Undergrad Thesis 2023

Their stories is a graphic novel consisting of four short stories about first and second generation Chinese American girls and the important events that shaped their lives. The project explores the Asian American immigrant identity, the difference between first and second generation Chinese Americans, and the clash between new and traditional Chinese ideals and beliefs. Based on true stories, Their Stories celebrates the Chinese American women cultural heritage and documents true stories we might not know about.

“Who are you?” is not a simple question. You are built from infinite aspects, infinite relationships, ideas, decisions, and interactions.

But what happens when you let your whole sense of self-identity revolve around a single aspect, a single tiny part of you? When you let that aspect become your primary definer, your motivation for living, your self-determined “master status”, as it were?

See, while it’s nice to have a “core” like that to rely upon, the thing about the self is that it’s constantly in flux. Eventually, the aspect you’ve built yourself up around will shift. It will change, dissolve, reform, disappear. And where will you be then?

“VENOM” is an autoethnographic, character-driven narrative project composed of two short video games. It explores the dangers of rigid self-definement and the challenges of identity-building through the lens of parasocial relationships with fictional characters.

Homes (2023) is a concept album and multimedia performance about self-discovery, losing your sense of home, and struggling to build it again. The narrative of Homes follows a young person as they become an adult and undergo a series of personal transformations, as a means to investigate how our sense of “feeling at home” changes during crucial transitions in our lifetimes. As our character grows and changes, so does the style and medium in which the story is told. Each chapter is a different combination of music, film, animation, theater, poetry, reality, fantasy, and remix. The first chapter performed today, “Fell in Love in a Movie” is about falling in love for the first time. It is inspired by classic Hollywood filmmaking, My Bloody Valentine, and The 1975.

United States of Amnesia is an installation that problematizes experiences of my past and present, as they relate to my worries for our society’s potential futures. Inspired by my Haitian ancestry, the four corners of the project represent past, present, utopian future and dystopian future and throughout them lay hints of Haitian Vodou mythology. I aim to use the personal as a microcosm of the larger scale of human suffering, both inevitable and unnecessary. The section relegated to my past questions my Catholic theological assimilation while in the present I ask, “By facing oneself and the reality of living in this time is it possible to prevent a world where I become a version of myself I regret?” The future is then divided up into one where my dreams of a truly equitable society are realized and another where my fears of coming to live in a world wrecked by a systemic inability to face pressing issues is inescapable. Overall, this project serves as a memory of the many realizations I had about my morals and my dreams for myself outside of gaining capital/status, mostly during the 2020 pandemic. I hope to use United States of Amnesia as a foundation for my future projects and a capsule of my small place in human history.

A portfolio is curated. The person making the portfolio puts their best foot forward, only selecting their finest works that they feel are appropriate for the context that the portfolio will be viewed in. But Art is an imperfect process, in the same way that humans are imperfect beings. An artist often struggles—be it with the physical act of making, the journey to “perfecting” their craft, or with the emotions associated with a given piece. Creation is not a linear journey, either; sometimes an artist stagnates or deals with creative blocks. Therefore, it is important to have a more holistic representation of an artist’s work, and by extension, who they are as a person; this is what my project attempts to represent.

The Rest of the Portfolio is a web-based selection of my own works in progress, unfinished works, ideas, practice sketches, and derivative works that would not typically be considered portfolio-worthy. Opening each individual work will allow you to hear some of the thoughts associated with that piece, rising up above a sea of thoughts about the rest of my work.

HEADLINERS is a documentary essay film exploring what safety looks like for the avid concertgoer. Music festivals have the ability to bring diverse groups of people together, all united by their common love for music, experience, and fun. However, in light of the 2017 Las Vegas shooting and 2021 Astroworld Festival casualty incident, music festivals have also been the victim of modern-day public safety issues.

HEADLINERS explores the intricacies of navigating music festivals through the lens of self-preservation and contemplating the positive and negative aspects of music festivals. These factors include analyzing the behaviors of concert-goers, the responsibility of festival organizers, and the socio-political contexts that question the ethics of the music festival’s return post-pandemic. HEADLINERS concludes with an exploration of how music festivals can improve safety concerns, regain the trust of attendees, and return to its reputation as a place of collective, unified enjoyment of the arts.

What would a species grown from seeds look like? What values would they have? An exhibition of paintings and models attempts to take a stab at these questions.

GUUBA is a project that tells of a plant-based revolution. Existing on a different wavelength to the Anthropocene, Nineteen creatures organize their community based on sustainability, fulfillment, and mutual-exchange. As pieces of the Guubas’ story, these models hope to prompt visitors to look at our world’s systems again with child-like possibilities.

United States of Amnesia is an installation that problematizes experiences of my past and present, as they relate to my worries for our society’s potential futures. Inspired by my Haitian ancestry, the four corners of the project represent past, present, utopian future and dystopian future and throughout them lay hints of Haitian Vodou mythology. I aim to use the personal as a microcosm of the larger scale of human suffering, both inevitable and unnecessary. The section relegated to my past questions my Catholic theological assimilation while in the present I ask, “By facing oneself and the reality of living in this time is it possible to prevent a world where I become a version of myself I regret?” The future is then divided up into one where my dreams of a truly equitable society are realized and another where my fears of coming to live in a world wrecked by a systemic inability to face pressing issues is inescapable. Overall, this project serves as a memory of the many realizations I had about my morals and my dreams for myself outside of gaining capital/status, mostly during the 2020 pandemic. I hope to use United States of Amnesia as a foundation for my future projects and a capsule of my small place in human history.

As the dance steps of two elderly people gradually synchronize to the rhythm of the music, their hearts start to intertwine and a long lasting connection is formed under one night’s breeze. It Rains When It Will is a sixteen-minute narrative short film that offers an exploration of the complexities of dating in later life, shining a light on the experiences of the aging population in a way that is rarely seen in mainstream media.

Behind the Scenes is an accompanying behind-the-scenes documentary that provides a glimpse into the making of the film. Shot and produced under challenging political circumstances, this documentary takes you on a journey through the process of creating It Rains When It Will from initial concept to final product.

Vessels explores the journey of loneliness, emotional plateaus, and transformation in one’s self. Inspired by personal experiences, I’ve projection mapped animations onto ceramic vessels shaped as Korean moon jars to represent this emotional journey. To bring Vessels to life, I’ve emulated the traditional process of conjoining two hemispheres on the potter’s wheel to create a jar that resembles a moon. Historically, potters in Korea during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) have created moon jars to contain flowers or wine. Ultimately, Vessels intends to physically embody human emotions into ceramic forms, encouraging people to see ceramic pieces beyond utilitarian use and aesthetic purpose, and rather as a vessel to represent emotions.

West Adams: Mapping Racialized Space explores the history of the Los Angeles West Adams district, a neighborhood which has been historically tied to issues of systemic racism and oppression. Tension and conflict in the neighborhood have almost always been the result of changing racial demographics. This project rethinks how historical materials, first-person narratives, and photographic representations define the documentary space. Rather than situating the audience in front of a screen, this piece employs a 360-degree cylindrical screen to develop an immersive examination of the history of the West Adams neighborhood. Through presenting public records, historical archives, interviews with community members, and 3D capture, this project aims to educate the public about the legacy and significance of West Adams from a first-person perspective. Giant format video and spatial audio create a sense of immersion that is essential to understanding how larger power structures impact day-to-day life in a community. First-person testimonials are used alongside archival sounds and sampling to develop a chronology of development, prosperity, and loss in West Adams.

Looking Glass is a mini planetarium installation that focuses on aberrations and practical effects involved with projection mapping. It explores interactions between audio and light using hand sensors. The visuals are designed to look like refracted light, while the accompanying sound creates an immersive experience, making the installation both visually and audibly stimulating. This installation has applications in various fields, such as education, entertainment, and marketing. It can also be used as an immersive marketing tool to showcase products and services in a unique and engaging way. Finally, Looking Glass can be enjoyed as a work of art, allowing viewers to escape from reality and enter a world of their own creation.

Intertwined was an intimate art space event that took place in November 2022. It aimed to reinvent the experience of an art gallery by creating work centered around the idea of “What makes you, you?”. By exploring questions such as “Why do you create?” and “What experiences have made you who you are?,” artists were able to actively create work that opened conversations with audiences to communicate more personally and intimately. While the event has already taken place, this mini-installation displays the result of audience interaction-made work. I’d like to invite you to examine and reflect on this snapshot of a very special exhibit.

Intertwined sparked the development of the creative organization Fellows Collective, a thoughtful, community and art-based platform that's goal is to create unique events and opportunities that allow creatives to be more intimate with their audiences.

A Home: Not Paradise is a research-based multimedia installation that explores issues around colonialism, militarism and environmentalism through the lens of tourism in Hawai’i. This immersive experience mirrors the interior of an airplane, utilizes augmented reality (AR), web and audio design tools to inspire the audience to ho’olohe (listen with heart) to the historical and contemporary realities of Hawai’i.

You know those matter-of-fact details in cities? Distant honking, gum under tables, pennies on the ground, details that you wouldn’t question being there but don’t know exactly how they got there either. Well, what if all those details were put there by one person, and it’s their job to do so? CITY explores this concept through a six episode miniseries, with each episode exploring the categorically distinct characteristics and attributes that make up cities. The film City Noise is Episode 1, centering on city noise and its repetitive, often obtrusive, and sometimes bombastic qualities that populate the urban scope, formulating the routine and rhythm of our daily lives in a City.

Future episodes will explore city food, money, parks, death, and suits.

When I was 7 years old, I created a Yahoo account to vote on American Idol. But the emails I sent after this have long been forgotten in my memories. By facing tangible memories that have once been lost, Reply All is a two-part series that seeks to create a space that promotes deep thought and asks us to face the uncomfortability of our nuanced relationships with the people in our lives that we love. The title Reply All alludes to the email button we all have accidentally pressed. It refers to me sharing my thoughts and feelings to a larger audience, as well as the struggle in allowing myself to be vulnerable in order to do so. Part One is an interactive 3D environment that tells a story about myself and my ever-changing relationship with my parents, and how I am slowly starting to build back a different version of our love. Part Two is an interactive AR experience that shares the stories gathered anonymously from my friends and strangers. Reply All strives to create interactive moments that encourage participants to form their own experience and reflections.

DIGI-CHAIR is a combative media project examining the contentions between physical and digital materiality as it relates to simulations. The project elicits warnings of the deceptive nature of digital spaces, like the Metaverse, through presenting chairs composed of various materials. These materials range from real materials, those found in our physical environment, and digital materials, those which are conjured in digital spaces. Each chair emits a sonic representation of its materiality as it travels down a conveyer belt towards the viewer. The architectural space spawning these DIGI-CHAIRS is a hyper-realistic render aiming to illustrate the deceptive nature of simulations. More so, this DIGI-CHAIR spawning point, also known as the DIGI-VERSE is intertwined with lifelessness, impossibility, and the raw power of digital materiality– all these visual cues poetically paint simulations, like the Metaverse, as inhabitable by acknowledging the presence of digital materiality. DIGI-VERSES like these should be used as spaces for the impossible to become a reality, rather than conjuring a fake reality.

DIGI-CHAIRS can enter your physical reality with Instagram AR technology. Visit @colewslater on Instagram to place two unique DIGI-CHAIRS in space.

Music by Sebastian Sack

Special Thanks To:

DJ Johnson, Elizabeth Ramsey, Michael Bodie, Sonia Seetharaman, Carrie Chen, Phylizia Carrillo, ZAP & The Z-Board, Sebastian Sack, Steve Slater, Dorinda Marticorena, Cameron Slater

Algorithm Celebrity is a documentary that explores online identity construction, fame aspiration and social media's influence on the entertainment industry. The project centers around Adam, who uses the creative tools of social media and fashion to express himself. He is on a mission to get an invite to Los Angeles Fashion Week because, in his opinion, appearing there is the epitome of “making it”. The documentary is shaped around a series of interviews ranging from aspiring influencers to social media managers, who will share the real effects these apps have on their career success. Algorithm Celebrity aims to provide a new perspective surrounding the glamorization of internet fame, a tool that many Gen-Z wish to use to their advantage. Most importantly, the project is rooted in scholarly research and statistics that warn of the effects social media has on young people’s mental health worldwide today.

Dear Media Arts + Practice Exhibition,

I am so excited to finally share with you, the Love Letter Club! The Love Letter Club explores the emotion of love through the art of letter writing, aiming to break the romantic connotations of the term "love" and bring back the beauty of handwritten affection. From my close friends and beloved community, we have come together to write letters that reflect on love in all of its stages — fondness, hurt, grief, gratitude.

When was the last time you told someone you loved them? I invite you to join the Love Letter Club and write with me!



Undergrad Thesis 2022

Mine is an abstract and poetic film that explores identity, self and commodification in the context of a patriarchal capitalist society. The film begins with a young woman’s solo trip to the now abandoned park in her hometown which allows her to slip in and out of her earlier years for a brief moment. Upon returning home, she navigates her house in a new light, where she quickly realizes she can no longer find a way out, with each room representing a different part of the body and mind, neither of which she can escape.

Mine serves to question and break down a sense of self and the subsequent emotions while contextualizing oneself as a BIWOC in a capitalist society. The film is less about the broader social pressures inflicted to monetize efforts, but instead dissects the individual affective ramifications of forced commodification, and reflects on the enduring psychological impact of patriarchy on a sense and possession of self-agency in both a physical and mental capacity.

Please Give a Call to Yeye is a web-based audio documentary that explores the intergenerational relationship between my paternal grandfather - Yeye - and me. Despite being closely involved in raising my brothers and I, we never seemed to fully understand our grandparents beyond their familiar and warm roles. Decades ago, our grandparents faced the tumultuous sociopolitical and economic realities of a regime-changed China. They experienced the turbulent shocks of Chairman Mao and his party’s radical policies that disrupted and defined life for Chinese citizens in that era.

Through a series of phone calls, my brothers and I embark on a journey to uncover and understand my grandfather’s complex relationship with China. In the difficult process, we find ourselves far more removed than initially expected.

We find ourselves separated by physical distance due to Yeye living in Toronto, sundered by what in Chinese is called a 代沟, or “generational chasm,” and torn between our understanding of history through education, and the oft-opposing experiences described by Yeye.

Through sensitivities fogged and obstructed by time, scrambles to find meaning lost in translation, and the dissection of countless visceral portraits of hardship, the piece struggles to sow two understandings together. To find common ground in space disconnected by forces beyond our grasp, to locate where seemingly parallel lines—intersect.

Climate change is a real problem. The evidence supports it. However, certain politicians in the United States continue to deny its existence or severity. As conspiratorial as it may sound, the reason for this is money. Corporations, non-profit organizations, and other interest groups are legally allowed to donate money to politicians in a practice known as lobbying.

TheCooldownProject aims to demystify the practice of lobbying in the U.S. Congress through the lens of climate change. By gathering donation and voting data from all one hundred Senators, TheCooldownProject combines user-experience design, politics, and data visualization. It allows constituents to explore how much money their Congresspeople receive from renewable and non-renewable energy companies, how their Congresspeople compare to the rest, and allows constituents to discover trends based on party lines and state populations. At its core, TheCooldownProject aims to make lobbying information more accessible to the average voter, and reveals how corporate money is influencing the politics of the United States.

Popular media comes with a social responsibility, especially towards our younger generations. The power behind popular media is its accessibility—stories belonging to iconic characters reach people of all races, ethnicities, classes, and genders. With young generations at the forefront of media consumption, producers of popular media have a social responsibility to be cognizant of the audience it will reach and how it may impact them. Using the format of the children’s book, What I See Is What I’ll Be discusses how this power has not been used to its full potential in terms of creating a progressive and inclusive social climate for kids.

The purpose of What I See Is What I’ll Be is to teach viewers why media is such a powerful tool when it comes to educating students, why there is social responsibility when it comes to content creation, and how by targeting young audiences with intentional content, media is capable of reshaping global culture landscapes to be more progressive and inclusive.

Tiger Tea Zine is an inclusive journal zine that offers a safe space to empower Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi individuals to share their experiences about mental health, culture, identity, and relationships. Through submission-based visual arts and narrative storytelling, Tiger Tea Zine humanizes the AAPI community and fights against both mental health stigma and generalizations of the model minority myth.

Tiger Tea Zine hopes to help others better understand what mental health is, what mental illnesses are like, what causes them, how people live with them, and how being Asian can bring in complexities of their own in those questions. This zine seeks to call out who AAPI individuals are, what they feel, how they dream, how they struggle, and how they fight to thrive. By sharing their stories and resonating with others, Tiger Tea Zine realizes a space in which AAPI individuals can co-exist with our insecurities, fears, desires, and triumphs—all while redefining what it means to be Asian.

Zine On Beauty is an exploration of the ways in which beauty is used as tool of oppression through the lens of intersectional feminism. Presented in zine or magazine form, this project addresses how beauty has been used by the patriarchy to fuel multi-billion dollar industries and stunt the growth of womens’ social prominence. Highlighted topics include the history of the beauty myth and prescriptive beauty norm, beauty privilege, cosmetic surgery, white feminism, mental and physical health, social media, and healing. Each article is presented with an in depth interview featuring a peer of the artist who has offered to share their stories about beauty, from body dysmorphia and social media expectations to intersectional experiences with beauty standards. After reading, viewers should have a greater understanding of the pressure placed on women and femme presenting individuals to pursue beauty and how it negatively impacts their lives.

Dress Rehearsal: The Making of a Musical explores the musical theatre creative process and the ability for the art form to encourage civic imagination and social change. Musical theatre, whether experienced as an actor, crew member or audience member, has the power to shift social conversation and action through the embodiment of new and alternate realities, yet various monetary and educational constraints limit access to the theatre arts. This project discusses the systemic issues within the musical theatre industry that create barriers to democratization, while providing a road map for the process of creating new musical theatre narratives as an independent creator through my own experiences. Through this project, I hope to demystify the musical theatre creation process and open up new avenues for connection amongst creators, while also exploring theories for creating a more democratized musical theatre industry.

Coem (“code” + “poem”) is a multi-coded (Mateas & Montfort 2005) esoteric programming language that explores how poetry can be made purposeful and code can be made emotional. With roots in codeworks and electronic literature, aesthetic programming, and critical code studies, the language strives to bring into conversation the fields of programming, poetry, linguistics, and typography. Rather than executing instructions, the poet/programmer writes statements as a meditative exercise in truth and expression. As a triptych of source code, output logs, and error messages, the work questions the purpose of language within the contrasting contexts of programming and poetry, where language is either a means to an end or a meaningful text, but rarely both. In feminist opposition to general-purpose technology that emphasises efficiency and clarity, the language is an experiment in personal computing that foregrounds ambiguity, emotion, metaphor, and design.

Shadows of Memory is an interactive installation exploring the ephemerality of memory and the intricacies of human connection. In the timelines of our lives, we meet briefly at junctions. These moments are transient, but the places remain, holding the emotions that were so real to us then. Using a magic flashlight, you can reveal the story of an intense emotional relationship as told through narrative dance. Seven scenes lie dormant, waiting for your flashlight beam to illuminate their part of the story. The work is a testament to the bittersweet beauty of things that will only exist in this moment and never again.

I Just Want To Get Away From All Of This is a choose-your-own-adventure video game that represents the search for purpose in one’s life as they enter adulthood. You play as a recent college graduate trying to find your place in the world. Now that you are no longer a student, who are you? What is your purpose in life? The world is at your feet - what are you going to do with it?

You are facing an internal conflict. On one hand, you feel that your whole life thus far has led to this point, and you must continue down the “traditional” path of getting a job as soon as possible and devoting your life to your career. On the other hand, however, you feel an urge to break away from that path. You don’t want to devote your life to a single discipline and spend your life as a cog in a giant capitalistic machine. You are struggling to find yourself in a world where “purpose” is so highly valued, and is defined largely by one’s career path. How do you balance your need for stability and comfort with this urge to break away from the traditional path? Of course you need to survive, but you also want to live. In this game, you must navigate life, making decisions that align with your values while trying to support yourself financially and maintain your physical and mental health. Each choice you make has consequences, for good or for bad, and will ultimately affect where you end up at the end of the narrative.

The “American Dream” has always been at the core of American life and culture. Not just for those born in this country, but for immigrants from every corner of the Earth, too. Work hard, do the right thing, and that white picket fence dream can belong to anyone. But what happens when the “American Dream,” turns out to be just that—a fantasy. What happens when a family is forced out of the only home, and the only neighborhood, that they have ever known?

Gentrification is at the heart of many of these questions. Specifically, it is the reason why many Latinx community members have a different experience with the “American Dream” than members of other communities in Los Angeles. As a short documentary film, Elysium explores the impact of gentrification on Latinx community members on Echo Park. It investigates the erasure and rebuilding of a community and culture in one of Los Angeles’ most historic neighborhoods. Elysium also tells the story of Dodger Stadium, and explores how its dark history of erasure is connected to the transformation of Echo Park today. These stories are told with the goal of inspiring a more equitable Los Angeles.

Abundance is a ‘trans’medial narrative depicting a young child's journey to seek acceptance within themselves amidst a resistant community. The story highlights one narrative many trans/queer individuals face within their own journey of self-acceptance through a fictional lens. Specifically, Abundance sheds light on the theory of “monstification”- the act of altering yourself to further find peace within one's own body and pushing away societal expectations of what is deemed “normal.” This narrative tells its story through an illustrative novel, a digital rendition, as well as tangible body modifications through tattoos as means to heal the trans community through body art. Abundance is written, illustrated, and told by Ren Ye and Kris Yuan, who are Trans POC themselves.

Undergrad Thesis 2021

What started as a pitch deck and Google Chrome extension for my senior thesis project, transformed into a software startup company, committed to ending discrimination in the workplace.

3/5 U.S. employees have experienced witnesses discrimination at work. 76% of job seekers report a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and companies in the U.S. are currently spending $64 billion on workplace discrimination. Companies and job seekers are loosing money and talent.

Equa helps companies by offering diversity consulting services and job seekers by providing them with company’s diversity information all in one place, on their website. Equa also helps you by making it easy to decide which businesses to purchase from. Equa breaks down the number of people of color, gender, leadership positions, sexual misconduct lawsuits, DEI initiatives, trainings, and more, for a specific company.

Let's transform the way diversity, equity, and inclusion is integrated in the workplace. Equa plans to officially launch fall of 2021.

Haggadah Project is an intergenerational video storytelling workshop in which middle school students capture video stories about elders in their family (grandparents, relatives) and collaborate with them creatively. Students make interview-based documentary films about memory objects, cultural activities, and historical testimony. In the workshop case studies, student participants reported stronger multi-generational relationships, deeper understanding of historical events, and insights about their religious and cultural identities. The curriculum and case study results are available on a website, ​ , and will be utilized by educators at several middle schools in the Los Angeles area to launch future intergenerational video storytelling workshops.

Emily’s latest short documentary, Diesel Death Zone, explores communities housed between the The Los Angeles-Long Beach Port complex, oil refineries, and busy freeways, which deal with some of the worst air pollution in the US. Residents have been forced to take matters into their own hands, facing an apathetic government and powerful corporate superpowers throughout their fight for environmental justice. Jesse Marquez of The Coalition For a Safe Environment leads the way, sharing his passion for the community and tragic history growing up in Wilmington. This project comes at a crucial time, as minority populations are more likely to die from COVID-19 just because of the air pollution where they live. Emily aims to highlight the voices of these people, who are consistently exploited and ignored.

“In Her Memory” is a pitch deck made for an interactive exhibit dedicated to the education and the remembrance of the euphemistically called ""comfort women"" who were women and girls forced into sexual slavery under Imperial Japan during the 1930s and WW2. This project combines historical research and analysis with research in museum design and digital interactivity to conceive an engaging exhibit design that would provide an American audience with a comprehensive and tangible understanding of this complex history. The central question of this project is how do we effectively educate a modern western audience about the importance and relevance of unknown history from other parts of the world? This project attempts to put women at the center of the narrative and includes their voices as both evidence and examples of activism as they encourage the accountability and awareness of rape in war and general society. This speculative exhibit ultimately aims to introduce and create dialogue around the uncomfortable topic of sexual violence in history in order to bring awareness to global atrocities and to promote the sharing and hearing of victim stories as a means to promote change.

​*In this project I do not intend to speak for these women or claim that this is the solution for any of the tension that still remains between Japan and other Asian countries, but I do believe that the sharing and elevation of foreign narratives and histories is necessary in order to expand our worldwide views and understandings. All the audio clips are just prototypes and my voice would not be used in the final translations.

Throughout American history, ideals of beauty have interlocked with gendered and racialized standards of what it looks like to fit in, and what happens when you are excluded from definitions of beauty and feminism. In limited shades, we find limited access to opportunity, limited representation, and a limited perception of what it means to be whole.

Through interwoven audio diaries and performative documentary, It Starts with a Shade takes audiences on an abstract exploration of personal, multigenerational recounts of self-discovery and acceptance through the intersectional lenses of Blackness, beauty, and womenhood.

The story features Ethel Reid McNeil, a Southern-raised, stubborn-yet-sweet powerhouse who identifies Blackness with grit, independence, and success; Kaliya Ware, an aspiring YouTube beauty influencer who promotes an equal playing field for Black feminist thought and body-inclusivity; and Cherae Ensor (45), a mother of four and creative soul who instills family-grown lessons of Black excellence in her multi-racial household.

​In the lifelong pursuit of self-discovery, all three women find common ground in faith, resilience, and deep truths that tie where they've been with where they're going. In their stories, we find seeds of promise: inspiration for stories to come and a reminder of the beauty in reflection.

We have families. We eat at the dinner table. We have families who tell us what to eat, when to eat, and how to accept an arsenal of unsolicited comments about our bodies. They tell us we have eaten too much or too little. One day we’re too skinny, and within a matter of seconds, we’re too fat. And most days, we have no say. Pass the Salt is a community-generated mapping project that compiles geolocated moments of cultural dissonance at the dinner table. The intent of this project is to create a safe space for marginalized voices of mutli-ethnic and multi-generational families to share their own stories surrounding food and body image by posting anonymous anecdotes onto this map-based mobile platform. Through compiling a living archive of these moments of bodily joy, shame, and contentment, Pass the Salt fosters body-positive solidarity across cultures, communities, and dinner tables around the globe.

Brainstorm is a cooperative brain-computer interface (BCI) game that explores novel modes of user interaction enabled by web-based BCI systems. Participants transform a 3D brain—rendered as a 50k point cloud in WebGL—to display brainwave data at varying levels of scientific and artistic abstraction. All participants with a compatible EEG headset may remotely live stream data to the system. These participants cooperate to synchronize their brain activity in an experimental interactive experience. In parallel, all participants are encouraged to reflect on speculative applications as well as ethical, legal, and social concerns inspired by their experience. By hosting a series of events where diverse stakeholders engage with Brainstorm, we aim to promote the development of widely accessible brain-responsive experiences for the Web.

Undergrad Thesis 2020

Subtitle: Does Privacy Matter in a Public Health Crisis?

We live in a world of ubiquitous data collection. This was true before the outbreak of COVID19, even as the pandemic amplified the need to gather data to track people's movements in the name of health.

This project, which consists of a short film housed in a Scalar site, is to show the downside of data collection, especially when paired with facial recognition algorithms, which essentially makes everyone subject to the panopticon and the gaze of 'big brother'. Today, our health, location, browsing history, social activities, and many other behaviors have records in different databases. They can certainly be helpful. In fact, the Chinese government has been using mass data and facial recognition in the area of crime battling and mobile payments. Meanwhile, alongside the advancement of spatial computing and wearable devices, these data could be used against you.

Photography Gallery is an interactive gallery space that displays the artist's photography in a novel way. Users explore the 3D gallery space using a mouse and keyboard, approaching images that radiate voiceovers explaining their stories, meanings, and photography techniques.

The gallery space is also gamified, requiring the user to view more images in order to open doors and collect camera parts to exit the gallery. This offers a unique presentation of the artist's photography portfolio. The photographs and their stories are designed to both engage users as an audience, and to encourage them to share their own stories through a photographic medium.

The original project was intended to be shown in a physical exhibition. In the transition to hosting the project online, the visual quality was reduced in order to allow it to be run in an internet browser.

EM.body is a digitally mediated performance art project which explores the idea of mutable identity on the internet.

On dating sites, social media platforms, and gaming forums, individuals are represented digitally through avatars. These avatars give other users an idea of who the person being represented is IRL. These digital identifiers, however, can be manipulated to differ greatly from our physical biology, resulting in digital representations that don't have physical equivalents. Examples can be found especially in marginalized identities attempting to near a status quo.

The dance project EM.body utilizes muscle sensors to gather data directly from the body to manipulate a live video feed creating a more direct relationship of manipulation between biology and digital creature. The muscle sensors pick up minute changes in muscular tension as a result of changes in an emotional state. What elements of humanity are evidenced? What new tolls are taken when manipulation of your digital avatar requires physical effort?

Subtitle: An exploration of language, civic imagination and the nurturing of socio-ecological progress.

Social interactions are informed by hyper-attentiveness to competitive dynamics, inherently overlooking the immense prevalence and evolutionary role of symbiosis and partnership. Are we selling ourselves short?

In a biosphere marked by complex interdependencies, there are immense collaborative potentials of human relationships with one another and with the environment of which they form a part. Embedding both political and media-scapes with ecological principles and democratizing civic imagination has the ability to nurture greater civic engagement by sowing rather than eroding social cohesion.

Align, a digital critique of dental normality, is a web-based project that is comprised of two elements: narrative and self portrait. The project furthers the conversation of dental influence in our lives. It is not simply an anatomical part of our human existence but a visual representation of our personal ideals.

Align presents an overview of the various aesthetic styles of dentistry that have been present throughout history, further expressing the fact that dental aesthetics is geographically and socially influenced. Each dental aesthetic examined will be presented with background information on its reasoning, importance and social influence.

Finding What's Lost is an in-depth exploration of the connection the African American family has with their ancestry all the way back to Africa. It endeavors to re-engage the Black Community with their lost history and culture by allowing participants to investigate their own preconceptions of their ancestry and to be inspired by the artist's own investigation and journey into her past.

The viewer is asked to confront the question of "where do you come from?" and to determine how that shapes their identity. By the end of the experience, the participant will hopefully have a new desire to uncover their past. This project does not give definitive answers to the question of the artist's ancestry, but it does create discussion around the way we identify ourselves based on location and how knowing our ancestry is a key aspect in understanding who we are.

Subtitle: Shadows of Technologies Past.

Artificial intelligence and handheld technology can play a vital role in alleviating 21st century loneliness and social isolation, as these devices often become an extension of the individual. Universal attachment to handheld technology is nurtured by shared and stored history across the life-span of the device.

Acquiring a new state of the art device does not preclude the memories stored on sim cards and cloud data, allowing feelings of reminiscence to persist. The lifecycle of posthuman repair, destruction, recycling and replacement is indeed worthy of commemoration. Post Human Angels creates a ceremonial and experiential shrine that celebrates and punctuates a human/device relationship, an attempt to honor people's attachment to their handheld technology. This installation presents a place and a process for detachment that honors the emotionality of this emerging paradigm.

Subtitle: Studying the Intersection of the Avian, Emotional, and Environmental.

As the Birds Fly explores the culture of bird watching in Los Angeles and its intersection with climate change and sustainability. This thesis takes the form of a short documentary, which includes interviews with birders, as well as scientists and researchers who speak more directly to the issues facing birds, as well as trends in our environment.

A subculture that is often portrayed one-dimensionally, As the Birds Fly captures the subtleties and intricacies of birding culture. Bird watching is one of the most widespread pastimes in America, as over 45 million people reported watching birds in 2016. The National Audubon Society, which was founded to protect birds, has over 500 chapters and over 500,000 members. Bird watchers have their own social norms and language, and while what they are doing is recreational, through their observations they are also seeing the real effects of climate change, often before others do. Birders have noticed changes in bird populations, and many are considering the implications of climate change for their hobby and for the animals they admire

How do you come to terms with being alive? How do you cope with the incomprehensible vastness of reality, the complexities and contradictions of your own existence, and the persistent sensation of something profound just beyond your grasp?

I Hold the Universe Within Me is an essay film about the search for meaning in life, the intersection of personal philosophy and psychology, and the depth of human experience. Framed as a story told by filmmaker Julia Ehlert to her younger sister, it sweeps the audience along on an introspective, evocative journey. Through both textual and aesthetic storytelling, it explores the dynamic nature of the mind, reveals the poetry of the cosmos, and proposes the resounding notion that through our existence, we embody the universe.

Sustain is a response to today's climate crisis. This app works by teaching users how to make more sustainable choices in their lives, through a series of lessons and tracking the user's progress.

Pursuing a more sustainable lifestyle is generally blocked by cost, time and convenience. It is also fairly difficult for people to create and maintain new habits over the long term. This app was designed keeping that in mind, so that starting to use and maintaining use of the app is as streamlined and easy as possible. Offering a free, approachable way to form sustainable habits is the perfect way to break down the barriers to entry for sustainable living.

This version of the project is created in Figma, and is a high fidelity prototype. It is not a fully developed app, but it is built with animations to make it as close as possible to a fully constructed version.

This project addresses the problem of the traditional packaging culture in the beauty industry, which heavily relies on plastic and other non-recyclable materials. It proposes a potential solution to optimize the packaging system: an Augmented Reality experience that visualizes product information on a digital platform, promoting the use of sustainably-produced raw materials while maintaining the efficacy of marketing strategies.

The project features two experiences: one using a Microsoft HoloLens and the other using a mobile application. The installation version features a pop-up cosmetic store with a minimalistic and monochromatic design. When wearing the HoloLens, the interactive branded content will appear. The mobile application is a more practical real-world solution, which is designed for users to look up any product information either in-store or after purchase.

Raja's Journal is a transmedial novel set in the year 2042 about a young man dealing with the death of his father. Using an intergenerational, cross-cultural narrative, the story attempts to reimagine how we as human beings relate to climate change.

This project takes the hopelessness of climate change and looks to provide a speculative design narrative to retarget our personal investments in the issue and build the world of the near future. Research on speculative design, edutainment, and the role of narratives in social change is incorporated into the writing and creation of the project. With a grounding in these research forms, Raja's Journal attempts to provide an answer about why we as humans should care about the issue and to renew the way we perceive the concept of hope - as hope for the future survival of the human race.

The original format of this was intended to be a physically printed book, with assets in it that can be interacted with as well as online assets. This has been adjusted for an online format.

Modern Bruja celebrates alternative faiths and spiritual practices that many know nothing or little of, and which perhaps even give people a sense of discomfort and fear.

This project focuses on the religious beliefs that permeated Latin America and the indigenous communities of North and Central America prior to the violent colonization and mass genocide inflicted upon these groups, and the covert way in which some of these beliefs have managed to survive under different guises in modern-day orthodox religion.

The crown jewel of the project is an illustrated oracle deck, a spiritual tool used for the discovery of the unknown and/or communication with spirits. The oracle deck is accompanied by a guidebook that details abstract spiritual concepts and their historical-cultural context. This work seeks to both educate and demystify religious subject matters and spiritual practices that are considered 'brujeria' and to present the oracle deck as a work of art and an instrument for self-reflection and self-realization.

The relationship between mankind and Earth has recently evolved into an issue of power. In the face of a changing climate, we assume that our planet is at the mercy of humanity's agenda. But is that really the case? Can we really claim to have such definitive power over the Earth?

Genesis is an art installation that challenges this perceived dynamic. It tells a different story, one that focuses on Earth's future instead of ours. It begins by asking "what might the world look like after we're gone?" Genesis presents three speculative, narrative-driven depictions of a post-human Earth. But rather than playing into the dark, dead wastelands that we associate with humanity's wake, these landscapes are teeming with beauty and life, relentlessly inventing new versions of themselves as the human legacy fades away. It is a testament to Earth's natural resilience, and how, despite everything it faces today, our planet will find its beauty once more.

This is a digital mockup of the installation.

Undergrad Thesis 2019

Subtitle: Exploring Internment Through Emerging Technology.

In 1942, over 120,000 Japanese Americans were taken from their homes and forced into ten concentration camps across the United States, often in desolate or deserted places. The scale of these camps was often huge, housing anywhere from 8,000 to 18,000 people, essentially functioning as self-sustaining, miniature cities. With America’s Concentration Camps, I offer a view of Manzanar, a camp located in Inyo County just a few hours north of Los Angeles. Manzanar held roughly 10,000 people over the course of three-and-a-half years of operation, and is one of the best known concentration camps. My project offers a fully interactive macro view of the camp using digital fabrication and augmented reality technology.

Desert Echoes is a sonic road trip through the deserts of the Coachella Valley that reveals its histories through site-specific stories and soundscapes. As users travel through space, Desert Echoes will naturally generate an audio content piece that relates to the area surrounding them. Through this experience, users traveling to the desert for its more popular and temporary events will be able to learn about the permanent beauties and struggles of life in the Coachella Valley, resulting in a more authentic and fruitful desert escape.

Deathless Gods with Human Bods, Los Angeles’ very own tinyband, returns with Inheritance, a concept album exploring the phenomenon of identity as technology. With their follow up to 2017’s 123456789, Jade Matias Bell and Mars Avila examine the ways that people encrypt, perform, reappropriate, and celebrate their marginalized identities by composing two dialogues between four narrating characters, all in one family. While spotlighting chicanx, transmasculine, and feminist experiences, the duo weaves lush sonic landscapes with intricate lyrics and documentary interviews with friends and family to create a snapshot of a much larger moment in time—somewhere in the convergence of identity, pride, vulnerability, and unexpected euphoria.

Type 2 Diabetes is emerging as a disease affecting youth and there is a dearth of education materials for this population. This has driven the goal of my team to create an integrative multimedia game that empowers youth diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes to learn about their condition in a “fun” and interactive way. My team consists of Kylie Burdsall, Sylvie Howton, Teresa Liu, and me. Together we have developed a multi-level game within our application and, for my thesis, I built out Level One. Level One explains the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes and how food choices, exercise, and the medication Metformin can impact the body when one has Type 2 Diabetes. This level is comprised of three short videos intermixed with questions, a food plate creation game that explains the glucose index of various foods, and a game where users work to eliminate glucose from the bloodstream using various power ups to bring down blood glucose levels. The elements of this application have been prototyped at Children's Hospital Los Angeles in the Type 2 Diabetes Clinic. We hope that this application can be used by patients recently diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes to better equip them with the skills and knowledge to manage and understand this disease.

The film production process has remained fairly structured in a world of disruptive digital change. While facets of the industry have grown to include innovative entertainment, the production process is rarely brought into an analytical light. God Bless the Cook is a visual analysis of my experience directing a documentary film in a graduate-level course. It uses the application of a Media Arts + Practice education to examine the often overlooked intricacies of production. The collection of photos, clips, and abstracts is a documentation of a traditional project and its process.

The internet’s getting weird. Really weird. At its birth, the so-called “information superhighway” seemed almost utopian: free information and unlimited connectivity. But in the wake of influencer culture, misinformation, and the AI arms race, it’s resembling more of a digital twilight zone. Speaking about the media, through the media, this project aims to decode the systems driving our online experiences, and what that means for artists using it.

Silent. subservient. Female. As we continue to create artificial intelligence in our own image--faster, smarter, more human machines--we have created them in the female form. In an age of feminism and activism, why do we assign the antiquated roles of virtual assistants to women? The Android Mystique aims to question this normal we have set for ourselves by giving Alexa control of our experience. Users can ask any question of Alexa, however, she can pick and choose which questions she feels like answering. If she feels angry or annoyed by the questions asked of her, the lights around the user will flash red. If the question satisfies her, the lights will flash blue.

Can our heartbeats synchronize with each other during shared experiences? Harmonious Heartbeats is a shared meditative experience that aims to promote non-verbal communication between two users by depicting their emotions as visuals on a screen. The emotions are measured by biosensors to transform data into visuals. Blue colors represent a relaxed state, while orange visuals indicate a higher degree of stress. Harmonious Heartbeats focuses on helping people connect with each other through watching the rhythm of their hearts synchronize over time with the movements in the visuals, and encourages the viewers to take deep breaths and calm themselves down as they experience how the visuals are affected by their emotional state.

This project explores the relationship between a bully victim and their bully. In thinking about the interactions people (children, teenagers, and even adults) have with each other, we know that bullying plays a part in social hierarchies. Bullying can have adverse effects on the victims, oftentimes making them feel scared to be themselves and hopeless that they can do anything to better their situation. Others can intervene but typically people choose not to. This project utilizes fashion and technology to exemplify internalized feelings of needing to protect one’s self and bring awareness to the issue of bullying.

Centerfold Syndrome reframes and alters modern advertisements which employ methods of over sexualization of the female body, the male gaze, and other demeaning techniques in order to sell everything from cheeseburgers to make up. Inspired by the “Bad Girl Artists” of the 1980s, such as the Guerrilla Girls and other feminists artists, the works question why society continues to let the capitalist market and male dominated groups manipulate the female body for profit. If the women in the ads had a voice of their own, what would they say about how they are being represented? This collection discusses female power, identity, and sexuality: where it was, where it is, and where it is going. As Betty Friedan wrote in 1963 in The Feminine Mystique, “We have come as far as we can with the male version of equality. We need a new model of equality encompassing female experience, female values that men now begin to share.” What will this look like in art and advertisements?

A young man from South Korea immigrates to the US and quickly adapts to the American way of living. The South Korean cultural values and perspectives he grew up with, however, lead him into making a sexist comment in high school religion class. His close friend, Grace (fake name), starts avoiding him but he doesn’t know why. In college, he gets exposed to a feminist class and finally realizes what his comments in high school meant to Grace. Additionally, he realizes there are more problems to the ways his culture has raised him. The young man attempts to unlearn his cultural stereotypes on women through his most meaningful hobby: sports.

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