Gray Area Immersive Program Pushes Boundaries of Online Education

Student Art Showcased in Virtual Recreation of Gray Area’s Grand Theater

A virtual recreation of Gray Area’s Grand Theatre. The artwork Place 1 by Kaii Tu is featured, a wire-frame home design
The Gray Area Showcase Spring 2020 took place in a virtual recreation of the Grand Theater.

Change of Space, Space for Change

The Creative Code Immersive is a 12 week long studio art course in computer science, combining modern artistic expression with the powerful capabilities of coding and digital media. Students from a wide range of backgrounds are taught by a group of expert instructors who guide them through the technical and creative aspects of digital art. The course culminates in a showcase where students display their final projects to the public. And, while the exhibitions have always been at the cutting-edge of new media, this year’s spring showcase was undeniably special.

Place 1 by artist Kaii Tu. A 3D wireframe architecture design for a fantastical and infinite series of rooms
Place Series (2020) by Kaii Tu, exhibited in a virtual recreation of the Grand Theater.
A Neural Garden by artist Jacky Lu. A series of surreal digital paintings displayed in a virtual gallery.
A Neural Garden by artist Jacky Lu. A series of surreal digital paintings displayed in a virtual gallery.
A Neural Garden (2020) by Jacky Lu. Individual visitors are represented by green diamonds, and are controlled using the mouse and arrow keys.
Tweet Storm by artist Kara Gates. A colorful graph that models the various emotions expressed in tweets, like joy or anger
Tweet Storm by artist Kara Gates. A colorful graph that models the various emotions expressed in tweets, like joy or anger
Tweet Storm (2020) by Kara Gates. Tweet Storm was one such weekly project, and visualizes a range of emotions expressed in tweets.

Artist Ella Ordona Rises to the Challenge

As students found new ways to connect online, they also experienced new ways of displaying their art. The aforementioned virtual showcase took place in a digital recreation of the Grand Theater, and offered a diverse field of viewing opportunities. While some artwork was displayed on the cyberspace walls, other students opted to redirect attendees to external websites where they constructed their own virtual spaces. For instance, Ordona’s piece Terra Infirma: Hospital Room for Someone Who Can Never Go Home Again is staged in a digitally created space, which the site describes as “a hospital room with surreal and organic touches.”

Terra Infirma by artist Ella Ordona. A virtual room with pink walls; a hospital bed covered in grass sits among other objects
Terra Infirma (2020) by Ella Ordona

A New Sense of Place

Kaii Tu was one of the artists who directly benefited from the Immersive’s newfound accessibility. Based in Shanghai and San Diego, Tu has an impressive background in art and product design, and was able to enroll in the course when it transitioned online.

Place 2 by artist Kaii Tu. A kettle that pours light by projecting a generative white pattern onto a surface.
Place 2 by artist Kaii Tu. A kettle that pours light by projecting a generative white pattern onto a surface.
Place II (2020) by Kaii Tu

Gray Area is a 501(c)3 Nonprofit applying art & technology to create positive social impact. #grayareaorg #creativecode