About The Digital Media Lab, by Kimon Keramidas

When our new building at 38 West 86th Street opened it represented not only a physical expansion of the BGC, but also an expansion of our thinking about what the study of material culture entails and how we go about the process of that study. The Digital Media Lab was an important part of that expansion because it provided not only a physical space and resources for students and faculty to experiment with, but also signaled a shift in our consideration of how digital media might play a role in scholarship. As digital media continue to have a profound impact across society, academics are trying to negotiate how these new technologies will impact pedagogy, research, and scholarly communication. The lab gives us a place where we can experiment, innovate, and think deeply about how these new tools might help us approach the material world in new ways. What has been really exciting in this process has been the enthusiasm throughout the institution in embracing the role digital media can play in helping us to ask new questions and arrive at new answers. I would like to think that it has had a profound impact on the way students, faculty, and staff do their work.

You can’t however experiment without the proper tools, and we have tried to best equip the lab with powerful but accessible technology. The lab has eleven workstations equipped with a broad range of software for web design, graphic layout, database design, video and audio editing, online exhibitions, 3D virtualizations, and geolocation technology. To complement these workstations we have a number of mobile technologies including digital cameras, digital audio recorders, digital video cameras, iPods, iPads, and laptops. We have also recently purchased a 3D scanner so we can experiment translating the three dimensional nature and feel of our objects of study to the two dimensional digital realm. Ensuring that the lab is well equipped with an array of easy to use but robust tools is important so that student and faculty work is not limited by the capabilities of the technology available to them.

Some of the most important strides we have made in digital media at the BGC have been in our use of online resources to provide new platforms for the study of material culture. As interest in digital media has burgeoned at the BGC, we have responded to that interest through the introduction of a number of different online platforms that allow faculty and students to experiment with different solutions to their research needs. The main online tools we use are wikis, easily editable collaborative web sites used for courses and exhibition development; Omeka, a tool for collections management and digital exhibition design;  and  Prezi, a simple to use but powerful presentation and thought mapping tool. These tools have allowed our students and faculty to experiment with new ways of looking at thinking about and working on material culture, whether they are in the same classroom or on the other side of the world, and have served to augment well the very personal and focused course of study at the BGC.

These tools and platforms have allowed us to achieve a lot very quickly at the BGC. I have been surprised by the rate of integration and enthusiasm across the institution. The best part of watching this evolution has been the eagerness by students in particular to boldly brave the unfamiliar. By providing tools with a low barrier of entry and shallow learning curve and giving instruction through workshops and tutorials, we try to breed confidence in digital media so that students can take big leaps rather than small steps forward in their work. And we have been rewarded with some truly impressive work across a wide spectrum of digital media. With our first digital qualifying paper this semester and more big projects just over the horizon it is an exciting time in the DML.

Kimon Keramidas is assistant director for the Digital Media Lab and responsible for the development and implementation of digital media practices across academic programs at the BGC. He evaluates the software and hardware needs of the lab and works with faculty and students to effectively incorporate interactive technology into pedagogical practice and student projects. In addition, he also helps shape the digital aspects of the BGC's journal, monograph series, and focus gallery.  Kimon received his PhD in Theatre from the CUNY Graduate Center where he also received a certificate in Interactive Technology and Pedagogy. He has taught courses in interface design, new media, digital information fluency, theatre, and performance at the BGC, Marymount Manhattan College, the CUNY Online Baccalaureate, and the Cooper Union, and has been active in the CUNY Graduate Center's Interactive Technology and Pedagogy program in a number of different roles.  Kimon is currently working on developing his dissertation on intellectual property rights in theatrical production into a book.  His articles have appeared the journal Currents in Electronic Literacy and the collections Objects of Exchange: Social and Material Transformation on the Late Nineteenth Century Coast, (Aaron Glass, co-author) Theater und Medien: Theatre and the Media, and Studying the Event Film: The Lord of the Rings (Henry Bial and Ryan Reynolds, co-authors).

 


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