Spring 2023 Write Up

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Introduction

The Media & Gaming Lab in the Department of Communication & Journalism at Texas A&M University is excited to share with you all our activities and collaborations from Spring 2023. We worked on student projects, collaborated across the university with amazing folks in the Department of Performance Studies, and offered two conferences to the community, including one that showcased the Data Justice Lab’s aim “to address the role of data sciences in social issues in various domains such as health, education, built environments, crisis management, and finance.” (https://www.datajustice.tamids.tamu.edu). The Media & Gaming Lab is a community of folks with various interests that come together to create art and knowledge that encourages and supports students, faculty, and staff at the university and in the BCS community. Join us!

William Connor & Matthew Cambell

At the beginning of the spring semester William Connor Ph.D. contacted joey about some possible collaborations (which you will see below), within days they hit it off and William introduced joey to Matthew Campbell Ph.D. Dr. Connor and Dr. Campbell are professor in the music department. Dr. Connor specializes in the Music Ethnology, audio engineering and all things gothic. Dr. Campbell is a media studies specialist, his work spans from popular culture to being a music technologist looking at machine learning, artificial intelligence and he has an affinity for studying mix tape culture and other medium cultural phenomenon.

Together they are sponsoring the FM student organization, which joey got to check out first hang when Zoe visited. It is a great group we hope to collaborate with in the future.

Dr. Campbell also sponsors the Album of the Week club, it is an amazing group where students (typically 40-60) meet up each week and listen to an album and then discuss it. Joey was able to attend one of the meet ups and said it was amazing.

We are so excited to have Dr. Connor and Dr. Campbell as part of our group, they have attended so many events and meet ups of ours, their support has been invaluable. We cannot thank them enough for all their support!

Activities & Weekly Meet Ups

“Dog Love” Short Video Shoot

Rick Pulos brought his dog, Muffin (a.k.a. Scout), in for an impromptu video shoot. The Media & Gaming Lab worked collaboratively to come up with a simple story. Lab member Ananya stars along with Muffin. Muffin sits peacefully atop the stairs of Bolton Hall until Ananya approaches with a guitar in hand. As Ananya serenades her, Muffin is frightened away. Later, they reconnect and become BFFs. Alazar filmed and edited the short film. Below is a “ruff” cut of the video.

The Media & Gaming Lab faciltates Graduate Student Rick Pulos on his Documentary

PhD student Rick Pulos started filming his episodic documentary Once Upon a Time in Community Theatre in February. His film focussed on The Theatre Company of Bryan-College Station (https://www.theatrecompany.com) where he serves on the Board of Directors. The Media & Gaming Lab facilitated Rick’s production by loaning him key film equipment including a camera, lighting kit, and a professional level tripod. In addition, the Lab coordinated with Rick to help film a dress rehearsal of the production of the Tony winning musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. Dr. Joey, Professor Guajardo, graduate student Nate Car, undergraduate students Sophie Villarreal, Zayno Rayne, Kali Johnson, and Faelen took pictures and operated cameras to cover the performance. The documentary is still in production but below are some behind the scenes video and images.

Musical by Robert L. Freedman

Zayno Film Noir

The amazing and talented Zayno (a.k.a The Pumpkin King), an undergraduate in the School of Public Health, had a vibrant vision of a film noir series of music videos and the Media & Gaming Lab jumped right in to collaborate with him and his creative team. Zayno, along with Media & Gaming Lab member Alazar A as the co-director, cinematographer, and editor, brought us together in downtown Bryan at The Village Cafe for an evening of filming. Graduate student Rick Pulos secured the location from a contact through The Theatre Company (TTC) and also borrowed masks for the film shoot from TTC. The legend known as Scruffy D. McLightning made a guest appearance! The music is by Zayno and he and Alazar will continue to produce the short film noirs in the future. Below is an image of Media & Gaming Lab students all dressed up in costume after the film shoot at The Village Cafe. Photo by Joey Lopez.

From left to right: Rick Pulos, Falen, Ananya Amar, The Pumpkin King, Scruffy D. McLightning (a.k.a. Johnny Guajardo), Katie, Keldan, Alazar A., and Grace Barr.

Check out Film Noir [Unto the Nyte Kingdom] by Zayno now!

Kaye Cruz Visit

Kaye Cruz paid us a visit this semester and delivered some great story telling tips, the current media landscape of traditional and new media spaces. His work always inspires all who attend his talks. Thank you Kaye for coming and giving some great lectures!

Exploring AI & Data Science‚Äôs Impact on Society:  A Social Justice Perspective

Joey and Dr. Lu Tang along with the Texas A&M Institute of Data Science collaborated on this symposiums that was held on March 3. The symposium featured speakers from academia, government, and nonprofit sectors discussing the ethical and social implications of data science and AI. Topics covered included ontological models of culture, race, and ethnicity in health data, media bias analysis, visual misinformation, hardware and data justice, and public health data analysis.

Joey’s sister Dr. Tina Lopez delivered an amazing talk on using public health data to understand and research issues of health inequality. Dr. Yunkang Yang was also a presenter. Many graduate and undergraduate students attended the all day symposium!  

Artist Zoe Nowak Visits Texas A&M

From March 25th to April 2nd Artist Zoe Nowak visited Texas A&M giving workshops, interviews and ended with a night of performances along with students of the Texas A&M School of Performance, Visualization and Fine Art. The visit was conceived and facilitated by Dr. William Connor, a Texas-based scholar and percussionist and a new faculty member in the School of The School of Performance, Visualization and Fine Arts. Zoe performs electronic in a wide array of spaces using hardware interfaces that allow her to integrate with other performers through tape looping, sequencing and live electronic performance. Zoe’s live performance was a collaboration with faculty and students and included a dance performance choreographed by Professor Ben Howard. In addition, students from the Department of Visualization created media that was projected onto a large screen during the performance.

On March 27th, Zoe Nowak met with the Media & Gaming Lab for an interview and then discussion. Rick Pulos of the Media & Gaming Lab volunteered to head up the weeks worth of on location shooting. For the interview, Rick produced and shot the video and Rolf Rydahl was the boom operator. Director of the media lab, joey, interviewed Zoe Nowak. Media & Gaming members Nate Carr, Latifah Adesina, and Ananya Amar, among others were involved with the capture of video and photos from Zoe’s live perfomances. Below are some behind the seem images from the week. For more information visit: https://www.thecmcollective.org/artist-zoe-nowak-visits-texas-am/

Texas Music and Movie Making Conference 2023

Conceived and implemented by students, the Music & Movie Making in Texas Conference 2023 was held on April 15th, 2023 at the Liberal Arts and Humanities building located at Texas A&M in College Station, TX. The conference had over 60 attendees and was lived streamed. The concept of the conference was to bring regional talents ranging from students, faculty and industry together to discuss music and movie making in Texas. The efforts by the students resulted in 5 panels and two open ended spaces, one about video streaming and the other a noise music studio where attendees were able to have hands on experience throughout the conference. Check out the full write up here: https://www.thecmcollective.org/music-movie-making-in-texas-conference-2023/.

End of Semester BBQ

As is a tradition started last year, we hosted an end of semester BBQ. It was a good time and it’s always great to build community. One student came by and wanted to learn to cook Fajita’s so we handed the grill over and next thing they knew they had made a great skirt steak for some tacos!

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