Meet SIGGRAPH 2017 Studio Chair Brittany Ransom

Brittany Ransom is the SIGGRAPH 2017 Studio Chair and an artist and professor currently living in Long Beach, California. She sat down with SIGGRAPH recently to talk about the Studio and the projects she hopes will be shared during the call for submissions. The deadline to submit content to the Studio is 14 February 2017.

SIGGRAPH: Tell us a little about yourself. 

Brittany Ransom (BR): I have been involved with SIGGRAPH for about two and a half years. I got involved during graduate school. A group of my friends, who served as student volunteers, introduced me to the conference. My involvement grew when a colleague from Dallas, SIGGRAPH 2016 Conference Chair Mona Kasra, initiated conversations about volunteering. After attending SIGGRAPH 2015, I was selected as the 2017 Studio chair and started shadowing 2016’s chair to better understand the Studio planning process and prepare to take the lead for that program in 2017.

In my day-to-day life, I am the Assistant Professor of Sculpture New Genres at California State University Long Beach. We have one of the largest art programs on the West Coast and I specialize in teaching both undergraduate and graduate students digital fabrication techniques in 3D scanning, 3D printing, laser cutting, and CNC milling. I also specialize in electronics and kinetics, and teach basic circuit design and coding for creating interactive and responsive sculptures.

SIGGRAPH: What is your vision for the upcoming Studio?

BR: My vision for Studio is to continue to encourage a hands-on collaborative space where attendees are able to gain a sense of tactility with digital tools. This year we are hoping to bring in some new and exciting desktop 3D printers and interactive electronics as well as bringing back some other favorite content and hands-on stations.

This year’s theme is Cyborg Self: Extensions, Adaptations, and Integrations of Technology Within the Body. The idea of Cyborg are extensions, integrations, and adaptations of technology within the body. As wireless technologies become more accessible and digital fabrication techniques continue to become accessible on our home desktops, our ability to integrate technological platforms and designs into our lives becomes ever more present.

People are now able to print at home, create their own complex microcircuits, and create apps and tools that ultimately change the way that our bodies can experience space. Sometimes these designs are for medical reasons, perhaps practical, or even for fun. Ultimately, technology is changing the architecture of our bodies and how we can experience space, log data, and engineer ourselves to have mediated interactions with our environment.

The idea of Studio this year is that people will come in and make wearable devices. Attendees will be able to take these ideas and think about how to print at home and create their own complex micro circuits, apps, and tools that change the way our bodies experience space.

SIGGRAPH: What are some other new ideas you are bringing to the Studio program?

BR: My ideas for the Studio are not necessarily new, rather, I am trying to re-invigorate the notions of tactility and hands-on participation with innovative tools for attendees. Overall, I hope attendees leave feeling empowered to continue tinkering, making, engineering, and experimenting well beyond their experience at SIGGRAPH and I hope that Studio operates as a platform for attendees to feel empowered to continue exploring how to integrate these technological platforms into everyday engagements. From the theme, I am hoping attendees will think about about how technology sits in their everyday lives and what is possible in terms of engineering devices to make things either easier, better, or more interesting.

SIGGRAPH: Why is the Studio integral to the SIGGRAPH experience?

BR: The Studio is integral to SIGGRAPH because it offers a space for hands-on experience that puts innovative technologies directly into the hands of attendees. When I think of the term “Experience Hall,” I think the Studio is really impactful because you can come for a day then come back later, you can start a project and pick it back up the next day. I think it is very important to have direct, tactile, hands-on access and to be able to play and experiment with new technologies. It creates an inviting space for people to get first-time, hands-on experience with a lot of tools. In the Studio, attendees can walk away with something that they created themselves — it creates a place for extended exploration, innovation, and play.

In addition, hands-on workshops really are an important part of the Studio in terms of giving attendees a place to start. The Studio Workshops, for me, have also become a really important lead-in for attendees to learn anything from the basics to more advanced methods. These really become the first foot through the door in interacting in a way that is critical and teaches you how to design specific things. Whether that’s something that exists in 3D or virtual space, or you print it and it becomes real. Studio Workshops are great for teaching attendees to think beyond the first notions of what these tools and equipment within Studio really do.

SIGGRAPH: Pitch the upcoming Studio experience in 140 characters or less.

BR: Become a cyborg by creating your own innovative wearables in the #SIGGRAPH2017 Studio! Explore 3D printing, modeling, scanning,circuits + more.

Be a part of the Studio at SIGGRAPH 2017. Submit your content today!

Brittany Ransom is the recipient of numerous awards and grants including the competitive Workshop Residence Artist in Residence (San Francisco, 2016), Sci Arts Bridge Program Residency (2016), Arctic Circle Research Residency (2014), University Research council and and the prestigious College Art Association Professional Development Fellowship (2011). Ransom has shown internationally and nationally and has been featured in numerous publications. Her most recent work has been exhibited in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Dallas with an upcoming exhibition in Berlin. Ransom received her Master of Fine Arts Degree in Electronic Visualization from the University of Illinois at Chicago and her Bachelor of Fine Arts from The Ohio State University with a concentration in Art and Technology. Ransom is currently serving as the Assistant Professor of Sculpture + New Genres at California State University Long Beach. As a member of the faculty of the College of The Arts, she works within the sculpture area and specializes in 3D computerized production / digital fabrication and physical computing / kinetics. Prior to living in Long Beach, California, Ransom was the Assistant Professor of Digital / Hybrid Media at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas for three years, Ransom has also lived and worked in Chicago and Columbus, Ohio. Ransom was born and raised in the small city of Lima, Ohio.

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