Students and staff adapt Open Studios showcase to 3D experience art

Instead of sharing their work in person, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts students are showcasing their work inside a 3D virtual model of the Johnny Carson Center.

On Friday, the center will host its first virtual Open Studios. Open Studios is an event that’s open to the public in which students display the art they’ve been working on that semester. 

Ben Kreimer, visiting creative technologist in residence, and assistant professors Ash Smith and Jesse Fleming said the school had to turn limitations caused by the coronavirus into opportunities for creative execution. Fleming, Kreimer and Smith said Mozilla Hubs and its 3D environment enables interaction and conversation between people in a more natural way than on other 2D communication platforms like Zoom. 

“In Hubs, you can go up to someone and start a conversation like you would if you were in the Carson Center on campus,” Fleming, Kreimer and Smith said in an email. “This kind of interaction and conversation is at the heart of Open Studios.”

Aliya Sime, freshman emerging media arts major, said each student had to make their own individual virtual room to display their art in and then transfer it onto Mozilla Hubs. Sime said once it was put in Mozilla Hubs, students could pin their work up by importing files, like 3D models, from their computers. Sime said all the students had their own different stories and artifacts to display. 

“None of the students were familiar with doing an Open Studios virtually, so we all had the challenges of learning how to do it online, like learning how to display our work and having it stay in the place that we wanted it to,” Sime said. 

Fleming, Kreimer and Smith said having a virtual Open Studios event is a good exercise for students because they will have to be well-versed in finding inspiration with every challenge they face as artists. 

In this case, Fleming, Kreimer and Smith said the student’s challenge was going from a physical space for an event to a virtual one. Sime said in emerging arts, new technology is always being introduced, so it was a helpful learning process to do an alternative way of an Open Studios expedition instead of the ‘old-fashioned’ way. 

Fleming, Kreimer and Smith said the Open Studios being virtual gives the opportunity for people all around the world to see the Johnny Carson Center and be able to interact with the students and see their work. 

“We would like to acknowledge the tenacious achievements of our students, especially during particularly challenging circumstances and the brilliant collaborative spirit of all of our community at the Carson Center who came together to make sure this event continued to succeed.”