2023 P&T Document

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. 

Introduction

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, 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.

Students in 82.850 Multicultural Pittsburgh build Google Cardboard VR headsets.

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. However, in the past two years, the room has reopened, resumed activities, and relaunched projects.

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 towards producing creative outcomes, supported by the recently established the Immersive Cultural Innovation Fund, generously donated to the initiative. I worked with colleagues in university advancement, Modern Languages, and the School of Art to develop the prospectus and secure the fund, which enables us to support new creative experiences related to language and culture, including funding for films, immersive virtual reality projects, events, and guest speakers. With the fund, I am able to use the affordances of the room to promote collaboration across disciplines, resulting in co-taught courses like the Chinese Mythologies and Animation Course, taught by Professors Johannes DeYoung (School of Art) and Gang Liu (Modern Languages.  

The Immersive Cultural Innovation (ICI) Fund supports new initiatives and projects, fostering collaborations between Modern Languages, the School of Art, and other partners. Successful collaborations include a joint-taught course on Chinese Mythologies and Animation 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 fund facilitated a workshop on Storytelling with Light and Shadow by Chicago‚Äôs 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 is inspired by Professor Mame-Fatou Niang‘s collaboration with New York Times journalist Martha Jones, this project 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, 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 and conferences upon completion.

The Global Languages & Cultures Room continues to host events, such as the recent Colombian Comics Symposium and a lecture on Japanese to English translation proposed by the Japan-America Society of Pennsylvania. This year we have held open-house days, invited students to launch events for new experiences, and celebrated Heritage Days and Identity Recognitions. We are currently working on developing a program of talks and screenings for Fall 2023. 

Attendees gather and share in conversation, showing images, reading comics and drinking coffee
100 Years of Colombian Comics Event in the Askwith Kenner Global Langauges & Cultures Room

The room aims to become a leading center for curating immersive works and a space for exploring language and culture through media creation. Collaborations with the ETC Entertainment Technology Center 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 grows, and as it attracts new sources of funding, the opportunity to invite creators, experts and scholars, from both Pittsburgh and the wider community, would mean new fellowships, research grants, residencies and guest speakers, all contributing to the creation and generation of work in language, culture and humanist storytelling.