Week 0

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After a week of orientations and technical trainings, my head is reaching capacity on the idiosyncrasies of graduate student life. Who knew I wanted to laser cut, laminate, solder, and embroider until my hearts content. I am utterly exhausted, and I haven't even had my first class yet. Later today I'll get the 411 on our Electronics class where we'll be learning about micro-controllers and other physical computing devices.

Over the past week, I have been ruminating about the theoretical framework for my thesis and research objectives. Its been a challenge bouncing between thinking about my personal experiences as a queer WOC and about the more formal structures I'm interested in pursuing. 


I had an insightful conversation with Jennifer Gonzalez, a theorist here at UCSC and principal DANM faculty, who's research encompasses much of the work I am interested in: the representation of POC in installation art and in museum spaces. One thing is for sure -- I am interested in the built environment and making works where differing groups of people get to interact with each other (not just their screens.)

Jennifer gave the incoming DANM class some good tips for preparing our thesis projects. She suggested that we create a running list of old ideas & new ideas, as well as old skills and new skills. Below are 5 for each category.

Old skills

  • Digital photography
  • Video production (including post-production)
  • Documentary-style interviewing skills
  • Technical understanding of hardware
  • Interactive narrative design

New skills

  • GLSL programming (GPU optimized rendering)
  • Advanced TouchDesigner, maybe Unity?
  • Game design & play theory mechanics
  • Academic writing (maybe a PhD in the future)
  • New hardware: laser cutter, embroidery machine


  • Color theory and optics
  • Theoretical, particle physics
  • Sacred, euclidian geometry
  • Semiotics and meaning-making
  • Audience agency & participation
  • Human pattern recognition

New Ideas

  • Interactive Wunderkammer
  • Adult play and transformative experiences
  • Multi-project series at sacred sights
  • Anti-xenophobia, political compassion
  • Mestizaje, queerness and fluidity


Trying to organize my thoughts on my research has long been a challenge since I tend to interested in seemingly interconnected themes. Hopefully by blogging more I'll be able t better understand them myself, and to create work that either directly or indirectly references these ideas. Who knows!

Zoe Sandovalucsc, grad, mfa, themes