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Design media arts students put on rule-bending exhibit with mixed art forms

Second-year Amy Fang and fourth-year Chris Kim, both design media arts students, co-lead curated the “Breaking the Rules” exhibition, which will show in the New Wight Gallery in the Broad Art Center beginning Thursday. (Niveda Tennety/Daily Bruin)

"Breaking the Rules"

Jan. 17 - Feb. 1

New Wight Gallery


By Umber Bhatti

Jan. 17, 2019 10:14 a.m.

A flyer encrypted with a Snapchat code can unlock dancing bears on your phone’s screen. Using augmented reality, the project is one of the works that will be on display at the design media arts exhibition opening Thursday.

The exhibition, titled “Breaking the Rules,” will showcase works from undergraduates in the design media arts program and consists of over 50 student projects. The exhibition will run through Feb. 1 in the New Wight Gallery in the Broad Art Center. This year’s theme, “Breaking the Rules,” is focused on work that transcends boundaries and limitations. Amy Fang, a second-year design media arts student and co-lead curator of the exhibition said the event pushed artists outside of their comfort zone by integrating new art forms.

“Design media arts as a major inherently is breaking a lot of rules. We do a lot of merging the digital with the physical and merging boundaries between design and art, which is sometimes seen as a distinct field,” Fang said. “There’s always these implicit unstated rules within each medium and we wanted people to step further beyond that.”

One boundary being stretched through the exhibition, for example, is that this year some of the pieces incorporated architectural models, Fang said, which is something normally done in the School of Arts and Architecture. However, she said design media arts has always been open to merging boundaries as the department’s philosophy is to synthesize and hybridize discourses and practices.

Professor Willem Henri Lucas, the undergraduate supervisor for the design media arts program, said in previous years the annual exhibition was more faculty-driven and showcased the curriculum of the program. Now, the art show is mostly student-run. He said students from all years came together and decided on a theme and name for the show. Everyone in the major was welcome to submit their work for a chance to be displayed, and over 80 submissions were received.

A key concept of the works on display at the exhibit is the amalgamation between art and technology, said Darin Buzon, a fourth-year design media art student and a presenting artist at the exhibit. He routinely incorporates technology into his projects whether it be through coding or web development. For his work in the exhibition, he is using Processing, a programming language developed by faculty in the department. This will allow his artwork to be interactive by using motion detectors to project the spectators’ silhouette onto his work. When creating projects, Buzon said he uses his art as a medium for people to reflect on themselves.

Lisa Chen, a fourth-year design media arts student presenting her work in the exhibit, also said art can reflect how people see the world and view themselves. But unlike Buzon, Chen will only utilize one piece of machinery for her display: a sewing machine. Using two sawhorses and one piece of plywood, Chen will construct a table that is typically used for sawing wood. Instead, however, she’ll be sewing dresses, using a pink fabric she said felt just right for the exhibit. Wearing a plain olive jumpsuit, Chen will sew live at the exhibition. Each day, she will hang up the new dresses and her project will constantly grow. She said the idea for this project came to her after she went to The Home Depot to buy plywood and the employees did not take her seriously. Through this work, she said she is exploring the idea of bringing constructed feminine concepts, such as the pink fabric and sewing, into a space thought to be masculine.

I had to learn what art was for me, and how it helped me understand the world. In some ways, it’s almost like therapy and it’s not just therapy for yourself, but it’s therapy for your community and your friends and peers,” Chen said. “What I’ve been trying to do with my work is explore ideas that I’m still trying to figure out and put them out there by opening up a dialogue and conversation with one another.”

Covering the plain white walls in the New Wight Gallery are colorful, innovative and diverse projects that venture outside the traditional arts and represent the different skill sets of the students, Fang said. Not only has this exhibit become an annual celebration within the department, Lucas said, but it also allows the department to invite industry professionals to attend the exhibit. This provides students with an avenue to meet with companies of interests. Chris Kim, co-lead curator and a fourth-year design media arts student, also said the showcase is an exciting time where, despite the multiplicity that is inherent in the discipline, the department gets to come together as one.

“Being different is great because each individual person is really unique. And if we have all these unique people in one room, the show becomes like a body,” he said. “The exhibition itself seems like a whole with all of these collections of different artists and their different mindsets.”

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Umber Bhatti
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