ART EDUCATION participation

PRECURORS

GAMING TECHNOLOGY

FEMINIST PEDAGOGY

COLLABORATIVE ART

CYBERFEMINIST ARTISTS

CyberHouse
2010 © Karen Keifer-Boyd
See also CyberArt Pedagogy and Participatory Art Pedagogy Informed by Feminist Principles

CyberHouse Production Team 2008-2010
Karen Keifer-Boyd: project conception and director, researcher of virtual learning environments for art education, animator, professor of art education in the School of Visual Arts and affiliate professor of women’s studies at Penn State.
John Cottage:Previous programmer for CyberHouse who created the backend programming for CyberHouse, He continues as consultation..
Kenton Martin: Proficient in Flash Action Script, Kenton joined the CyberHouse project in January 2010 to translate XML sent from PhP to Flash Action Script actions, for the visual culture game, CyberHouse, to be used in Penn State art education courses.
Brett Bixler: Lead Instructional Designer with Education Technology Services, a unit of Teaching and Learning with Technology, part of Information Technology Services (ITS) at Penn State consults on the development of CyberHouse.
CyberHouse Production Team 2002-2008
Karen Keifer-Boyd: project conception and director, researcher of virtual learning environments for art education, animator, professor of art education in the School of Visual Arts and affiliate professor of women’s studies at Penn State.

Jenni Järvinen and Mari Mäntylä: computer programmers experience in MySQL, PhP, and Flash action scripts. Based in Helsinki, Finland, they work as a team in programming solutions.

Hui-Chun Hsiao: animator, multimedia specialist, and doctoral candidate in art education at Penn State researching reflective learning in game play. It took her 90 hours to make one of the six sections of CyberHouse, which included 5 distinct animations.

Lilly Lu: consultant on production aspects of integration technology and web usability, interested in research collaborations with me to investigate the interaction among students, students' responses to interactive visuals, and the learning outcomes from the particular pedagogy of CyberHouse. She holds a Ph.D. in art education and is Assistant Professor of Art Education at Northern Illinois University.

Kumar Desai: Previous programmer for CyberHouse available for consultation during the transition stage to the new programmers. He has expertise in MySql and PhP, and has excellent organizational, interpersonal and communication skills. Kumar completed the registration script and login, image upload process so the player’s icon created outside the program moves throughout the rooms in CyberHouse. He also set up the MySql functions but they are not yet integrated with the Flash animations, which is done through action scripts.

Ovid Boyd: consultant on the materialization of CyberHouse concepts. He has been involved in CyberHouse since its inception in 2001. He brings a young man’s perspectives to a critique of the “readability” of the visualized concepts in text, graphics, and animations. He is currently a graduate student in an e-government program at Örebro University in Sweden working alongside computer programmers and developers of virtual environments.

CyberHouse players explore perception, production, and dissemination of images as cultural practices in terms of inclusion and exclusion from power and privilege. It will be piloted as part of Penn State’s Multicultural Competency Certificate program offered by Student Affairs, and by 4th to 9th grade students at an English-language based school in Finland as part of their new curriculum on new media art. From assessment feedback from these two groups, CyberHouse, will be revised and then integrated in art curricula by teachers at high schools in Colorado and Pennsylvania, and other sites. It will be available to anyone with access to the Internet.

Like the air we breathe, we are immersed in visual culture and, therefore, are usually not aware of how power and privilege operate in works of art and other forms of visual culture from past and present times. CyberHouse is designed to expose ideologies of power conveyed by images, to help youth and young adults examine privileged as well as neglected perspectives expressed or silenced through visual culture, and to participate in self-representation with their own visual creations and the choices they make in their interactions in CyberHouse.

The programming allows individuals to upload an image as a self-representation and to see its movement through CyberHouse. When the player/student enters the game they see a breathing house and written instructions and resources for creating a self-representation. Once an icon, which is the player’s self-representation, is uploaded then an animation shows the door of the house opening and a view of the interior foyer with a large mirror. On entering the house into the foyer scene the "player" icon appears twice to seem like a reflection in a large mirror.

Clicking on the reflection’s center portion exposes five different ways to understand center (e.g., subjectivity, core, essence, power, inclusion) in three different environments (womb, closet, and sky). Clicking on the peripheral of the reflection provides entry into three other environments. The six environments will have several short animations in them that offer choices to participants that in turn, according to their choices, construct their worlds from which they interact with each other to remove cultural codes (i.e., labeling). These six environments include:

  1. womb emphasizing autobiography and self-esteem (completed)
  2. closet with a focus on identity formation and enculturation
  3. sky connoting imagination and symbiotic relationships (completed)
  4. a shopping environment that concerns consumption and body image (completed)
  5. a scene of group interaction focused on human relationships
  6. a space of nature that symbolizes transformative power

The Flash® graphics and animations have been created in 3 of the 6 “worlds” in stage one of the two-stage project. When participants have made all of their selections in each of the areas, separated by differently oriented content, their stored selections will form a “room” per participant.

In this art education virtual learning environment “rooms” are assembled from the choices players make. The "player" can chose to buy a product (the history of its production is revealed to educate during the selection process), or plant a tree, for instance, thus creating a room from the player's choices. Fragments of actions form a cohesive story for each player. The choices or actions inform the text with the subjectivity of the player. This is the first segment of the game, i.e., making choices that result in environments that represent participants’ worldviews.

After the first stage is piloted, the next stage of CyberHouse is for CyberHouse players to be able to enter other players’ rooms. The players will be able to attach text comments (like post-it notes) in other players’ rooms. The labels in CyberHouse that will appear in the rooms, probe into the shared characteristics of common images and ask the player to remove uniformity and create difference in the norms. To “win,” so to speak, is to rid one’s environment or room of damaging labels. An overarching philosophy of CyberHouse is that player interactions with each other involve collaborative activity in which individual perspectives are negotiated for consensual actions.

Contact Karen Keifer-Boyd, if you and/or your students would like to pilot the first phase of the game. The first phase of the virtual learning environment in art education should be available by June 2008.


Cyberfeminist House Project Update
2004 © Karen Keifer-Boyd
CyberHouse Production Team
Click on name for vita
Karen Keifer-Boyd (conceptual developer, coordinator, artistic director, animator)
Kumar Desai (programmer)
Ovid Boyd (animator)
Hui-Chun Hsiao (animator)

The CyberHouse game plan is to explore perception, production, and dissemination of visual cultural practices in terms of inclusion and exclusion from power and privilege. “Rooms” are assembled from the choices players make. The "player" can chose to buy a product (its production history is revealed as an animation during the selection process), or plant a tree, for instance, thus creating a room from the player's choices. Fragments of actions form a cohesive story for each player. The choices or actions inform the game’s text with the subjectivity of the players. Production of this first segment of the game, i.e., making choices that result in environments that represent participants’ worldviews, was begun with pilots of the virtual learning environment in December 2004.


Cyberfeminist House Research and Development Team
2003 © Karen Keifer-Boyd, Nathaniel Bobbitt, Madis Pihlak, Cheryl Dellasega & Glenn Hill

Karen Keifer-Boyd, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Art Education, School of Visual Arts, The Pennsylvania State University
Project Initiator, Development, Grant Writer, and Research

I initiated the Cyberfeminist House project in 2001 as a parallel virtual project to Judy Chicago and Donald Woodman's At Home project. My research in this project concerns the benefits of feminist methodologies as a cyberpedagogical approach in art education. Integrating research, creation, and pedagogy in the arts, I am pursuing the question, "Can feminist pedagogy be enacted in a web-based arts learning environment? And, if so, how, with what obstacles to overcome, and with what benefits to society?" This question has led me to study Judy Chicago's teaching, who coined the terms feminist art and feminist art pedagogy thirty years ago, as well as to study others who practice and write about feminist pedagogy, such as bell hooks, Patti Lather, Judith Baca, and Elizabeth Ellsworth. Feminist pedagogies share several commonalties with critical pedagogy in that both have the goal of empowerment of all peoples to create knowledge, particular pertaining to self-representation. Another shared goal is social equity primarily by disrupting hierarchical formations, and instead striving for nonhierarchical relationships, although always self-reflective on the imbalances of power in relationships and on hegemonic processes of knowledge creation, including what counts as art. They differ in origins, theoretical roots, and ways of questioning authority.

The popularity and pervasiveness of violent computer games has motivated me to develop Cyberfeminist House as an alternative Web-based "game," of sorts, for both males and females to critique visual culture with a focus on power and privilege, and to promote values of cooperation and equal power relations. Web-based computer games do not yet exist to critique the visual media’s impact on social interactions and self-identity, although some contemporary artists through their electronic art guide viewers to question norms and value difference.

The Cyberfeminist House project continues to evolve with an interdisciplinary and inter-institutional team that consists of the Information Systems Director for the International Society for Technology in Education, and professors of landscape architecture, architecture, medicine, and humanities.

We, the interdisciplinary team involved in the project, call the project, Cyberfeminist House (CFH), to connect the project with cyberfeminist art and artists (who define themselves with this term). The game will be called CyberHouse. Gender roles and stereotypes are integral to issues of power and privilege, a focus of visual culture and the web-based arts learning environment (i.e., with a game-like pedagogical format).

In CyberHouse, we plan to enable the posting of self-representational art on the web. The community web space will be a stage for interaction with this art and encourage connections with each other for long-term relationships. We would like to influence those interactions to build values of cooperation, collaboration, and ways to empower self (not at the expense of others) that also empower others. We woul'd like the site to be where norms (inscriptions) are questioned and recognized as historically and contextually constructed. A place where difference is valued and inquiry into differences helps one become aware of biases and prejudices and to hopefully move beyond harmful prejudices.

We plan to work with specific groups and places recognizing that when issues are displaced from the local there is loss of social change potential. And, community, including in cyberspace, develops from involvement, shared experience, and memory/history. The programming that we are designing will not allow anonymity to translate into unaccountability.

Nathaniel Bobbitt, Project IT Architect, Grant Writer, and Research

Nathaniel's participation as IT architect of the Cyberfeminist House builds on prior research and creative activity: Survey of Visual Paradigms (MIT Press), Casting a Shadow (Banff Centre), and Physical Feedback: Roles for Sensorimotor Behavior in Cognitive Awareness (Irish Cognitive Society MIND-IV).

Madis Pihlak, Associate Professor, Landscape Architecture, & Director of the Stuckeman Center for Design Computing, School of Architecture and Landscape Architiecture, The Pennsylvania State University
Project Development, Grant Writer, and Research

“My approach is that art and design can connect in a powerful way to give a spiritual connection to place.”

Cheryl Dellasega is an associate professor of medicine and humanities within the College of Medicine at Penn State University. She is interested in clinical interventions which help promote improved physical and psychological outcomes for adolescents with acute health problems such as cancer and diabetes. She is the contact person and coordinator at Hershey for the Arts and Healing Outreach Initiative, the author of Surviving Ophelia, and she created Camp Ophelia™ to address the issue of relational aggression in middle school girls. Cheryl joined the team in September 2002 and is participating in Cyberfeminist House project development, grant writing, and research.

Glenn E. Hill, Associate Professor, Director of Environmental Visualization Program, College of Architecture, Texas Tech University, continues his involvement and support.

The Beginnings of Cyberfeminist House
2001 © Karen Keifer-Boyd & Glenn E. Hill

"Interactivity offers important new avenues to cognition to take place, where works
can begin to flow with the more psychological internal associations
of the individual viewer's make-up and identity in mind"
(Lovejoy, M., Art & Artists in the Electronic Age: PostModern Currents, 1997, p. 167).

"There was a strange discrepancy of our lives as women and the image to which
we were trying to conform, the image I came to call the feminine mystique"

(Friedan, B., Life So Far, 2000, p. 112).

First global open-house
at 7:30 p.m. CT on Dec. 5, 2001

Move your cursor to look around the rooms and close-up. Links take you to videos, process journals, and critical resources. In the future you will be visible as an avatar/persona. At this stage of a long-term collaboration we would will not see you but hope to hear from you in the discussion board. The Cyberfeminist House challenges inscriptions of normalcy from our embodied experiences.

We collected and considered house as symbol, allegory, analogy, and as a physical and psychological interactive space. Please add to the discussion what house symbolizes to you, what your embodied experience of house is, and allegories or analogies of house.

The Cyberfeminist House revisits issues raised byWomanhouse (a 1971 collaborative installation and performance work by Judy Chicago & Miriam Shapiro, other artists and Fresno State students), Betty Friedan's Feminine Mystique (1963), Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper (1892), and Strindberg's (1888) play, Miss Julie concerning how we are inscribed in houses and how that inscription shapes and denies our lived experiences in the 21st century. A request from Jane Olmstead from Western Kentucky University Women's Studies for parallel projects to At Home: A Kentucky Project with Judy Chicago and Donald Woodman (2001), initiated Karen Keifer-Boyd's proposal of Cyberfeminist House.

Cyberfeminist House began as a collaborative project by Karen Keifer-Boyd at Texas Tech University's School of Art, graduate students Joyce Centofanti, Lan, Lin-Lang, Lin, Po-Hsien, Nealy MacKenzie, Adetty Peréz Miles, and Glenn E. Hill, Director of Environmental Visualization Program, College of Architecture, Texas Tech University.

Architect Professor Glenn Hill designed and built the virtual house using 3D Studio Max software. He guided students to translate their ideas into the virtual house and mapped the textures, added the .jpg images, photographed and stitched the rooms to create panoramic views.

For inspiration on the video and performative aspect, German-born artist Oliver Herring (with exhibitions at NYC's Guggenheim Museum SoHo in 1997 and at Biennale di Firenze in Florence) presented about his video and performance art in class on Sept. 24, 2001 following a performance the weekend prior in New Deal, Texas. Each student created a short video to explore different concepts of time & reality and placed this in their "room" in the house.

Esther Parada provided a workshop on November 2, 2001 in which students created personal landscapes that were incorporated into their process pages. Parada demonstrated and discussed a number of strategies for digitally blending, juxtaposing, or sequencing these elements. Parada explores historical and contemporary relationships between visual representation and power, and the complexities of cultural hybridity. She has exhibited extensively in the United States, Latin America, and Europe. Through digital interweaving of photographs and text, she creates images which challenge traditional landscape icons to re-vision an environment of cultural/horticultural diversity.

A field trip to Texas Tech University's Virtual Reality Theater began an exploration of illusion and multi-dimensionality. Additionally, students created self-sculptures to place in the virtual house.

To start the discussion below are examples of house as symbol, allegory, and analogy:

House Symbol: "Our structures are extensions of our world order and are viewed as living beings with life and death cycles" (Text by Tesse Naranjo, Santa Clara Pueblo in the Here, Now, & Always Exhibit at the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture in Santa Fe, July, 2001).
House Allegory: Household in Spanish cinema is an allegory of the nation's politics. In the words of filmmaker Manuel Gutiérrez Aragon) "a microscopic state . . . a summary of the tensions and structures' of the nation" (quoted by Hopewell, J. (1986). Out of the Past: Spanish Cinema After Franco, London, BFI, p. 194). John Hopewell perceives the Spaniard's home as "an arena in which spectacles of gender, nationality and sexuality are represented, in which both fully social and unconscious drives are played out." (Quoted in Smith, P. L. ,1996. Vision machines: Cinema, literature and sexuality in Spain and Cuba, 1983-1993, p. 33. New York: Verso).
House Analogy: "In the context of feminist research methodology, "ecology" suggests that feminist research is housed in various contexts. Most feminist researchers acknowledge that they are housed in particular academic disciplines and theories, and in criticism of the disciplines" (Reinharz, 1992, p. 241). Part of the house includes connections to feminist scholarship, the women's movement, their body, and personal relationships. "I came to see that what I had thought previously was separate items, was actually an ecological system of people, institutions, and ideas, connected to each other in complex ways" (Reinharz, S., 1992, Feminist methods in social research, p. 241. New York: Oxford).