Photo by Lexie Boren.

New digital art professor turns tables in department

The new Assistant Professor of Art and Studio Head of Digital Media at Lewis & Clark, Brian House, comes from a background of both technology and art. He is a new media artist with a doctorate in computer music and multimedia, whose projects have included the recording of rat voices under New York City, and public spaces in which light bulbs automatically tweeted overheard conversations. 

At LC, House is teaching a course titled Digital Media, where students use creative coding to make visual and auditory art, as well as physical manifestations of this art such as 3D printed objects. 

“We’re learning to code, but maybe from a slightly different perspective than learning to code in the computer science department, which is also great. But here the focus is on making visual art and sound, and then 3D printing and things like that. So they’re more expressive uses of code.”

House described his goals of making the department a more collaborative, multi-disciplinary space for creativity through technology. 

“I’d like to see this space grow into more of a maker lab-type of space,” House said. “So we’re going to work together with IT and hopefully have some resources in here, some 3D printers, etcetera. I hope this can become a hacker space where people come in and are working on projects, whether or not they’re in the courses.”

House’s own art focuses on the intersections of technology and the material world, often incorporating sound. One of his projects involved the use of location tracking on his phone for the duration of a year, resulting in a list of GPS coordinates.

“Using code, I translated the data into a musical composition, then I put it on a vinyl record, such that if you listen to one rotation of the record, that corresponds to one day of my time, of my life,” House said. “So if you listen to this piece you hear these patterns emerge, which are indicative of my patterns of everyday life. To me, this piece embodies a lot of what I’m interested in because I made it by coding, but I made a vinyl record, which is not high tech at all. And you experience it as sound, and a lot of my work is sound-based or performance based.”

As someone with a diverse background in areas including art, technology and the humanities, House was drawn to LC. 

“I like the fact that it’s a liberal arts college because there’s an inherent sense of being interdisciplinary, and of holistic learning,” House said. “As an artist, I don’t really stick with any particular style. I’m interested in working with scientists and I also have studied humanities, so I don’t necessarily see those things as a hard division.”

With his own unique mixture of code and art, House brings further diversity to the department.

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