CTSA Awards the 2021-22 Research & Innovation Grants

The Claire Trevor School of the Arts Research and Innovation Advisory Committee has named the next Research & Innovation Grants cohort. Formerly known as 21C Research Grants, the newly relaunched Research and Innovation Creative Research Grant will continue to build on 21C’s legacy in cultivating experimental and arts-based research in CTSA’s four departments.

During its foundational years from 2017-2020, the program grew under the direction of John Crawford, professor of dance and media arts. 21C supported several groundbreaking and interdisciplinary productions and programming, including Reading Frankenstein (2019), the xMPL Emergence Series (2018-19), 21C Research Support (2018-19), and Living in The Tempest (2018).

In 2020, the school established a new area of focus, CTSA Research and Innovation, which welcomed the inaugural Associate Dean of Research and Innovation, Jesse Colin Jackson, professor of art. The grant program has since awarded a combined $80,000 to faculty and graduate students for creative research in the arts.

2021-2022 Research & Innovation Grants

The Research and Innovation Advisory Committee (RI Committee), composed of a faculty member from each CTSA department, awarded the following proposals for the 2021-2022 academic year:

The Grand Prize Winner

Associate Professor Deborah Oliver has been a faculty member at the University of California, Irvine, Department of Art since 1998, where she teaches Performance Studies and New Genres. In 2015, Oliver co-founded “The Art of Performance in Irvine,” an annual performance event dedicated to experimentation in live art, which takes place at the xMPL, Experimental Media and Performance Lab at UC Irvine. Now in its 7th edition, this annual series presented Sound House (Everyone is Working) in Spring 2022.

Sound House centers on a series of tasks that shape the sound in the room. These tasks, executed by the ensemble (including lead artists) manipulating objects, controllers, lights, walls, Bunraku-like puppets, live-feed video, and projection, emerge from our interest in the daily routines of Minuteman Missile technicians, who work in hidden underground launch facilities operated by the US military since the 1960s. The performative effect is one of focused activity, like in a NASA control room. Live-mixed projection amplifies tasks and provides an immersive environment for the audience. Eight modular walls (3.5’ tall) are embedded with microcomputers, sensors, and speakers that communicate wirelessly. Codes generated by performers and puppets are sent to the speakers, signaling instructions to the performers, arranging the walls, and constantly shifting the physical space. A feedback loop between the walls and microphones housed inside the puppets tracks their movement to provide rich sonic material. Using only the sound in the room, this feedback emphasizes the puppets’ interactions with their environment. The tasks of coding, listening, and inspecting mirror the technicians’ routines in this performative durational performance.

Image: Sound House (Everyone is Working) is a multidisciplinary durational performance conceived by composers John Eagle, Cassia Streb, and interdisciplinary artist Janie Geiser and developed in collaboration with an ensemble of puppeteers, video and lighting designers, musicians, and performers.

2021-2022 Research and Innovation Creative Research Grant Recipients:

Talin Abadian, M.F.A., Drama: Embodied Nature Writing Workshop and Research Project
A four-week nature writing workshop that provides an anti-colonial space for creative responses to the environment and allows participants to engage with nature through their personal, diverse life experiences, histories and backgrounds.

Bradford Chin, M.F.A., Dance: Un-choreographed Inclusion
An exploration of centering disability justice to realize a more inclusive choreographic process and new aesthetic paradigms in concert dance.

Michael Dessen, Professor, Music: Composer-Improvisers Creative Technology Workshop
Creative Partnerships for Improvisational Music Technologies will bring renowned jazz and improvising musicians to UCI for mini-residencies and pair them with ICIT PhD students to support new works that apply cutting-edge technologies in novel ways, expanding the cultural frame of digital arts research.

Feyintoluwa Ekisola, M.F.A. Drama: Ma Binu! Screenplay Development
Ma Binu! is an exploration of Yoruba language, culture, music using traditional storytelling methods.

Lindsay Gilmour, Assistant Professor, Dance: Body as Earth
A screendance exploring the embodiment of the high mountain peaks of Montana.

Emma Ginzel, M.F.A., Music: By Women For Women
By Women, For Women is a vocal recital highlighting female composers telling women’s stories. The program features composers and poets from a variety of cultures including Latin America and South America

Simon Leung, Professor, Art: Squatting Project/Hong Kong Men
Based on a photograph of a police arrest of "leftists" during the 1967 riots in Hong Kong, Squatting Project/Hong Kong is a work in an "open form" addressing the police, "the left," and protest.

Mari Kimura, Professor, Music: MUGIC@v.2
To fund the research creating the 2nd prototype of MUGIC® motion sensor now used by many students and artists around the world.

Qiann Li, M.F.A., Drama: A Shot in the Dark
A multimedia installation that explores the shooting of Akai Gurley, a Black man, by former NYPD officer Peter Liang.

Annie Loui, Professor, Drama: The Ministry for the Future
A physical theater performance based on Kim Stanley Robinson's futuristic novel about climate change and humanity’s efforts to turn the tide.

Teerath Majumder, Ph.D., Music: Relational Music
A concert of interactive music that blurs the line between the performer and the audience.

Deborah Oliver, Associate Professor, Art ($8,000 Faculty Prize): The Art of Performance @ UCI 7th Edition
An annual event dedicated to experimentation in live art co-founded by Oliver and Professor Jenkins in 2015. This project fosters dialog, pedagogical connections, and engagement between cutting edge visiting performance artists and inter-disciplinary artists with undergraduate students, through performances, workshops and conversations.

Bryan Reynolds, Professor, Drama: Boundless
"The Passage" tells the story of a helicopter ski guide as she struggles to keep extreme skiers alive while contending with the awesome forces of Alaska's most treacherous mountains.

Liz Stringer, M.F.A., Art: Arts at Burns Piñon
A project in which a disciplinary group of graduate students from all four departments, will reimagine the Burns Piñon Ridge Reserve, a UC Natural Reserve System site in the high desert near Joshua Tree, as a site for the Arts.

Devin Wilson, M.F.A., Art: Nonhuman Intelligent Virtual Assistant
NIVA [Nonhuman Intelligent Virtual Assistant] is an artificial intelligence program that challenges capitalistic notions of gender by deconstructing our unconscious biases towards humanistic AI reinforced by growing technological monopolies such as Apple, Google, and Meta.

Associate Dean Jackson and the RI Committee would like to thank Dean Stephen Barker and the Claire Trevor Society for providing major funding for this program.