Rainbow Hat

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Fake news and real kids

Kids today are growing up in a confusing landscape of digital media. Websites we use every day collect our data and attempt to sell us the latest stuff. National attention can be diverted by a tweet. Ads look like news stories, news looks like advertisement, and research shows that kids have trouble spotting the difference. Old lessons about how to critically analyze media have not kept pace with technology. We need digital media literacy.


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a hackerspace for digital media literacy

Rainbow Hat will be a pop-up hackerspace located at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Visitors will be asked to "wear a rainbow hat", thinking critically about digital media in a colorful variety of ways and producing digital media of their own using a spectrum of technologies. The name is a derivative of "white hats" and "black hats," hackers who use technology for good or bad. Instead, we will invite visitors to see technology with nuance and explore how it can be used for a variety of purposes, including artistic expression. The hackerspace will be stocked with digital and traditional tools and materials that visitors can use in open-ended design challenges. Visitors will be able to publicly display and learn from each other's work in a museum setting.


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A rainbow hat of your own

The titular story arc will have visitors make a rainbow hat of their own as a physical reminder to think critically about digital media. Hat-makers will experience a design prototyping process, use digital fabrication and embedded electronics to bring their design to life, and model their wearable technology on a runway. Supplementary activities will explore the importance of algorithms, in this case the specific instructions telling a machine or person how to create an article of clothing, and reflective writing, artist statements documenting design intent and process.


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Hacktivism and U

Hackers and artists both engage in playful mischief in public spaces digital and physical, from rickrolling to yarn bombing. In this story arc, visitors contribute to a shared Hackers' code of ethics before planning a hack or public art installation of their own. They are encouraged to collect data about other visitors using sensors and observation to determine the best means of delighting their audience. Before using social media to communicate their work, visitors will learn some basic computer programming skills to try their hand at filtering sponsored and fake content and tracking the artistic preferences of other visitors.


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My Music, my story

Music is an example of how art and technology can be combined to amplify the power of stories. Visitors will be tasked with creatively telling a story using a collection of digital and traditional musical instruments. While communicating their message, they'll learn how audio devices communicate through MIDI signals and have a chance to create instruments of their own that use a variety of sensors to generate sound and light. Local musicians will be invited to share their own stories of how they use music and social media to spread their message.


wait, Who even are you?

I am an engineer with limited patience for theory.

My work lies at the intersection of education and experience design. I employ rigorous project management and a process-oriented mindset to execute on creative visions. As a student at the University of Minnesota, I led the design of events, spaces, and organizations dedicated to hands-on and project-based learning. You can see my work carried on in traditions such as the 10,000 Makes Makeathon and the Valentine's Day Steel Rose Workshop. I have been a longtime advocate for makerspaces on campus and continue the crusade by stirring up communication between librarians, students, faculty, managers of spaces, and a broader national community of academic makerspaces. Since graduation, I facilitated a design thinking workshop for K-12 educators at the EdCampMSP 2017 unconference, am working to publish my undergraduate research on academic makerspaces, and serve as a volunteer mentor for a high school robotics team.

I am willing to use whatever medium is necessary to sow delight, facilitate learning, or provoke meaningful change. Despite this declared agnosticism, my designs betray a penchant for traditional materials and digital fabrication. Though I have since graduated from the University of Minnesota, you may still discover my lighting elements at the CSE Winter Light Show, toys created by me or my students in the annual Toy Product Design Playsentations, or blanket fort furniture donated to young learners in the Shirley G. Moore Lab School.

Meet my collaborator Laura Schmidt at http://www.laschmidt.net/about-me/.

Together we are the alxandria theatre company.