Re-thinking higher education the focus of Carson Conversations Forum

Jeff Nicholas, the Director of VR Creative+Production at Live Nation, presents at the Carson Conversations Forum on May 20.
Jeff Nicholas, the Director of VR Creative+Production at Live Nation, presents at the Carson Conversations Forum on May 20.

Re-thinking higher education the focus of Carson Conversations Forum

calendar icon24 May 2017    

Lincoln, Neb.--The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts hosted a Carson Conversations Forum:  Emerging Media Trends on Saturday, May 20 in the Temple Building.

Twelve emerging media experts each gave a presentation on a number of topics about emerging media and re-thinking higher education as the University of Nebraska–Lincoln begins building the curriculum for the Carson Center.

“I’m really excited that all of you are now involved,” Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts Director Megan Elliott told the audience of about 160. “You put your hand up, you’re here today, you’re on our team. Thank you.”

The presenters included:

• Robert Tercek, one of the world’s most prolific creators of interactive content who recently served as president of digital media at OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, on the topic “The Future of Education.”

Tercek, who is the author of “Vaporized:  Solid Strategies for Success in a Dematerialized World,” discussed the dematerialization into software.

“Every time you use your smart phone, you vaporize something,” Tercek said, citing the examples of physical books, CDs/DVDs, maps and even the games industry and television.

He then added, “As goods become information-rich, they lose the characteristics of products and turn into services.” He urged the audience to consider the consequences of this for education, which is an information-rich industry.

Today’s students are used to having access to “whatever, whenever, wherever,” he said. Education needs to respond to this and cater to it.

• Norman Hollyn, the Michael Kahn Endowed Chair in Film Editing at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, on the topic of the Carson Foundation’s Challenge, which he titled “Dr. Strangeworld or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Future.”

Hollyn defined emerging media as “whatever is coming up now and next to help us tell our stories, in whatever form we want. We either create it or react to it.”

He urged flexibility in the Carson Center’s curriculum and teaching students to “learn to learn.”

• Erica Larsen-Dockray, an artist and adjunct faculty at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in the Film/Video School’s Experimental Animation program and co-founder of the Calibraska Arts Initiative, on the topic “The Student’s Journey in Emerging Media Arts.”

Larsen-Dockray traced her journey from growing up in rural Nebraska near Scottsbluff to becoming an emerging media artist. Her journey included studying graphic design at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

“I was frustrated that graphic design was all on the computer,” she said. “I wanted to paint and get messy.”

She urged the Carson Center to not only focus on educating students, but parents as well to let them know that being an artist is a viable career path.

“I hope the Center creates pioneers, not just cogs in the wheel,” Larsen-Dockray said.

• Brian LaDuca, an alumnus of the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film and creator of the IDA (Ideation-Disruption-Aha!) pedagogy for Applied Creative Learning at the University of Dayton, on the topic “The Development of a Pedagogy.”

He introduced Ikigai, a Japanese concept for finding the purpose or reason for being, which he used to create his new pedagogy at the University of Dayton.

“We can’t prepare for the future if we don’t know the jobs of the future,” he said.

• Tom Barker, an educator, researcher, consultant, strategist, designer, serial entrepreneur and maverick in architecture, art, technology and design for 25 years, on the topic “A Curriculum Roadmap.” Barker discussed the X-shaped designer who has skills in art, design, science and enterprise.

He encouraged the Carson Center to “do it all” in its curriculum, including skills, projects and theory.

• Sean Stewart, the creative director for Magic Leap, the world’s most highly funded startup, which recently raised $1.4 billion, on the topic “Storytelling and Creative Technologies.” Stewart began his career as a science fiction writer. In 2001, he was the lead writer in an alternate reality game created for the film, “A.I.”

He said there is a different ownership of art today. J.K. Rowling, for example, wrote 717,020 words in the first five Harry Potter novels. Fans writing on have written 765,000 words on Harry Potter. Rowling has written less than one percent of Harry Potter material and less than 50% of what has been read.

“She doesn’t own it in the same way we used to own things as artists,” Stewart said.

• Susan Bonds, the co-founder and CEO of 42 Entertainment, leading the innovation evolution from alternate reality games to deeply immersive entertainment experiences that engage millions of people worldwide, on the topic “The Future Requirements of an Emerging Media Arts.”

She said, “today’s audiences are looking for experiences. Goods and services are no longer enough.”

Bonds worked as a creative director/senior show producer at Walt Disney Imagineering, where she developed the attractions Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland and Mission: SPACE at Epcot Center.

“We need the Carson Center to turn out experience designers,” she said.

• Jeff Nicholas, the Director of VR Creative + Production at Live Nation, on the topic “Cross-disciplinary Team Work and Creative Problem Solving.”

He discussed the need for Carson Center students to be creative.

“The best ideas don’t come from staring at a computer screen,” he said. “We have to give students ample room to be creative, but in an academic setting, that looks a lot like goofing off.”

• Steve Cooper, Executive Director of the Jeffrey S. Raikes School of Computer Science and Management at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, on the topic “Creative Coding and Campus Collaboration.”

The Raikes School is an undergraduate honors school, which combines computer science and business. He discussed their Design Studio, where students complete year-long capstone projects as juniors and repeat it as seniors.

He described creative coding as “a type of computer programming where the goal is to create something expressive instead of something functional.”

• Kyle Murphy, Vice President of Design at Hudl, on the topic of “Entrepreneurship.” Hudl designs technology to provide coaches, analysts and athletes with the insight to improve and is based in Lincoln, but has 500 employees in 14 countries. The founders were classmates in the Raikes School.

Murphy said every employee at Hudl does customer service and is exposed to a sales environment to understand what the customers want.

• Charles Wang, the Deputy Director of the newly established Advanced Innovation Center for Future Visual Entertainment (AICFVE) at the Beijing Film Academy, on the topic “International Outreach.”

The Beijing Film Academy has more than 3,000 students. The vision for the AICFVE is that “art inspires science, and science drives art.” Wang said the “interface between creative people and technology people is very important.”

• and Roy Taylor, corporate vice president and head of Alliances, Content and VR at Radeon Technologies Group AMD, on the topic “GPU=EMA.”

Taylor said “VR is both a platform and an art form. The marriage between technology and art must be carefully entwined.”

There are opportunities in emerging media to both take advantage of the visual complexity and to create more advanced audio.

He told the audience, “There’s never a better time for innovation. Embrace the disruption.”

The Carson Conversations Forum kicked off a two-day workshop where faculty and other invited guests began discussing the future of the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts.

The Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts will be focused on interdisciplinary learning, creativity and research in emerging media located within the Johnny Carson School for Theatre and Film at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

The internationally distinct program in emerging media arts will explore the boundaries of where cinematic narrative and storytelling intersects with science, the humanities, computer science, engineering, music, fine arts and other disciplines. The Center will be located at 1300 Q St. and is scheduled to open in the fall of 2019.