Thursday, December 15, 2011

Emergent Landscape Speaker Series- Chris Thompson

“Be ready to fail. Make sure you go far enough out of your comfort zone that you are destined to fail.”
Chris Thompson, curator of the Burlington City Arts Gallery, spoke with an assurance attainable only by personal experience as he educated the current MFA students about the potential in the degree they are working toward. After twenty years of employment in the business world as a technology manager, Chris Thompson quit his job and, with the encouragement of his family, became a full-time artist.
“I had no idea what being an artist was,” he admitted. That is where he insisted that the students had a serious advantage. “An MFA teaches how to interact in the art world,” he said, and understanding the capability of such knowledge was an extraordinary thing.
A fantastic and captivating speaker, Chris Thompson detailed his interest in combining technology with art to create unique pieces of work. He is fascinated with patterns and how cultural mediums have underlying rules that are more structured than they seem.  As curator at the Burlington City Arts Gallery, Chris has managed showcases featuring Combat Paper (2009) and the JDK Kite Project (2011).
Speaking as part of the Emergent Landscape Speaker Series for the Champlain College MFAs in Emergent Media, Chris Thompson expressed the different things he had learned since becoming an active part of the art world.
“Natural talent will give you a head-start but it won’t win the race.”
 “Know the unspoken rules.”
“Cultivate your idiosyncrasies and play to your strengths.”
“Risk-taking and failure are essential.”
He offered excellent advice to those pursuing a future in art: talent is appreciated, but hard work has to be a large part of the equation. It is crucial to be aware of all personal strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and obstacles in order to accomplish all goals.
Perhaps most obscure to everyone is the idea of failure, especially the notion that one should embrace it in order to succeed. But the MFA candidates present would do well to stand strong in the face of disappointment, because, as Chris Thompson insisted: “Long hours of work mean that eventually you are probably going to make a really interesting mistake. Experience the resistance of the medium, [because] bugs are often some of the most interesting things I do.”
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the very last person we heard from was Chris Thompson,” said MFA student Andrea Olson, “who has led a life, not the usual kind. He definitely did not go from A to B like most people, which I think kind of represents what an Emergent Media student is.”
For more information about the MFA in Emergent Media, go to

Friday, December 9, 2011

Project Spotlight- Fall 2011

The Project Spotlight illuminates Emergent Media Center projects and the students who work on them, a tribute to the talented individuals employed here. This semester we have spoken to graphic designers, game artists, and programmers about their assignments and what they love most about the EMC.

Allyson, a senior Graphic Designer, is working on Breakaway's Facilitator's Guide. "I work on the graphics and send it in for feedback. I love getting feedback, and the EMC is great for that."

Dayna, a junior Graphic Designer, is working on the Champlain College Compass Project. Her focus is on accessibility for the mobile application. Every day she walks by the screens around Champlain's campus and thinks to herself, "I helped make that."

Ian, a sophomore Electronic Game Programmer, is working on an EMC project called the Citizen Stage for the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts. When completed, the Citizen Stage will be the social media aggregator deepening the engagement and participation of its patrons. "Shaina, our MFA project manager, has been talking with the Flynn Center about improving their social media and this is the brainchild of that talk."

Ian, a junior Game Programmer, is working on an EMC project called Room to Explore, an interactive experience for high school kids as they begin their college search. Ian is preparing the game for testing and removing technical bugs. "The EMC is giving students the most hands-on experience of working with clients and teams. I'm learning a lot along the way."

Desiree, a sophomore Game Art and Animation major, is a member of the Brainstorming team and an artist on the Room to Explore project here at the EMC. "I like the fact that we're working on things that are relevant and important. They're meaningful and they have an impact." Next semester Desiree is looking forward to working with a team on the newest Microsoft Kinect Gadget.

Interested in more information concerning projects and other events at the EMC?  Be sure to like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter: @EMCchamp.

Monday, November 14, 2011


When: Monday, November 28th at 5:30pm
Where: Burlington City Arts Center- 135 Church Street
Interested in the MFA Emergent Media Program at Champlain College?
Then don't miss out on a genuine MFA experience! Join us for a brief information session and the Emergent Landscape class with featured speaker Chris Thompson, curator of the Burlington City Arts Center. Be part of envisioning the creative spark in contemporary arts transforming the future of technology.
RSVP: Contact Kathleen Ray at or 802-383-6602 by November 24th!
Online Streaming:
Twitter: Tweet your questions and follow #champMFA
Facebook: post your questions and follow here:
Not able to attend or follow live? Check back here for a recap of events and stay tuned for upcoming events and projects at the EMC:

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Emergent Landscape Speaker Series- Adam Rubin

With tangible passion and dedication, Adam Rubin spoke to the current MFA students about the state of education.
“The United States is forty-eighth in the world in mathematics and science,” he said. “It’s a national security issue.” His firm, 2Revolutions, combines social change revolution and labor market revolution to improve the national education system. In its fourth year, 2Revolutions is an education design lab that “designs/launches new ‘future of learning’ models.” Adam Rubin’s presentation, The Future of Learning (…and how you can help design it), illustrated the dire state of the education system in our country.
Three-fourths of high school graduates are not adequately prepared academically for first-year college courses. Schools are built to manufacture citizens for a twentieth-century solution, a world in which the only options after high school were college, factory, or farm. “The game has changed,” Adam Rubin said. “But we’re still using the same system.”
Education should be personalized with students “driving their own learning.” A successful learning experience should be based on competency and proficiency—essentially “outcomes rather than time.” No person should be made to feel inferior because he or she required more than thirteen years to complete K-12 education. It should be a personal experience, each child receiving what they need to get the most out of their schooling. “Fixing the education problem will maintain U.S. economic competitiveness, preserve democracy and respect for diversity, and drive social well-being and quality of life across society.”
Adam Rubin spoke at Champlain College as part of the Emergent Landscape Speaker Series for the MFAs in Emergent Media. His goals for recreating American’s perception of modern education are relevant and necessary to the successful future of the country. Education at the K-12 level is supposed to be enjoyable and entertaining, stipulations that foster success.
As a society we have to get rid of the notion that a four-year college education is the only truly right answer, especially for an eighteen-year-old kid fresh out of high school. “Our firm does not advocate ‘college for everyone,’ but every kid should have the option to go and be successful. They’ve just chosen something else.” Essentially, forcing children to go to school at eighteen is counterproductive, and something needs to change.
2Revolutions is working toward redefining education to reach all of these goals, to change popular perception of the “right” steps in education. Adam Rubin is beginning the revolution in his own firm, utilizing Talent Clouds to brainstorm and develop ideas. The talent cloud encompasses various talents and places them in positions of experts, project managers and researchers, with each person doing what they want to do in a form that they are really good at.
Adam Rubin’s goals to redefine the education system seem to be based on a similar idea: it requires people who are using what they love to do in a way that offers positive results. He said he hoped to include the MFA students in his talent cloud as well, in an effort to “unthink school to rethink learning.”
The future, therefore, should be all about “do[ing] what you love for good.”

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Emergent Landscape Speaker Series- Michael Jager

Michael Jager—tall, thin, and unassuming—entered the room with a smile.
“The human connection seems to be breaking down,” he said, opening his conversation on fearless empathy with a video of a couple kissing passionately.  His mission in the design world is to create things that reinforce and encourage that connection—a connection that stimulates a sensual memory, like a person’s first kiss.
In an incredible two hours, Michael Jager illustrated his achievements at JDK Design with the perfect amount of humor and audience interaction. Using such clients as Burton Snowboards, Zune, and Xbox 360, he explained the importance of empathy in his line of work. “Clients are not villains or meat… Always practice respect for your audience. People are not dumb.”  JDK’s success stems from the firm’s resilient recognition of that human connection and the importance of empathizing with those they work for: the brands and the community.
MFA graduate students and community members alike sat enthralled as Michael Jager displayed a design for a Burton Snowboard done entirely in blue ink from a Bic Pen, followed by more designs drastically different from the one preceding it. He explained the importance of starting from scratch for each design: “Kill what you know,” he said. “There is always more to learn.”
After encouraging the audience to always “disrupt with substance,” Michael Jager did just that, inviting the MFA graduate students present to participate in an activity titled Hand Jobs. Each person was given a mirror, a pad of paper, and one minute to complete a self-portrait without lifting the pen from the paper. When that minute was up, each pad was passed around three times to a different person, each participant adding first a noun, then a verb, and finally an adjective.
The end results garnered much laughter as each person read from the pad, presenting such creations as “Ground See Green” and “Frantic Thought Bomb.” It was a successful use of William S. Burroughs’ cut-up method, in which the consciousness of a group is merged and overlapped to create what may be lurking in the collective unconscious. “Don’t think, make,” Michael Jager said as he watched the MFA graduate students draw. “Make yourself make, and don’t stop.”
While part of the Emergent Landscape Speaker Series for the MFAs in Emergent Media, Michael Jager’s conversation on fearless empathy applied to all those present, Champlain College undergraduates and community members alike.
“Disregard where your abilities end. You can always go further.”
“Create trust.”
“Seek criticism, not praise.”
JDK’s success is largely due to the design talent inside the firm, but also remarkable is the company’s values and the idea of living brands that resonates with consumers and clients equally. Michael Jager made design sound personal, with each client and each assignment no more or less important than the ones before and after it. His notion of “fearless empathy” is easily applicable to any and every relationship, business or personal, and though unassuming and personable, it was very clear by the end of the conversation that Michael Jager was an expert on the idea of the human connection.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

EMC Current Projects- Breakaway

Violence against women and girls is a pervasive global problem, often based in cultural stereotypes. Students at Champlain College's Emergent Media Center are in the process of creating a unique online soccer game, BREAKAWAY, that tackles the issues of gender equality, fair team play, and racial stereotypes, as part of the United Nations' UNiTE campaign to end poverty and violence.
Between 15% and 76% of women are targeted for physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime, and most of this cruelty takes place within intimate relationships. Violence against women is more detrimental than the obvious physical effects- it also contributes to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, unwanted pregnancies, and poverty, and results in long-term emotional and mental issues that have a significant impact on the global economy.
BREAKAWAY targets boys and young men between the ages of eight and fifteen by enabling them to identify and think critically about destructive stereotypes and shift their beliefs on gender issues to end violence against women.
Keep an eye out for BREAKAWAY, and tune in every week to learn more about current projects here at the EMC.
For more information about the sweeping issue of violence against women, click on the link below:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Michael Jager- Emergent Landscape Speaker Series

What: Michael Jager: Emergent Landscape Speaker Series
When: Monday, October 3rd, 2011 at 5:30pm
Where: Champlain College's Miller Center: 175 Lakeside Avenue, Burlington

As part of the MFA in Emergent Media at Champlain College, JDK founding member Michael Jager will guide a conversation on the theme of "fearless empathy," speaking as part of the Emergent Media Landscape Speaker Series. The speaker series is part of the foundation experience in the MFA in Emergent Media program, and focuses on enabling dialogue between MFA candidates and industry thought leaders on issues at the cutting edge of art, business, and technology.

Following Michael Jager, there will be a short presentation on the MFA in Emergent Media graduate program, with a Q&A session included. Come join us at Champlain College's Miller Center on Monday night, October 3rd, at 5:30pm!

RSVP by Friday, September 30th by commenting on this post!

Online Streaming:
Twitter: Tweet your questions and follow #champMFA
Facebook: post your questions and follow:!/ChamplainEMC

Not able to attend or follow live? Check back here for a recap of events and stay tuned for upcoming events and projects at the EMC!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Shine brightly!

Once a year, we have the pleasure of honoring the about-to-graduate senior shining stars of the Emergent Media Center.  Last weekend, during the Communication & Creative Media (CCM) Division Honors Night, we presented the following seven seniors with these well-deserved awards.  Congratulations to all of you! You set the bar high for all of those who follow in your footsteps.

Your contributions to the Emergent Media Center, Champlain College and all those whose lives you have positively impacted through the projects you've worked on, do not go unrecognized. You've made us very, very proud. Now go out into the world and SHINE BRIGHTLY!

2011 recipients:

  • Nova Award (Experiential, Work Ethic, Skill Growth): Bryan O'Hara
  • Extragalactic Award (Solutions, Creativity, Innovation): Dan Porter
  • Asteroid Award (Spirit, Enthusiasm): Bryan Hare
  • Fusion Award (Collaboration): Alison Seffels
  • Quasar Award (Commitment & Longevity): Keith Tatarczuk
  • Interstellar Award (Exceptional Achievement in all areas): Steve Beaulieu & Heather Conover


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Summer job opportunities of all kinds!

Want a kickin' summer job?! EMC summer job opportunities now listed.  We're looking to fill many various positions: 

  • marketing and communications
  • video
  • writing
  • programming
  • graphic design
  • interactive design
  • art

Apply early! You must be a Champlain College student to apply.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Connecting with the Community

Just the other week, I received the first Twitter “retweet” that was a milestone for me as a student and upcoming professional. As a first year MFA student at Champlain College, I’ve learned lessons both from lecture as well as classroom discussion with my instructors and peers. I initially enrolled in the program with a background in communication theory and hobbies of audio production and musical composition. Bringing these interests to the Emergent Media courses and classroom discussions have revealed ways to refine and expand my skills while developing a professional outlook for future opportunities and success.

Without further adieu, let me explain what exactly happened in the previously mentioned Twitter experience. The retweet came from Vermont Public Radio (VPR), sharing a link to my work with their nearly 5,000 followers. Beyond just feeling great having my work noticed by such a reputable organization, it taught me an important lesson about applying my education and professional skills to connect with society.

Making an animated sketch about VPR was not conceived with any particular goal in mind, nor it was it approached from one particular angle or focus. It was born from a combination of digital material and software skills I’m accruing as an MFA in Emergent Media student. Appropriately, one could even say the piece, as a whole, emerged. Allow me to elaborate.

As I was driving from Erik Esckilsen’s Digital Story Telling class, VPR was in the midst of their membership drive—a semi-annual fundraiser. By the time I arrived home, I already had a concept that could incorporate several original songs and illustrations on my hard drive, and a rudimentary understanding of Adobe After Effects. I put together a quick animation on the concept of the “hero’s journey,” which the MFA class had been discussing. At the outset, I had no goals in mind beyond strengthening my proficiency with certain software, and to express, humorously I hoped, a digital story related to VPR’s membership drive.

When I’d completed the video I shared a link via Twitter. I mentioned VPR (@vprnet) because it was relevant to the organization. I never anticipated a retweet, let alone a “follow” from either VPR or Brendan Kinney (VP of Development and Marketing for VPR), but this became the reality. In the end, I learned something much more important than how to use software proficiently. The experience taught me the powerful pull of applying emergent media to everyday society, and in particular its communicative impact for local organizations and communities.

Please view the sketch here:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ownership, Collaboration and Participation

The Flynn Center for Performing Arts received the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Innovation grant. As a MFA graduate student, I have been given the tremendous opportunity to work with their Innovation Lab through a partnership with the Emergent Media Center.

I recently attended their 5-day Intensive Week at the Airlie Center in Warrenton, VA. The goal of the intensive week was to investigate ways to stimulate a deeper engagement with their diverse community of stakeholders through online communication strategies. This innovative process would strengthen and embrace new media through the variety of ways we interface with the community.

Arts organizations are confronted with rapidly evolving online user generated content and it is essential that they use new media tools.

Audiences are yearning for a meaningful and participatory online experience. They are no longer satisfied to simply observe. Ben Cameron, Program Director, at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, also attended the intensive week. He stated, “Audience members are hungry for unmediated conversation.”

During the Intensive Week we metaphorically described this extended engagement as “Animating the Arc.” This would extend our communities’ experiences before, during and after the events, utilize video, interactivity and an enriched social media strategy, increasing the communities’ ownership, collaboration and participation in the artistic experience.

Chad Bauman, the communications director at Arena Stage in Washington D.C was graciously able to attend the retreat. His knowledge and experience helped increase our understanding of three major components needed for the undertaking of this innovation journey.

1. Organizational integration: How does an organization improve internal communication to expand on individual exceptional work? How can an organization embrace partners and stakeholders through multi-channel interconnectivity?

2. Mobile integration: Smart phones are becoming a key method to reach out to arts organizations. In order for ease and accessibility, an organization’s website must be smart phone friendly.

3. Social Media integration: The Web. 2.0 environment is friending, blogging and tweeting at a rapid rate. Organizations must take an active role in this online space in order to “Animate the Arc,” especially to engage younger demographics.

My experience with the Flynn has been extremely rewarding. They are at the leading edge for arts organizations in this country. I am thrilled to have this opportunity to help their mission of expanding relationships, deepening engagement and sharing experiences with their communities. I was inspired by the diverse and collaborative innovation team members including, John Killacky, Executive Director of the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, board members, and staff. Their passion and motivation was electric. It is my pleasure and honor as an MFA graduate student, working with the EMC, to support the Flynn internally and externally by embracing new media in this innovative process.

Check out:

The Flynn Center for the Performing Arts on Facebook

Friday, March 4, 2011

Can technology change the status of women in the world?

Can technology change the status of women in the world?

That was the underlying question of the workshop I participated in at the United Nations during the week long Commision on the Status of Women conference.
All this new technology is great, one participant from Zimbabwe said, but how does it help an impoverished woman from the countryside? An impressively eloquent and passionate high school aged girl in the audience spoke about how the Internet is used for trafficking girls all over the world.

My response was that new media is a tool, and that like any tool, can be used for good and bad. I used the example of how video games; which have a reputation for being violent and mindless; can, like BREAKAWAY, be a vehicle for spreading positive and meaningful messages. I also replied that although the Internet may not be able to directly change the life of an illiterate woman in the countryside, others can use the powers of this highly connective medium to create awareness, raise money and facilitate change.

Nonetheless, the fact that these issues are so real and so easily overlooked really hit me. The digital divide grows by the day. Knowing this, how can we sit back and ride the tide of new technology further and further away from shore?

What good is giving a laptop to a boy who cannot read? How can organizations use open source tools if they don't know about them? These are some of the other questions that lingered for me.

The solution seems somewhat obvious -- tools are only what we make them out to be. Without the knowledge of how to use them, they provide no value. You can not just drop a pile of laptops in a village and leave. Putting literacy software on their computers is one solution, having educators facilitate the process is ideal. For just this reason, thanks to a new round of funding from the UNFPA, we will be developing a facilitators guide to travel along with BREAKAWAY.

What are your thoughts and ideas about this? Do you feel any obligation to help bridge the digital divide? How can we best use the tools at our disposal to help others?

Many thanks to Jimmie Briggs from Man Up and UN Women for putting this together!

Watch the video!

The EMC Waits: Early Morning

It's been some pretty busy weeks here at the EMC as you can see by the project-personnel boards below. Lots of projects, lots of travel, lots of interesting people coming and going. The students are about to be off for Spring break. Many, including project manager extraordinaire, Lauren Nishikawa, are at the Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco.
Lauren, Erik Esckilsen, MFA student Hilary Hess and myself have just returned from separate presentations of Breakaway at the UN Commission on Women this month. Tonight is the MFA Open House for interested candidates. We begin bringing potential MFA faculty candidates to campus through March and April. Next Monday undergrad students Chris O'Connor, Taylor Hadden, Matt Adamec and myself present game concepts for the Center for Financial Literacy's Summit.
But this morning at 7:00am the EMC awaits. Here are some fun pics of the EMC in early morning quietude.
We love our open office - shared by undergrads, MFA students, faculty, staff and occasionally project sponsors. It is a hot bed of ideas and plan(t)s.
Besides multiple grants and business development plans, warm wishes await Julie.
Sarah is a model of efficiency...
...and fun!
Myself-obviously over-extended and creative...
...and surrounded by inspiration!
These little guys miss Lauren and hopes she returns soon :-)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Champlain College in Top 10 game design colleges in the country!

Hot off the press! Here's the article from the NY Times announcing The Princeton Review & Game Pro magazine's "Top Places to Study Video Game Design - For Credit." Written by Jacques Steinberg. Source article can be found here. Champlain Game Dev students - head on over to the comments on the NYT blog and let them know what you think!

March 1, 2011, 2:18 PM

The Top Places to Study Video Game Design — For Credit

Are you a high school student who dreams of inventing the next Wii or Kinect sensation, or the next “Call of Duty”?
For the second year in a row, Princeton Review and GamePro Media, the publisher of GamePro magazine, a video-gamers’ bible, have joined forces to handicap what they consider the “Top 10” undergraduate and graduate programs in video game design.
For readers of The Choice who may have logged so much time on the X-Box that they have actually contemplated a career in this (virtual) world, a list like this is probably most valuable as a vehicle for brainstorming the names of universities that actually permit students to study such things. (And yes, I would count myself among those whose first response might well be, “Who knew?”)
Which undergraduate institutions made the list?
1. University of Southern California, Los Angeles
2. University of Utah, Salt Lake City
3. DigiPen Institute of Technology, Redmond, Wash.
4. The Art Institute of Vancouver, Vancouver, B.C.
5. Michigan State University, East Lansing
6. Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Mass.
7. Drexel University, Philadelphia
8. Champlain College, Burlington, Vt.
9. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, N.Y.
10. Becker College, Worcester, Mass.
Princeton Review and GamePro said they had made their selections based on the results of surveys of administrators at 150 colleges and universities that offer video game design courses (and in some cases degrees). They also bestowed “honorable mention” status on five other undergraduate institutions: Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta); North Carolina State (Raleigh): Rensselaer Polytechnic Institution (Troy, N.Y.); Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, Ga.); and Shawnee State University (Portsmouth, Ohio).
The full list, including that of the graduate schools, will be in the April issue of GamePro magazine, due on newsstands March 8.
Do readers of The Choice, particularly those of you who are video game players or who are studying in these programs, have any wisdom of your own to impart here? Please use the comment box below to let us know.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

MFA in Emergent Media OPEN HOUSE - March 4th

Another MFA Open House is around the corner! Though the application deadline for full financial aid consideration has passed, the program is still accepting applications on an individual basis. If you've been thinking about pursuing an MFA, now is the time to find out more. Thinking about next year maybe? Dip your toes in... get a feel for the program.  Thinking about this year? Dive in and find out what possibilities await you!

For out-of-towners, consider spending the weekend to explore the Burlington area or hit the slopes at renowned nearby mountains. Seven Days newspaper has a great calendar for events, music, theater, and art.

Look forward to seeing you there! RSVP via this link or on Facebook.


Join us for an MFA Open House!  Meet Program Director Ann DeMarle, MFA faculty, staff of the Emergent Media Center, and current MFA students. This is a perfect opportunity to find out more about the MFA in Emergent Media program and answer any questions you may have. A representative from Graduate Admissions will also be present to talk about the application process. Refreshments will be served. This is a drop-in style event, however a presentation on the program will take place at 6:00 pm.
  • Friday, March 4th, 2011. 5:30 - 8:00 pm
  • Emergent Media Center at the Champlain Mill, 20 Winooski Falls Way, Winooski, VT 05404
  • Parking is available on street and in nearby parking garage. Parking garage access on Cascade St.

Friday, January 28, 2011

EMC Word Cloud

A little EMC word cloud for your weekend... Courtesy of Wordle. No surprises here, but fun nonetheless!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

MFA in Emergent Media OPEN HOUSE - January 26th

 MFA students
Please join us for an MFA Open House!  Meet Program Director Ann DeMarle, MFA faculty, staff of the Emergent Media Center, and current MFA students. This is a perfect opportunity to find out more about the MFA in Emergent Media program and answer any questions you may have. A representative from Graduate Admissions will also be present to talk about the application process. Refreshments will be served. An optional tour of the Emergent Media Center in Winooski will take place at approximately 7:30 pm.
  • Wednesday, January 26th, 2011 at 5:30 pm
  • Hauke Family Campus building, Room 005 (Building #25 on campus map)
    Champlain College campus, Burlington, VT
  • Parking is available in campus lots and surrounding streets. You do not need a permit to park for this event.
Please RSVP by contacting Kathleen Ray at (802) 383-6602 or
Want more information about the MFA in Emergent Media? Visit