A unique collaboration is providing a research exchange for UBC Okanagan digital humanities students currently visiting England’s University of Exeter.
The four students, accompanied by supervising professors Dr. Karis Shearer and Myron Campbell, are to host their augmented reality artwork, Press Play, at Exeter’s Streatham campus.
Press Play is a collaborative effort between the University of British Columbia, Concordia University in Montreal and Exeter University, explains Dr. Shearer. The pilot internship exchange program allows undergraduate students to pitch and pursue a self-directed project in research-creation, digital design and media production.
First-year Bachelor of Fine Arts students Ains Reid and Austyn Bourget-White and third-year Bachelor of Media Studies students Kai Hagen and Matthew Kenney will visit Exeter, where their highly anticipated Press Play augmented reality artwork will be displayed in the Digital Humanities Lab.
“With mentorship from faculty at partner universities, the initiative offers undergraduate students experiential learning opportunities in visual art and design, as well as podcast production,” says Dr. Shearer.
After a three-year delay owing to COVID-19, the research exchange is finally being brought to fruition. With Exeter’s digital projects Poetry of the Lancashire Cotton Famine and Famine and Dearth in India and Britain, 1550-1800, the UBCO students will bridge the histories of famine to contemporary audiences in rural and urban, creative and academic, industries and communities in India, Britain, and right here in Kelowna.
“Collaborating with our colleagues from Exeter has truly enriched our students’ experiences producing art,” says Campbell, a Creative Studies professor. “Through this project, they learned new technologies and created modern interpretations and reflections on poems over a century in the past. Witnessing our students unleash their creative potential and bring forth innovative works inspired by these poems has been a very rewarding experience for all involved.”
When they return and in partnership with the City of Kelowna, the UBCO students will display their work at the Rotary Centre for the Arts on Cawston Avenue starting June 9.
As part of the research exchange, two English literature students, Emily Chircop and Sofie Drew, and their supervisors from Exeter will travel to Kelowna in early June to spend time in UBCO’s AMP Lab. The lab houses projects that engage in the humanities by adding value to cultural artifacts through interpretation and analysis.
The Exeter students will participate in cultural and research activities around the Okanagan during their stay. They will also attend the UBCO students’ exhibition, hear from Syilx elders at the FEELed Lab’s Water & Fire event, and visit the SoundBox Collection, which houses hundreds of digitized literary recordings by poets from the west coast and BC interior.
Following the Digital Humanities showcase opening on June 9 at Kelowna’s Okanagan Regional Library, the Exeter students will host a public listening party to celebrate the launch of their SoundBox Signals Podcast episode. The episode features a 43-year-old archival recording of local Okanagan-based author Sharon Thesen reading from her first book Artemis Hates Romance.
The multifaceted nature of the Press Play project grants students the opportunities to network and collaborate with other academic, digital, and literary institutions, mentors, and peers while developing employable interdisciplinary skills attuned to their interests and emerging expertise, explains Dr. Shearer.
UBCO and Exeter students will showcase their craft and research through exhibitions open to the university community and the broader public. Although the projects have distinct focuses, both will actively bridge literary archives to digital mediums, local history to international audiences, and the past to the present. The projects will demonstrate the interconnectedness of contemporary conversations with those of the past.
“By engaging talented student artists and creative producers whose public-facing digital art and digital storytelling animates local archival materials, the Press Play initiative aims to connect wider international audiences with digitized cultural heritage projects,” says Dr. Shearer.