What role can universities play in the fast-moving, iterative organism of cultural production? Our seminar, entitled Emergent Culture: Production and Strategies explored current attitudes toward spatial hybridity and immersion. We traversed the landscape of contemporary culture and were wowed by the choreography of the glitch in the speculative architecture of Liam Young and the internet art of Jodi. We debated the gradients of immersion in the theatrical environments of David Byrne and You Me Bum Bum Train. We tested the notion of subversive infiltration in Miranda July’s Somebody app and political provocateur Amir Baradaran’s AR project Frenchising the Mona Lisa. We obsessed over the prescience of the world-building technique used by Alex McDowell in Minority Report. And we marveled at the constant flow of brand collaborations by Jeff Koons (Google, Snapchat, Acute Art) that tested virtual boundaries. We reviewed more than one hundred case studies as we searched for strategies that would heighten our experience of immersive culture.
Interactive storytelling is nearing ubiquity, and every aspect of culture is contending with how to integrate it into their practices, their fields, their industries. Be it experiential marketing, experiential retail, experiential theater, experiential art, or a mash-up of all of the above, we cannot settle for the lowest common denominator.
The expanded field of experiential design has resulted in a kind of schizophrenic hyper-acceleration of cultural content. We (a group of millennial graduate students steered by a Gen-X organizer) set out to compose a short glossary of terms to define the strategies and conditions we found prevalent and intriguing among the noise. No matter the role you play—1.) distributor/producer; 2.) creator/artist; or 3.) user/audience—we hope this guide will prompt dialogue as we continue to expand upon this field with eyes wide open.