Fall 2023 Media & Gaming Lab Write Up

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Introduction

To say we had an action packed semester would be an understatement. We had a slew of activities going on within and beyond the lab. So many faculty, students and community members collaborated with the lab and have taken us on so many new trajectories and journeys. We cannot thank everyone who participated enough.

Fall 2023 Grant Projects

Lorefest 2023

Lorefest 2023 was a huge success with 3 nights of local lore programing performed by Dr. William Connor and Dr. Matthew Campbell’s students.  Held in downtown Bryan, Krisy of the Village Cafe and Vino Boheme and Misty of the Frame Gallery hosted Lorefest for the 3 evenings.  It was amazing to have their support.  In addition to their support we would like to thank the following sponsors:

  • TAMU Performance Visualization and Fine Arts
  • TAMU Institute of Data Science
  • TAMU Race, Ethnicity Studies Institute

You can check out a full write up here:  https://www.thecmcollective.org/lorefest-2023/

High Impact Instructional Innovation Grant – Sports Multimedia Skills

The High Impact Instructional Innovation Grant – Sports Multimedia Skills is a collaborative project headed by Professor Angelique Gammon to garner hands on sports broadcast skills.  Professor Jonathan Guajardo Professor Lopez would collaborate with Profesor Gammon to purchase, secure and use new video broadcast and digital narrative equipment.  Specifically in Professor Gammon’s journalism 359 Reporting Sports Professor Guajardo and Professor Lopez provided hands-on workshops with both Broadcast and Digital narrative equipment.  In addition to this experience, Professor Guajardo and Lopez provided a hands-on workshop with the podcasting studio recently setup by the Media & Gaming Lab.  The Media & Gaming Lab hope to continue with hands-on workshops with an emphasis on Sports Reporting.  We hope to bring Kaye Cruz to campus in the Spring to give hands-on workshops where the students gain interviewing and general narrative sports reporting skill sets.  

AVPA Grant – Afro Latinx Life and Writing

The Afro Latinx Life and Writing symposium was developed by Professor Regina Mills & graduate student AJ Baginski made possible by an AVPA Grant.  The Media & Gaming Lab’s role in the grant was to help provide documentation of the event and give support for the development of a website.  We were able to provide photos and videos of the event.  This spring the Media & Gaming Lab will help with any web development and assets needed to help finish the web documentation.   

Lab Projects/Events

Skateboard Art

At the beginning of the Fall semester joey pitched an idea of having local and student artists create Skateboard deck art.  Throughout the fall semester and going into the spring 2024 semester, joey has distributed boards out to interested artists.  The goal of the Skateboard deck art is to create an art show locally at the Vortex, a creative space in Bryan, TX where the TAMU Skaters, local skaters and art patrons will come together and celebrate skateboard culture and beyond.  Here is a sample of one deck created by Clayton Bever, a current A&M student.

Dia De Los Muertos Shoebox Altar

Held on October 23rd, the Dia De Los Muertos Shoebox Altar was hosted by joey and his wife Dr. Corina Zavala who gave a presentation on the history of Dia De Los Muertos.  joey then gave a presentation on building shoe box altars and the attendees created shoe box altars exuding their own lived realities and experiences.  The Media and Gaming Lab provided printing capabilities so that attendees would be able to size and print photos of their loved ones for their altar, the results were great and the event is something we plan to host yearly.

Music Recording Workshop

One of the student requests for the fall 2023 semester was to host music recording workshops.  Dr. William Connor offered to lead the workshops and over two weeks students learned about recordings in the classroom as well as in the studio getting hands-on experience with microphone techniques as well as the recording process.  

Podcast Studio

joey had made it a priority for the Media & Gaming Lab to begin podcasting, Professor Jonathan Guajardo volunteered to head up the effort and together they began building recruiting people to create podcasts and also learn technical skills.  A full write up of the effort can be round here:

Kang & Co – CSTAT Collage

Kang & Diego of the Media & Gaming Lab further developed content for CSTAT Collage focusing on a story about the student led Texas A&M Bonfire. Their work included multiple on site shoots, interviews and research about the history of the Texas A&M Bonfire. Stay tuned for their publication of the story on their youtube channel.

  • 2AM Productions
  • Guest Lectures

Media & Gaming Lab Member Projects/Accomplishments

Rick Pulos

Rick Pulos survived the last semester of coursework in the CMJR doctoral program! It was a super productive fall that included an exciting trip to see Madonna in concert in Antwerp, Belgium. During that trip, he collected data for use in an autoethnographic account of what being a diehard fan is really like. He also partnered with the Parks & Recreation Department of the City of College Station to conduct research at their senior community centers. He came into conversation with all sorts of older folks who take Line Dancing classes at the centers for exercising and socializing. As a PhD student, exploring potential avenues for his dissertation has gobbled up a lot of his focus but he also managed to create some new media centered works. On September 21 as part of the “Landscapes of Belonging” recital, he performed an excerpt from his longer autobiographical theatre piece Mixing Ingredients or How to Make an American by Checking Off Boxes. He took elements of that performance and incorporated it into a media piece entitled “The ABCs of Trying to Belong.” These are his ruminations on his failures and success throughout his life of trying to belong. Watch it at the link below. 

Rick also continued his work with The Theatre Company of Bryan-College Station. He took the footage he shot of every performance in 2023 and created a 15-minute video Celebration of the Season. It was shown on a huge scrim screen during the company’s 2024 season reveal party and it was unanimously loved by everyone in attendance. Check it out at the link below!

Zayno Rayne

Zayno Rayne has been a major contributor to the Media & Gaming Lab on multiple fronts.  This semester he played a major role in immersing the Media & Gaming Lab into the local music scene.  Zayno is now the talent scout for the Grand Stafford Theater, his work there has enabled all of the Media & Gaming Lab students and faculty the opportunity to be part of the local music scene, here is a full write up about it:

Synthposium Spring 2024

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On February 4th, 2024, the Texas A&M Media & Gaming Lab, along with faculty from the School of Performance Visualization and Fine Arts hosted Synthposium, an event which brought together local synthesizer enthusiasts, musicians, engineers and academics to discuss and explore the cultural and technical aspects of the art form.

Director of the Media & Gaming Lab, joey lopez, facilitated the Synthposium and developed its calling through multiple meetings with Media & Gaming Lab members.  The finalized ideation procured a one day event at local coffee shop, Tavo Coffee, which would include five presentations and a final performance.  Lia Stevenson, a representative of Synthrotek and a genius synthesizer electrical engineer in the making, also flew in from Moscow, Idaho to join us.  

The event was successful and well-attended, with roughly 40 participants coming to join in on the fun. Over the course of the event, even patrons of the coffee shop would wander into the space and begin interacting with the equipment, tinkering and playing with the sounds they created.  

The presentations themselves were enthralling and informative, with each one being aimed towards beginners and advanced users alike.  Each presenter would give a general overview of their work and then give in depth explanations of their processes. Event facilitator, joey lopez, also moderated a Q&A session and asked questions of the presenters to further add to the informative nature of the event.  

Presentation Recaps

David Kang & Diego Valle – David Kang presented his video synthesizer along with Diego Valle.  Both are students at Texas A&M and media makers.  They noted their use of Kang’s analog synthesizer to develop graphics for  their “gonzo journalism” project College Station Collage.  It was great watching them give a full demonstration of Kang’s custom built synthesizer and vintage composite media production gear. In addition to their presentation, Kang & Diego would provide visuals throughout the Synthposium and would perform with Lia Stevenson and William Conner, Ph.D. at the end of the conference.

Jeremy Zunker – Jeremy Zunker, an electrical engineer from Austin, gave a demonstration of multiple projects he has developed over the years, ranging from a custom designed DJ scratching device to a hardware implementation of beatbyte (on which Professor Morris would later give a demonstration). Jeremy also answered general questions about circuit design and the process of having boards made. He demonstrated this process by showing three versions of a prototype.  

Jeff Morris, Ph.D (website) – Jeff Morris Ph.D. is a Professor in the School of Performance, Visualization and Fine Arts. He presented on the software side of synthesizers, giving an in depth workshop on the web based implementation of Bytebeat and Pure Data (PD).  Professor Morris’s workshop further broke down the fundamentals of electronic music composition.  Audience members thanked Dr. Morris for his workshop and mentioned how it impacted their general understanding of music composition as well as the functions of their equipment.

William Connor, Ph.D. (website) – Will’s presentation was based around his Lovecraftian-themed Monstrous Synthesizer that has been a concept of his for over a decade and which he implemented and built over the last year.  Will would later present on the fundamentals of synthesizers by demonstrating his own build and explaining the process of how he designed and implemented his setup.  It complemented Professor Morris’ presentation well, venturing into the physical aspect of synthesizers.

Lia Stevenson (website) – Lia Stevenson is a Synthrotek employee and electrical engineering student at the University of Idaho, where she is studying electronics.  Her presentation consisted of giving a full walk through of synthesizers, aided with an awesome slide presentation with embedded videos of herself explaining basic terminology and components.  She also provided a great condensed history of the synthesizer as well. Her presentation amazed and informed the audience, and she also brought her own synthesizer and discussed a company she is starting based around eurorack components that she is building, one of which was an intricate and exemplary sequencer.  

Final Performance – The conclusion of the event was celebrated with a performance by Lia Stevens, William Connor, Kang, and Diego Valle. This final performance was well received by those in attendance and ended the event on a high note.

Special Thanks – We at the Media and Gaming Lab cannot thank everyone enough for their attendance and support. Tavo Coffee was an amazing host, and their customers were kind, curious, and gracious. Victor, of the Vortex, and crew came by and showed support and directly engaged with the presenters.  Again, thank you to the community for all the support!

Our goal is to continue holding local synthesizer meet ups and develop a scene for performances and workshops to continue throughout the calendar year.

Photo Gallery

Lorefest 2023

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Introduction

Conceived by Professor Matthew Campbell and William Connor of the Texas A&M School of Performing, Visualization, and Fine Arts, Lorefest 2023 was pitched as a Fall performance event that would:

“The first annual Lorefest will bring together students, faculty and visiting artists for a weekend of spooky storytelling. Featuring “B” movies, puppets, red carpet monsters, and an historical ghost walk, the festival will immerse visitors in creative presentations centering stories drawn from local folklore.”

-Lorefest Team

Professor joey of the Media & Gaming Lab would join their team to help with documentation and planning. Together the team would apply for multiple grants and funding, securing grants and funding from:

  • TAMU Performance Visualization and Fine Arts
  • TAMU Institute of Data Science
  • TAMU Race, Ethnicity Studies Institute

Lorefest Events

Thursday

Story Telling Sessions – Frame Gallery

The Story Telling Sessions was held at the Frame Gallery in Downtown Bryan, a frame shop and gallery that also hosts art happenings. We cannot thank the Frame Gallery enough for all their help and accommodations. The story telling was performed by PERF 301 students in both Professor Connor and Campbells sections. Additional support with puppetry was by guest artist Victoria Snaith, who hosted puppetry workshops with students. The puppets were then integrated into the story telling pieces and also featured during the Saturday event. The stories themselves were developed by the students with the facilitation of Professor Campbell and Connor providing prompts for them to spring board from, as well as letting the students choose their own stories. The students then conducted ethnographic interviews for their stories in order to obtain further insight into them. The stories could be regional or from their own places they call home. The results were amazing and very entertaining, while informative about various cultures.

Friday

Film Festival – The Village Cafe Downtown

The Film Festival was slated to take place at the Queen Theater, but once it was discovered our crowd was much larger than their capacity, we were very lucky to have Kristy, the owner of the Village Cafe Downtown facilitate us in her space. The results were amazing with student’s films being exhibited along with live music accompaniment. The films featured included works from guest film maker Shun Lee Fong, Aggie SWAMP Club, and PERF301 students from both Professor Connor and Campbell sections. In addition to the films featured, live musical accompaniment was composed and performed by the PERF 318 electronic composition music class, taught by Professor Connor.

Saturday

Ghost Walk, Gala & Puppetry

Held at the Village Cafe and Vino Boheme, Saturday’s festivities included a Gala with a student cultural food event, movie screenings, puppetry theatre, guided Ghost Walk and Puppetry Parade. The food event was integrated into the PERF301 courses where students pitched and brought various dishes with cultural contextualization for attendees to enjoy. The Ghost Walk was developed in the PERF301 courses by teams of students who would develop a ghost story based off prompts or their own ideas and then perform the story on locations throughout downtown Bryan. The attendees would then go on a docent led Ghost Walk hosted by Victoria Snaith. Film screens and puppetry were also included in the nights festivities, again developed by students in the PERF301 sections Professors Connor & Campbell teach. Lastly a Puppetry Parade was performed. guest puppetry maker Victoria Snaith and students who created puppets paraded their creations throughout the space.

Conclusion & Take Aways

Lorefest 2023 was a huge success and it wouldn’t have been possible with so many different points of support, Kristy of the Village Cafe, Missy of the Frame Gallery, Dr. Connor and Dr. Campbell for putting envisioning the event, the production crew of PVFA (Jeff Watson and Jam Martinez) and the Media & Gaming Lab crew, plus all the students who put their heart and soul into their projects and production.

Lorefest Website

Stay tuned for the full project documentation on the official Lorefest website that will document all the projects, their origins and much more through text, photo, video and mapping. This website is something we hope to reach the general academic and lore enthusiast communities alike.