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.