What do you picture when you hear the words “digital future”?
Flying cars and jetpacks? Holograms and super computers? The term is ambiguous, describing impending developments in a field that encompasses many other fields. Technology and all that is digital has seeped into medicine, architecture, manufacturing, entertainment, and education. So, how can you define “digital future” when the term is essentially synonymous with “future” alone? Given the obscure name, what is the Digital Futures program at OCAD? The Digital Futures Open Show exists to answer that question and add clarity to the murky images the mind conjures for “digital future”.
The show is an annual event, exhibiting works by students from the Digital Futures undergraduate and graduate programs, alumni, and faculty. This year, the projects included wearable technology, video games and controllers, data collection and organization, 3D printing, and more. What makes a show like this so exciting is the disparity between projects; no two were alike.
A particularly relevant project in the show was (manufactured)realities by April De Zen, Veda Adnani and Omid Ettehadi. This installation let the viewers connect to a webpage on their phones while a projection cycled through numerous shocking news stories. From their phones, viewers could vote whether they believed or challenged each story. After, the story was revealed to be true or false, and a small box with two dials showed the amount of “believers” versus “challengers”. After all the stories had been read and voted on, the projection showed the overall accuracy of the group: the results were always astounding. A couple of different groups participated throughout the show; the highest accuracy was only 57%. This project exposes the audience to the horrors that riddle the news lately, but it also makes the audience realize how difficult it is to discern truth from fiction. It is quite a moving experience, to confront the fact that upsetting events are so common in the news that, even when fictional, they are easy to believe. It is also a wake-up call to see how many stories seem too outlandish or horrible to be true, and yet they are.
Link to (manufactured)realities: click here
Another unique project was AerForge by Salisa Jatuweerapong, Melissa Roberts, Mahnoor Shahid, and Samantha Sylvester. It was an interactive project in which the visitors could draw into the air with their finger, see on a projection how their movements manipulated a 3D model, and then have that model 3D printed for them as a keychain. This project was built with the Leap Motion controller, writing code that uses the coordinates of the user’s fingers and palms for drawing, movement, clearing, and saving. They also featured live 3D printing, allowing visitors to watch as their models are printed and take their custom keychain home with them.
Link to AerForge: click here
Representing wearable technology and gaming, Naruto Gloves by Salisa Jatuweerapong, Brian Nguyen, and Madelaine Fischer-Bernhut was quite exciting. The artists designed gloves, forearm guards, and a foot-mat that can be used in place of controllers for games in the Naruto franchise. Attacks in the game occur through gestures, and the gloves allow the player to perform those gestures rather than pressing buttons on a controller. Using conductive fabric and Arduino, this project combines the cosplay experience with game-themed wearable technology with a more interactive video game experience.
Link to Naruto Gloves: click here
A notion that may be becoming more obvious after reading this article is that Digital Futures explores what it means to have a future that is digital. Not only that, but what does it look like? What can it do? How will the things we know evolve? The implications of a digital future may be daunting, but the more we learn through doing projects just like these, the more we are equipped to understand our future society and our place within it.
The above-mentioned projects are only a few of the creations exhibited at the Digital Futures Open Show; be sure to check out more amazing projects from Digital Futures students and faculty at next year’s show! To learn more about the Digital Futures programs offered at OCAD, or the artists mentioned above, visit the links below.
General program links:
Article by Melissa Roberts