This document and accompanying digital portfolio showcase project outcomes and provide examples of media I produced and directed between November 2020 and the present day.
In my previous portfolio, I discussed my initial three years as a faculty member in the Department of Modern Languages at the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. During that time, I focused on establishing the Askwith Kenner Global Languages & Cultures Room (GLCR), a dedicated space in the Tepper Building for exploring language and culture through immersive technologies. I have worked on refining the room’s mission to support teaching, research, and community engagement. Collaborating with colleagues, I have undertaken various projects, including media creation, technology-enhanced learning workshops, development of new courses, and organizing events to showcase our work and invite participation from the wider campus community.
The Global Languages & Cultures Room
During the pandemic, the Global Languages & Cultures Room experienced a closure, causing a significant slowdown in the momentum gained during its first three years. While initiatives, such as artists’ micro-commissions for digital signage imagery continued, travel and creative projects were suspended. In the past two years, however, the room has reopened, resumed activities, restarted existing projects, and launched new ones.
The room’s role in supporting Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL) in Modern Languages and Dietrich College remains central. It forms a triangle with the MLRC (Modern Languages Resource Center) and the outstanding work of the new Associate Director of Online Language Learning to develop online courses. While I continue to provide technology consultation, the emphasis has shifted toward producing creative outcomes. These initiatives have been supported by the generous and recently established Immersive Cultural Innovation (ICI) Fund, which I have worked with colleagues in university advancement, Modern Languages, and the School of Art to secure by developing a convincing prospectus. This fund enables us to support new creative experiences related to language and culture, including assistance for films, immersive virtual reality projects, events, and guest speakers. With the fund, I am able to use the affordances of the room more fully to promote collaboration across disciplines. Indeed, the ICI Fund supports new initiatives and projects, fostering collaborations between Modern Languages, the School of Art, and other partners. Successful collaborations include a jointly-taught course on Chinese Mythologies and Animation (co-taught by Professors Johannes DeYoung, School of Art, and Gang Liu, Modern Languages) and a triptych media piece called Chinese/American. The latter explores cultural differences between Chinese International and Chinese American students through interviews and images from China and the US. Additionally, the ICI fund facilitated a workshop on Storytelling with Light and Shadow by Chicago’s Manual Cinema, creating short performance pieces by students, which were screened in the Global Languages & Cultures Room.
Indeed, the ICI Fund supports new initiatives and projects, fostering collaborations between Modern Languages, the School of Art, and other partners. Successful collaborations include a jointly-taught course on Chinese Mythologies and Animation (co-taught by Professors Johannes DeYoung, School of Art, and Gang Liu, Modern Languages) and a triptych media piece called Chinese/American. The latter explores cultural differences between Chinese International and Chinese American students through interviews and images from China and the US. Additionally, the ICI fund facilitated a workshop on Storytelling with Light and Shadow by Chicago’s Manual Cinema, creating short performance pieces by students, which were screened in the Global Languages & Cultures Room.
The ICI Fund currently supports two new projects: Abigail, a project inspired by Professor Mame-Fatou Niang‘s collaboration with New York Times journalist Martha Jones, creates an experience centered around Abigail, an enslaved person who escaped in 1779 during a visit to Paris. Originally published in the New York Times, the story will be portrayed through site-specific pieces in Paris, (re)tracing Abigail’s potential locations.
Back to Where I Come From is a project originating from the Digital Realities: Introduction to Immersive Technologies for Arts and Cultures course. This virtual reality piece explores the experience of returning home from the perspective of an immigrant family. Currently, four students collaborate on the project, dividing tasks such as writing, 3D modeling, assemblage, and final production. Development continues throughout the summer, with plans to showcase the piece at festivals such as Tribeca and SXSW, upon completion, projected for Fall 2023.The Global Languages & Cultures Room continues to host events, such as the recent Colombian Comics Symposium in April 2023 and a lecture on Japanese-to-English translation proposed by the Japan-America Society of Pennsylvania in May 2023. This year we have held open-house days; invited students to launch events for new experiences; and celebrated Heritage Days and Identity Recognitions. We have a mailing list of some 350 people, and average yearly attendance of around 600, including students, event attendees, guests, and visitors, according to event registrations, and data collected on-site. We are currently working on developing a program of talks and screenings for Fall 2023, where we hope to capitalize on the success of previous programs, expand our audience and provide value
The room aims to become a leading center for curating immersive works and a space for exploring language and culture through multimedia experiences and media creation. Collaborations with CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) continue, introducing new content to guests and visitors. Notably, I commissioned the 2023 installation Intertwined, which explores safe spaces and reflection within a specific location. There is immense potential for future achievements and growth, such as providing an exhibition space, where art and technology meet, and where digital humanities, led by Modern Languages, can flourish. As the reputation of the room continues to grow, and with it a real potential to attract new sources of funding, the opportunity to invite creators, experts, and scholars, from both Pittsburgh and the wider community. This, in turn, would mean new fellowships, research grants, residencies, and guest speakers, all contributing to the creation and generation of work in language, culture, and humanistic storytelling.