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Ruffner Draws On Cornish Expertise For Augmented Reality

This year’s Consilience Event at the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) features artist Ginny Ruffner. In 2015, Ruffner was invited into the Design classroom at Cornish Cornish College of the Arts to learn alongside our students, new tools and techniques she is using in the creation of her exciting augmented reality projects The result was a fruitful creative and technical learning as well as mentoring exchange.

Artist Ginny Ruffner’s interactive augmented reality installation Poetic Hybrids had some assistance from Cornish College of the Arts’ faculty, alumni, and students. The work has been showcased at the Seattle Art Museum, “9 Evenings: Theater and Engineering” exhibition at King Street Station, and it will be again on May 19, at Consillience, at the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB), a free, public event put together by Allison Kudla, Senior Communications who directs the Consilience program at ISB. Before venturing into augmented reality, Ruffner had worked in a variety of media including metal sculptures, glass sculptures, paintings, and pop-up books. Her public artwork, Urban Garden, is a giant kinetic sculpture at the corner of 7th and Union St in Seattle.

In Poetic Hybrids, holographic sculptures are created using inspirational words drawn from more than 20 research scientists and modified by participants. Both performative and interactive, the result makes "the concepts of genetic modification, augmented reality, and sophisticated 3D modeling accessible enough for a child to enjoy it," according to GeekWire.

Ruffner’s visualization and facilitation team for Poetic Hybrids includes Cornish Design alumnus Grant Kirkpatrick '15, artists Dorit Ely, Ray Freeman and Rhonda Sable, current Art student Hyatt Johnson, and Creative Corridor Chair Genevieve Tremblay.

“Cornish is fast becoming a hub for interdisciplinary minded artists interested in creating virtual, augmented and mixed reality experiences,” said Tremblay. Two years ago, the Design Department invited Ginny Ruffner to audit the Interactive Virtual Environments (VR/AR) class taught by Jeff Brice, Chair of Design. Through this learning engagement at Cornish, she has rapidly acquired new digital tools and techniques alongside Cornish students. Her involvement in these advanced digital media classes led to her hiring Kirkpatrick, a recent Design graduate, as a 3D tutor. They have collaborated on augmented pieces for RIFFS: A Residency and Works in Progress exhibition at Photographic Center Northwest in 2016 and are also working on a new augmented reality installation for the Tacoma Museum of Glass. “This exchange of teaching and learning has blossomed into an exciting creative collaboration…with the learning moving both in and out of Cornish, and back and forth between student and mentor,” said Tremblay.

“The involvement of Cornish College of the Arts in the Poetic Hybrids exhibit at ISB celebrates our now two-year Consilience partnership which is aimed at bringing about more interdisciplinary engagement and research across science, technology, art, design, and communications,” said Tremblay.

The goal of the annual Consilience event is to enrich the culture of ISB, and its affiliated networks, by featuring professionals who break barriers and work at the intersections of the humanities and sciences. Cross-disciplinary scholars foster dialogue around complex topics in science and offer a different and valuable perspective from which to view scientific research.

This year's Consilience event focuses on "Integrating Diverse Approaches to Communicating the Complexities of Science.” Featured speakers will be Dan Goods and David Delgado from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Afroditi Psarra from University of Washington. ISB co-founder Dr. Lee Hood will give opening remarks.

"Integrating Diverse Approaches to Communicating the Complexities of Science” on May 19 is open to the public. Registration is free through the ISB website.