Creation Stories: A Journey in Pixels

When students in Greg Carter’s Art+Design Illustration 480 class completed their final projects, little did they know that their work, called “Creation Stories,” would be displayed on the Hunt Library’s video walls and that they’d participate in a program to discuss their projects, their creative processes, and how their illustrations looked on the walls versus the printed page.

 

How It Got Started

When I first came across the book Creation Stories, a compilation of the final projects of Greg Carter’s Art+Design 480 class, I was captivated! Each student’s visual project tells the story of the genesis of something, from guacamole (yes, guacamole!) to the jackalope's antlers. The stories are unique, beautiful, and clearly embody the design and creative aesthetic of their student creators. I wanted to see that work on our large video walls. Not only would it be visually interesting, but it would be a great way to showcase student work.

What Happened

Greg Carter, librarian Mike Nutt, and I met in the summer of 2014 to discuss the possibility of putting Creation Stories on the Hunt Library video walls. Greg was enthusiastic but realized that he would have to lay out the stories for the walls himself because of the timing (it was the summer and his students were not available; some of them had even graduated). After consulting with Mike about how to design for the walls and which pieces would look best on which walls, he spent a few weeks with the files.

In September of 2014, we debuted the work on the video walls. On the night of the premiere, we invited students whose work was represented to come and talk about their pieces in a program called, “Creation Stories: A Journey in Pixels.” Many of the students had not looked at their work since the class had ended, and none of them had seen their work at this enormous scale, presented in saturated digital color and many, many pixels.

The work was showcased on three different walls -- the Art Wall, the Immersion Theater, and the Commons Wall. As the attendees and creators moved throughout the library to look at the work, the students talked about their creation story, the genesis of the idea, the feedback they had received from Greg Carter as they worked on the pieces, and their impressions of how the pieces looked on the walls versus the printed page.

One of the exciting and new aspects of this presentation is that it was “veejayed” live by Mike Nutt. Mike was able to advance the stories on each wall similar to the way PowerPoint slides would advance. Thanks to Scott Williams of the NCSU Libraries’ IT staff, this capability had just been introduced the prior week, and it gave us the ability to advance the art as the students talked about each piece, instead of being pre-programmed or looped.

How It Went

The event was successful on two levels. First, the work itself looked incredible on the video walls. Ranging from whimsical to lyrical, from comic to serious, the stories were visually arresting when shown on the walls.

Secondly, the program provided a novel opportunity for students to see and think about how their work as artists might be repurposed in a different medium. Attendees got to interact with the student artists and ask them questions, and the event was attended by several faculty from the College of Design who were able to see first-hand how College of Design content might have a place in the Hunt Library. 

The project has had a cascading effect: In current and future iterations of his class, Greg Carter will incorporate designing projects for the walls as part of the students’ projects. This gives his students the unique capability to think about designing for high-tech spaces, and prompts them to consider issues of scale, line, color, opacity, and other design factors on the visual impact they desire.  "I want to start by thanking Marian Fragola and Mike Nutt, first for having the vision to see the opportunities this venue could afford NSCU students, and second, for making this a unique cross-disciplinary project that these students will remember forever," said Greg Carter after the event. 

For our part, the NCSU Libraries gets the chance to display student work in an unexpected way, providing visibility to these projects that otherwise would be seen by a limited audience.