Project Type: Animation, Film & Video

Symmetry Photo by YJ Yang

Dan Shiffman's Big Screens class is by far the most high-profile and in-demand course at ITP. The idea is that you're given one semester — less than three full months — to create a 3~4-minute video piece designed to be showcased on the 120-foot video wall at the IAC Headquarters in Chelsea. The class premiered 5 years ago and is only offered during the fall semester, and because of ITP's rather complicated scheduling process, only about 16~20 second-year students can get into the class. Nearly every second-year students puts themselves into the lottery to get one of those coveted spots.

I was one of the few who didn't even try to get in, not because I was not interested in the course, but because when I attended the 2010 Big Screens show, I realized that the most successful pieces were the ones that featured performative elements, and I'm no performer. In a sense, I realized that it was less about the number of pixels and more about the venue and the audience — which was too bad for me, since the technical challenges of designing for such a large screen did appeal to me. Still, I felt that others could make much better use of that venue. Among them, my classmate Sukmo Koo is very much a performer, and he did get into the class.

This year, Shiffman decided that he wanted everyone to work in groups — quite a shift in paradigm, since Big Screens had previously featured mostly solo projects. Koo had already developed a concept for his piece, but he did not manage to find someone who shared his vision by the time the sign-up deadline for the class came and went. However, Shiffman urged Koo to find a collaborator regardless, and because of our previous work on Ink Effusion, he approached me, and inspired by his idea to focus on bringing the audience together and having them interact with our piece live, I agreed.

What resulted was by far the best artistic collaboration I have ever experienced in my life. It was completely organic — there wasn't a clear delineation of roles from the beginning, and I didn't expect that our contribution to the piece would be truly 50/50 when we started out, but things evolved in that way naturally. Koo was the producer and director — the one with the initial vision, who gathered actors, and the designer and programmer of the physical installation and live interactive elements. I focused on the visuals, shooting and editing the video, and compiling and styling all of our footage in AfterEffects. It was a crazy 2 months, and it's hard to believe I put so much time and energy into a project for a class I wasn't even enrolled in (I was still taking a full courseload on the side), but it wound up becoming one of the defining moments of my ITP experience.

Our resulting piece, "Symmetry", was showcased at the IAC Headquarters during the 2011 Big Screens show on December 2nd.

We're still working on compiling the video documentation (we have footage from 5 different cameras so the editing process is no minor task), but hopefully that will be coming soon!