learn more about the business and marketing aspect of engineering,” Espin said. “That’s really where the entrepreneurship center came in and presented this opportunity to talk with local businesses and get better connected with people in the industry.”
In the past year and a half, Schneider and Espin have met with local business owners and advocates to get a sense of their situations and what they can do to help them thrive. Conversations with students have also netted valuable insight into the perceived barriers between them and the businesses right on their doorstep.
“We identified a lack of enthusiasm among students for going downtown, so we’re looking to create an incentive within the app that rewards people who use the app at downtown businesses,” Schneider said, citing examples like a free smoothie at Sanctuary after attending two yoga sessions.
While Schneider is on track to graduate in May, she plans to continue to be involved with frequent visits and remote collaboration with the team.
“Because we have a big cohort, we’ve been thinking about bringing more people onto the team, to be able to get as many hands working on the prototype as possible,” Espin said. “We need to grow to get this project out, and we’ve been fortunate to have great advisors helping us out.
Combs has been particularly impressed in the team’s efforts to understand the problem that the app aims to solve – local businesses’ lack of marketing horsepower compared to larger chains.
“They’ve done good boots on the ground research, talking to local business owners and commerce people to understand what business need for this app,” Combs said. “It’s really encouraging that they’ve done this kind of work, because it’s the kind of effort that engineering teams fail at – understanding the problem their technology aims to solve.”
In addition to preparing the app for beta testing in the months to come, members are also gearing up for the university’s annual business plan competition later this semester.
During the final week of February, DTC senior and WSU basketball player Johanna Teder received the Pac-12 Player of the Week award. Johanna was excited to receive this award, stating that “there are so many good athletes and players at our conference” and that she did not expect to receive this award at all. She won the award for most outstanding statistics in two days in a single week when she averaged 20.5 points a game.
For Johanna, basketball has taught her a lot about discipline and time management. She says that it isn’t easy to be a student when practices and games take a lot of energy out of her, but she wants to do good in school in addition to athletics. There are a lot of other things that basketball gives to Johanna as well, including; good friends, travelling, opportunities for education, and memories.
As a Digital Technology and Culture student, Johanna is currently trying to learn and get better. She chose DTC due to her interest in art and want to try something new. “I feel like DTC was a good choice and I am really excited to see where it takes me. As a student-athlete, sports take most of the time of my day, but I am willing to get better in things as well,” says Johanna.
Humanities on the Palouse Participates in
National Day of Service
By: Esmeralda Solis Garcia
Inequity is something that is present in many different communities. However, with the help of the newly founded Humanities on the Palouse (HOP) program, WSU students can help these marginalized groups and build their humanities and art-based skills while participating in compensated internships.
The primary mission of HOP is to place WSU humanities and arts students in compensated internship opportunities at organizations in the Palouse area that surrounds Washington State University. Compensation for participation in HOP is provided in the form of an educational stipend administered at the end of service by AmeriCorps. The HOP internships are focused on exploring the link between skills developed in Humanities and Arts coursework and the professions. Skills like critical and creative thinking, adaptation, information literacy, social responsibility, working with diverse groups, empathy, writing, public speaking, translation, textual analysis, teamwork, and leadership. A secondary goal is to address inequity in compensated internship opportunity for women, students of color, queer students, and other marginalized populations.
HOP founder and faculty leader Ruth Gregory states “I read several reports that noted that uncompensated internships did not help a student place into the professions at nearly the same rate at those who did a compensated internship during their time in college. I wanted to address that inequity since service-learning is a major part of the Department of Digital Technology and Culture.”
In addition to their service at regional sites, AmeriCorps members also come together to do group service projects. On January 17, 2022, the Humanities on the Palouse group and advisor Ruth Gregory came together to serve at the Inland OasisWest Side Food Pantry on the National Day of Service to honor the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. During their time there, the HOP Members got an orientation to the food-pantry, helped paint the walls for the drop-in center, and got some time to talk with members of Inland Oasis about their programs. HOP members also brainstormed with the Inland Oasis about future projects and events for the communities in the Palouse. Also, on hand were additional student volunteers from the WSU Center of Civic Engagement. Together the students and Inland Oasis volunteers put several coats of primer and paint on the walls of the drop-in center.
HOP Member and Inland Oasis Drop-In Center Coordinator Nick Kawaguchi states, “I never noticed that MLK Jr. Day was a service day. I always thought of it as just a day off from school.”
Teamwork, organization, and communication between each member of the HOP team made this day an amazing experience and surely put each student’s skills to work.
More information about the Humanities on the Palouse Program is on their webpage.
“You can work within the realm of real life while still having fantastical narratives and fantastical stories,” she said.
Each student selected their own topic within the theme of identity/identity creation and produced a professional-quality audio narrative using technology in the DTC media laboratory. Sanders, who is an experienced radio producer, combined the individual stories into a seven-part show they called “Underpinnings” as a synonym for foundation.
“We were thinking of solid foundations of identity, foundations of our community, what holds us up, what creates us and what affects how we move through the world,” Sanders said.
Through interviews with friends, family, classmates and strangers, the students examined topics ranging from the hidden struggles even outwardly successful people face to a dad’s philosophy about drinking beer.
In student Jayce Carral’s story, a woman talks about the beginning and end of a years-long friendship with a ghost. Senior Willow Yaple’s story focuses on an interview with her twin sister to explore changes in their identity relationship since they started college.
For her story, psychology senior Clara Peninger asked random passersby how they would counsel their younger selves and recorded some unexpected—and useful—responses.
“A lot of the advice received was something I could apply to my own life, which was definitely a pleasant surprise,” Peninger said.
Leigh Robartes, station manager at KRFP, welcomed the chance to broadcast the students’ work for the Moscow, Idaho–Pullman community and hopes to have similar opportunities in the future.
“It’s rare that we get to air such a densely produced local production,” Robartes said. “It flowed in the podcast-style of storytelling that’s popular these days. For local, volunteer-driven community radio, it’s one of the ideal types of local programming.”
Among Sanders’ goals for the project was providing her students with professional experience and insights about the role of community media and other forms of broadcast and production, including online platforms, that operate outside of giant media conglomerates and corporations.
“It was also intended to encourage thinking about the broader implications of whose story is being told and why—in everything from documentaries to radio stories, video games and TV shows—and understanding how to be contemporary, fresh, critical and poignant when it comes to telling those stories,” she said.
“We live in a pretty saturated media landscape where everyone has a platform and everyone broadcasts their own image most of the time. ‘Underpinnings’ allowed the students to use their skills and abilities and their own life experiences to highlight other people’s stories and lift up other voices—a very useful and important skill to have.”
Yaple, an advertising major minoring in DTC, said the project experience will be useful in her future career.
“Of course, there are the objective skills I gained, such as familiarity with audio editing and interviewing. However, I was also able to develop my narrative-building skills more, which is very appropriate for any creative field I go into. I am currently working toward a career in advertising and graphic design, and both rely on creating stories that audiences will be interested in.”
Jacob started out with an anecdote about how he began to think about photos as information around 2010 or 2011, and made a hexadecimal file called .jpeg. This inspired him to start messing with what we do to photos such as jpegs and do it to a physical object, so he ran his file through a paper shredder. Jacob stated that this was still visual. He removed his JPEG from the code even further and ran it through text to speech software and created JPEG.mp3. At the time, text to speech was not as amazing as it is today, so it sounded a little odd. Afterwards, Jacob ran his file through a printer, which took three days.
Later on in 2012, Jacob started also thinking about Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) as a space that can explore photography. He started to reject traditional photography methods. He instead began to think about ways you can interact with User Interfaces (UI). He created screenshots and animated GIFS, including a program that watched da window just get stuck. He then dove into some video work, still dealing with UI, and created a buffer video to show how our constant connectedness has conditioned us to expect things. For example, the spinning wheel means “we wait” even though there is nothing to wait for.
While he was working on his Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) during the years 2014-2016, Jacob had also started learning 3D modelling. As time went on, Jacob also started thinking about software as a studio space and dove head in. He began to realize that there were similarities between the 3D modelling workspace and a photography studio. For example, in the 3D modelling workspace, there are lights, focus controls, moving cameras, and so on, such as in life. He created still life images. When people would ask if they were real, he would think “dreams are real, hallucinations are real,” as a rebuttal to the question. This is to prompt the realization that they are asking the wrong question. According to Jacob: “Real brings a value connotation with it that does not need to be there.”
Around 2017 or 2018, Jacob also bought a piece of purple drywall and tilted it in a way he could cut a hole inside that was still level, and could fit a painting inside. When you looked at it straight-on, you would realize what you thought was an object was an image after all. However, all of this felt too rigid and structured after a while, so Jacob wanted a change. Drones were being tested in his yard often, he would watch them in the sky with his camera and noticed the trees move. Inspired to simulate fluid motion and with a background dabbling in VR for a few years at this point, he had come across VR sculpting tools. These, he explained, were like spray-painting in a 3D space. He created gestural marks in this 3D space, recorded video for the background with drones, and also placed pillars in the foreground of his simulation. Afterwards, Jacob suspended a TV screen in a gallery from the ceiling so people could lay underneath it to watch it. However, due to this format, a lot of people did not view his work, he reflects.
A separate work of art Jacob also created more recently (starting from late 2019 and is ongoing) was related to Disruptive Pattern Material; also known as camouflage. After researching the history of camouflage and becoming fascinated over its nature-imitating properties, Jacob fed a selection of camouflage from various places and time-points in history to an Artificial Intellegence (AI) program. This AI program; a GAN could be trained to learn the similarities between a group of images it is fed, and generate images it thinks it fits into that group. It also learns to select other images that it thinks belong in the same group. Using this, Jacob created a variety of camouflage patterns.
After researching more into generative design and playing around with that, Jacob found out about something called topology optimization (often wrongly referred to as generative design). Simultaneously learning about mushrooms and the complex connections between trees and mushrooms, he realized they felt networked like the internet. He started foraging for mushrooms and scanning them in 3D. Recently, he created a Snapchat filter that shows you various 3D scanned mushrooms in the space you are in. This is animated and cycles through various mushrooms. Jacob ended his talk by showing the crowd how to use his snapchat filter.
Previously, Zahra had worked at the Museum of Art as a marketing intern in 2017. When Zahra had a clearer idea of what she wanted to do after graduation, she reached out to the museum to work with them again. After a few interviews, Zahra was offered the position of Museum Assistant. She also enrolled in Fine Arts 490: Gallery Procedures with the Museum of Art, which is part of her Exhibition Studies minor and has enhanced her experience at the museum. Sabrina got her internship through the museum’s Educational Coordinator and former DTC Faculty Member, Kristen Becker.
Zahra’s responsibilities at the Museum of Art include: creating different types of media such as taking photos, videos, and posting on social media. Other duties include welcoming visitors into the museum and participating in ongoing events. Sabrina is in charge of capturing videos of public events taking place at the museum, and any video editing that the museum may need.
Sabrina’s favorite aspects about working for the Museum of Art are getting to experience the public and private events. Zahra likes being surrounded by so much creativity, as it keeps her and others inspired. Connecting with the community and allowing students learning opportunities is also something Zahra enjoys about working at the museum. Recently, Zahra and Sabrina were given the opportunity to record footage of the visiting artists from the Black Lives Matter Artist Grant Exhibit. “It was so nice meeting and talking to them and hearing their thoughts on their artwork! I also love working with the staff at the museum, they are all so nice and friendly,” says Sabrina.
This internship is helping Zahra and Sabrina build up not only their resumes, but also their portfolios. According to Sabrina, the internship has helped her gain experience working with cameras as she produces videos for the museum. She also has had the opportunity to further strengthen and improve her skills in Adobe Premiere Pro.
After graduating, Zahra is planning to work in the creative side of marketing, mainly for museums. Majoring in DTC with a minor in Exhibition Studies through the Department of Fine Arts will enable her to use all of the skills that she is learning in her future career. Sabrina is unsure of exactly what she wants to do, but she wouldn’t mind a career in the museum industry if the opportunity presented itself.