Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Unleashed Creativity: The Digital Society School’s showcase

‘Unleashed Creativity’
The Digital Society School’s 2019 showcase was a show stopper! Fortunately, you’ve got all week to immerse yourself
On a sunny afternoon, along the windy Wibaustraat (home to the HvA Digital Media and Creative Industries), the doors to the Kohnstammhuis were thrown open to visitors: students and parents, staff and managers, and intrigued passerbys, were welcomed and ushered in by an extraordinary board spinning  student on the top steps.  Akin to a pizza thrower - which he assured me he was - his rotating red board spun OUTBURST. This was a suitable start to the experience that what was to follow: a student-centered, lively and fun, interactive showcase of the accomplishments and achievements of the 2019 Digital Society School student cohort. 
Digital Transformation Designers
The self-titled intrepid digital explorers were introduced by their new Dean of Faculty, Frank Kresin.  He gave an enthusiastic speech celebrating achievements while paying homage to all those involved in creating such an event as well as the work that has gone on all year to reach this grande finale.  What was stressed more than ever was the important of collaboration internally, between staff and students, but also externally, with parents, partnerships and businesses: “behind every students are several teachers, lecturers and mentors” and he did not want us to forget that. One of the lead course coordinators humbly described how his students were their “best asset” and suitably invited them to “tell our story”. 
Being a digital media event you’d expect nothing less than a full auditory, visual experience and we were not disappointed.  The show opened with two skilled drummers performing over a loud techno beat. Stepping onto the stage - a purpose built white cat walk reaching from one end of the hall to the other and which was lit up with bright images and color - they entertained and lifted the rhythm of the place. Draped either side, in the windows and between the balustrades, were  curtains continuously lit up with changing projections.  Later these same areas were used to show videos, audio clips and to display the names of students and project titles.  It was an ingenious piece of creative Media in action.  Throughout the whole event, the staff and student alike were happy to let their hard work do the talking.
Quite literally,  this happened when they wheeled (or rather led  but the ‘hand’) onto center stage ‘Meray’.  ‘She’ proudly and confidently - if we can attribute these personalities to a robot - presented herself to the stunned audience. Cracking jokes, in Dutch, and mocking the basic computers before her, using hand gestures and sort of ‘facial expressions’ it felt like glimpse of the future. 
 It was equally impressive and terrifying.  
To conclude the catwalk, a flamenco dancer impressively swirled and spun her way around in an eye catching red, yellow  and pink dress as part of a virtual reality project.
There was a strong message: that the human centered interaction with technological and digital developments was key.  To avoid the “dark future of cyber punk” or to counter act the fearful future of a compute takeover, course leaders and lecturers emphasized that students involved in this kind of learning were trailblazers at looking for solutions, rather than adding to the problems we are all too familiar with (climate change, energy, over consumption, mental and physical health,  and much more). This is clearly reflected in the outcomes of student ambition and vision.  
Their projects, which are on show all week, include: a ‘My Happy’ app, an app to encourage healthy living in kids, Xbox games like ‘Snail trail’ or others designed to support those with slower mobility or learning difficulties and ‘Terra’: a sci-fi planet building game designed to support brain damage recovery  patients.  You can have a chat with the robot or even take an immersive virtual reality parachute jump, called ‘Ramsey’.
Without the external support, Frank Kresin reminded us in his opening stint, students would not be able to gain valuable real life work experience, research or gain insight into innovations.  Because of these connections, students seems to  be on point with their foci and what drives them.  Thanks to the “internships, ‘flipped learning’ projects, business visits, research, guest speakers”, we were told these enable students to develop and channel projects like genuine business initiatives.

If you haven’t yet, make time to check the website:  https://digitalsocietyschool.org/event/dss-program-during-outburst/ Sign up for an event and interact with the experiences.  As they say on their website, “Celebrating the most outstanding work in fashion, digital interactive design, media, communication and ICT! Come and join us!” What are you waiting for?

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Unleashed Creativity: The Digital Society School’s showcase

‘Unleashed Creativity’ The Digital Society School’s 2019 showcase was a show stopper! Fortunately, you’ve got all week to immerse yoursel...