DML Blog

The Fall 2013 DML Salon

posted on 30 Oct 2013 17:35 by Andrew Gardner


Digital interactive from the American Styleshow.

Tuesday, September 16 was the Fall 2013 DML Salon in which BGC faculty and students presented digital projects from the past semester and shared their insights on the use of digital tools both inside and outside the classroom.

A presentation by Associate Curator Ann Tartsinis showing the interactives developed for the her upcoming Focus Gallery exhibition An American Style, which opened September 27 at the BGC Gallery, detailed the process of developing a digital exhibition component when working with an outside developer. The results of the project, which will be displayed on a touchscreen in the gallery and online, raised questions about the importance of the digital in contemporary exhibitions and understanding how digital can augment the material objects in the exhibition.

Prof. Catherine Whalen presented her BGC Oral History Craft, Art and Design Project, which is the culmination of work by students over the course of several years. Students interviewed a number of modern “makers,” from furniture designers and product designers to textile artists and architects, and compiled the written dialogues with visual components. In the time since each interview was recorded, Prof. Whalen and DML Director Prof. Kimon Keramides have worked with an outside team and BGC’s art director to interpret the work of these students and translate it into a website with a scholarly digital archive of influential modern makers.

Of particular note for this first year MA student was the use of SketchUp, a 3D rendering tool that allowed students to mock up their vision for an exhibition in a digital form. Students in Prof. Deborah Krohn and Prof. Ulrich Leben’s class tied to the BGC Gallery’s George Hoentschel show Salvaging the Past were asked to dream up their own exhibition, thinking about the main themes outlined by the show, entitled “Salvaging the Past.”


Kelsey Brow's Google SketchUp Project.

One student, Kelsey Brow, mentioned her initial phobia of the digital space, preferring analog forms, like developing a gallery layout using an old shoebox. But the minute she got started working on her project on a now-destroyed French chateau, working in Sketchup became “a nine-to-five job, as in nine PM to five AM,” she said.

Brow went on to explain the tool’s usefulness outside the classroom. Her internship this past summer called for a digital mock up of a new gallery space. Her previous experience using SketchUp for class allowed her to lay out her ideas for the exhibition so that her boss could see her concept before any objects had been brought in or moved around. The class also taught students the importance of thinking about the physical limitations of some objects in terms of gallery space and the importance of taking detailed notes about an object’s dimensions, as well as important considerations like object availability and insurance.


Danielle Charlap's Prezi exhibition mock-up.

Student’s from Prof. Keramides’ class on Interface Design talked about their own approaches to presenting their exhibition ideas. One student, Zahava Friedman-Stadler, utilized SketchUp and the supplemental 3D Warehouse to digitally render every single object in her exhibition in 3D form. Another, Danielle Charlap, was new to some of the digital tools presented in the class, but chose to render her exhibition about the process of buying books on using Prezi, a web-based presentation and interactive tool. The results of both projects showed the diverse range and possibilities for thinking about these projects and the importance of moving these ideas beyond the paper and into the digital—and finally—the physical space.

Several members of the faculty and students continued to return to questions of digital pedagogy and how digital fluency is a key asset for students working in the real world. No longer are students resigned to thinking about their exhibition in terms of a tiny shoebox or presenting a flat PowerPoint of images and text. As the coursework moves more towards the digitally savvy, tech-friendly space, it becomes imperative for us all to think about new ways of working with our beloved objects.

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Andrew Gardner, 2013-2014 DML Assistant

posted on 23 Oct 2013 17:42 by Andrew Gardner


Watercolor portrait of Andrew by Maya Bradford.

Hi, I’m Andrew! I’m a first year MA student at the Bard Graduate Center. I have been living and working in New York for the last three and a half years, first in art publishing, then in arts and education. In undergrad, I studied journalism and graphic design, so I am coming to the BGC with a different line of inquiry; the way in which I approach an object or a theme is both as a maker and as an investigator. The array of perspectives and varied fields of investigation among students and faculty at the BGC were what drew me to the BGC initially and have allowed me to work through and expand on my own ideas about what an MA in Decorative Arts, Design History and Material Culture means to me. To that end, I am interested in the material culture of social or community-oriented spaces like the restaurant and kitchen and how these places become centers for all sorts of cross-cultural exchange, both in terms of decoration and in terms of dining rituals and customs. What I like most about the BGC is that these ideas are constantly evolving and I am also thinking about the architecture and built environment of cities, particularly of the 19th century, as well as systems and information design, as it applies to both graphic and interface design.

I came to the Digital Media Lab with a solid background using the array of Creative Suite tools (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, etc.) as well as knowledge of HTML and CSS. I figured this was a place where I could use these tools in a practical way and also learn more about audio, video and 3D technologies. What I have discovered is that the DML is a place of (almost) limitless possibilities, where any new technology is considered and explored as not only a mode of pedagogy but also as a practical approach to thinking about and looking at objects. There is so much opportunity here to arm yourself with skills that can then be applied in the real world, from working with collections management-type software to working with web languages, laser scanners and video editing tools. There’s so much to learn from and do here, but I’m most looking forward to working on visuals for gallery shows, website coding and playing with the 3D printer!

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Laura Kelly-Bowditch, 2013-2014 DML Assistant

posted on 22 Oct 2013 17:20 by Laura Kelly-Bowditch

Hello, I’m Laura, a second year MA student. I was attracted to the program offered by the BGC because it brought together my undergrad studies in history and archaeology. Objects, I had learned in school and later at work, tell different stories than texts alone and I was excited to unite all of my experiences and interests at grad school.

I was introduced to the work going on at the DML last year through my participation in a project to scan and create a 3D model of a knight’s armor at the Metropolitan Museum, as well as through using SketchUp in an exhibition design class. Over the summer, I continued my foray into digital media at the Brooklyn Museum’s Digital Lab. It has become increasingly obvious to me through my coursework, as well as on the job, that digital media is becoming essential to the modern scholar of art, history, and museums. I am excited to be in the DML this year expanding my knowledge base of digital humanities in the museum world, 3D technologies, and other digital platforms as they relate to decorative arts, design history, and material culture.

I am particularly eager to work more with 3D technologies. Experimenting with photogrammetry—creating a 3D model out of a series of photos—on the Metropolitan’s knight project was fascinating and opens up a new world of possibilities for the uses of these technologies in museums. At the Brooklyn Museum, the BGC’s gallery, and at other institutions across the city, I have seen digital media in action and I am excited to explore new outlets for their use in cultural institutions.

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