Media without Media

September 19, 2012

By Tim Durfee, MDP Core Faculty. These selections from recent MFA thesis work in the Lab Track are unified by what appears to be an emerging interest in non-digital work created in order to examine the effects of the digital.

By effects of the digital, I mean the ways in which the ubiquitous and commonplace presence of computation and digital communication continues to alter us – in our sensory perceptions, in our relationship to the causality of the physical world, and in our social behaviors and understanding of public and private space.

In some cases, the avoidance of media in “media” work is a technique to make explicit qualities which – for media – are inherently implicit. This is similar to T.S. Eliot’s idea of the ‘objective correlative’ in literature, where objects or events appear in writing to invoke complex mental states – not through the use of poetic language to describe the state of mind – but by creating the sensation itself in the frame of mind in the reader.

For other work, the effects of the digital have so altered our fundamental perceptions of the world – sensory, social, spatial – that a whole range of topics are seen as revived subjects for engagement. For this work, the authors are specifically aware that making a tangible thing a certain way and in a certain context holds different value and is understood differently when made today – rather than thirty, twenty, or even ten years ago.


Feedback Occurrences 
Ricardo Buddy Bojorquez / The Rare Studio
Thesis Committee: Tim Durfee (lead), Garnet Hertz, Anne Burdick, Shannon Herbert

Feedback Occurrences uses standard materials, common techniques and everyday electronics to create an inventory of interactions. The staged events double as meditations on the poetic and the material. The interactions I create follow a simple rule in which I take objects designed with a single purpose, arrange them in different ways to give them new meaning. Through these interactions my aim is to create a space for people to experience the blending of these materials outside their known qualities. Within each object relationship a level of anticipation and surprise is introduced where the imagination can be leveraged. I am interested in creating works where your movement and thoughts ignite a process in which these staged events come to life. The following explorations are based on the definition of feedback as a reaction from one object to another object in equal measures.



Soft Publics 
Mike Manalo / The Rare Studio
Thesis Committee: Tim Durfee (lead), Molly Wright Steenson, Sean Donahue, Jennifer Krasinski

According to current Los Angeles Municipal Codes, any registered hitched trailer is allowed to park on the street as long as it is attached to a registered motor vehicle with the State of California. Our purpose is to facilitate temporary sites for legally protected speech.

The system is made of three parts: a registered vehicle / a mobile panel system / a registered cargo trailer. The panels are a deployable system that essentially extend the legally-defined space of the parked vehicle, thereby enabling a range of temporary “edits” of the urban streetscape.

1. Visual Blockade is a physical screen to block a building’s visibility from the street or a specific form of advertisement along the streetscape.

2. Shelter for Occupation can be for a variety of uses. It can house a small demonstration or be a small pop-up park for a neighborhood that is devoid of public space for leisure and play.

3. Alternate Wayfinding is a mode that redirects pedestrian or street traffic with iconography. This is one of the specific modes that re-negotiates how the right of way is used and defined.

4. Virtual ‘White-Out’ triggers through QR Code white-out of a building or the phantom appearance of a proposed improvement. By using our smartphone app the panel system has a digital layer that extends a message beyond its physical structure.

5. Activator Mode is where the system creates a spectacle through the structure for people to gather. We recommend using this mode when creating a meeting point.

6. Re-territorializing is a mode where this space is filled with borders and boundaries for specific uses and functions. This mode helps build hierarchies or specific orders for groups wanting to use the space.



The Momentary
Mikey Tnasuttimonkol

Thesis committee:  Rob Ball, Tim Durfee (lead), Jennifer Krasinski, Molly Wright Steenson.

I have a personal and rich connection to the waves I ride. When the right elements come together, they create an amazing experience that cannot be duplicated. It is an experience that only my fellow surfers will understand and truly connect with. Having thirteen years of being obsessed with riding waves, the search for special momentary occurrences seeps into my every day life.

I am seeing spaces around my city, where momentary events occur naturally. I am looking at these spaces with a designer’s eye, designing devices that intervene, augment, and play with these momentary occurrences in and around the city of Los Angeles. These portable devices enable people to create for themselves otherwise difficult to find, ephemeral experiences.