Drones, Heartbeat Simulators and Musical Umbrellas… It’s the Fall 2017 IMA Show

True to NYU Shanghai tradition, the semester isn’t over until the last Interactive Media Arts project sings – or dances, or glows, or envelops you in a virtual world. The two hour end of semester exhibition on December 15 was no exception. Students showed off their creativity and technical skills acquired over the semester, in classes ranging from New Interfaces in Musical Expression and Talking Fabrics to Digital Sculpting for Facial Animation.

“The process of prototyping that our students go through is very experimental, and it frequently involves a trial and error style approach to problem solving,” said Assistant Dean for Emerging Media Matthew Belanger. “It also requires them to develop awareness, empathy, understanding, and skills through observation, investigation, research, making, and also iteration.”









Below, students tell us about some of the projects they’ve created:

Umbrello by Alexandru Grigoras

Course: New Interfaces in Musical Expression (NIME)

“Umbrello is a modern instrument loosely inspired from the concept of a cello. Its main components are an umbrella and a laser-cut bow, which together enable the artist to play a number of different chords, as well as control the levels of wind, rain, and thunder in the background.”




Wrath of The AlpaGod (or AlpacaVR) by Linda L. & Alexis T.

Course: Creating Immersive Worlds

“The premise is: by sheer luck, you are the last remaining alpaca and must rescue friends, family, and beloved comrades that the AlpaGod has turned into gemstones. Traditionally VR experiences require the user to use a teleporting system to move around the virtual world. What sets this experience apart are the methods of locomotion we chose to implement. In the case of AlpacaVR, the user must swing their arms in order to move in a certain direction; similar to how humans swing their arms while walking or running. Future developments include additional motion controller commands and infinite walking space.”




Safety Keeping Bag by Cheryl Li, Haitian Ma

Course Title: Talking Fabrics

“Inside this bag is a secret button which you can use to switch on an alarm system. When the alarm system is on, the bag senses the weight of its contents and sounds a buzzer when something is removed. The alarm stops when the item is put back and the original weight of contents is restored. This is just a prototype, and moving forward, we will make the bag more lightweight.”




崇明生活 (Chongming Life) by Dylan Crow (Producer) Persis Ke (Screenwriter), Valerie Wang (Screenwriter), Kacper Krasowiak (Videographer and Editor), Sara Bruszt (Sound Designer)

Course Title: Unmanned Aerial Storytelling

崇明生活 (Chongming Life) is a documentary that follows the journey of Xueying, who moved to Chongming Island in 2008 to start an organic and eco-friendly farm. The documentary is enhanced by the use of footage taken with unmanned aerial vehicles.

Persis: “I loved learning how easy it is to film with drones, and how drones can be used as a tool for collecting footage and data in hard to reach areas, like the middle a field or during a natural disaster.”

Kacper: “On the surface, our documentary has a lot to do with agriculture, but what it is really about is the journey of Xueying, who persevered against all odds and made an impact on eco-friendly farming in China. This is also the most valuable thing I learned during the class, that at the core of  every documentary is a good story.”

Sara: “I enjoyed learning about the technical aspects of operating drones and their uses as tools when producing films. There are so many moving parts even if you’re creating a short film, and it was really rewarding to work with such a dedicated team.”


SVT Heartbeat Simulation by Ines Laoui

Course: Talking Fabrics

"Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT) is an irregular, very fast rhythm that is triggered by stress or anxiety which is further proliferated by improper electrical activity in the upper part of the heart. Because I have been impacted by SVT my whole life, I find it necessary to educate others on what people who suffer from this condition endure. This project aims to do that through vibration, which is felt strongly in the upper center left of the chest, where the heart is located. What we were able to do with the code was have a regular heartbeat, followed by a pause, and then ending with rapid beating, repeated on a loop. Because I want this to be an inclusive simulation for people of all shapes and sizes, I chose a belt/band design that wraps around the chest and can be adjusted with velcro. In the future I want to explore adding a pressure simulation.”



"Invisible" by Ruonan Chang

Course title: New Interfaces in Musical Expression (NIME)

"This class is based on a concept of building creative musical instruments. For this project, I wanted to create generate noise based on different body movements--it’s opposite to the idea that people always 'dance to the music.’”



“Madness Is Like Gravity" by Yue Sun

Course title: Digital Sculpting for Facial Animation

“In this project, I created a lip sync animation from my favorite movie, The Dark Knight, where I applied the techniques and methods that I learned in class. This class has allowed me to fully explore myself in digital sculpting, face rendering and animation. In the future, I hope to learn and develop the techniques to combine machine learning with lip sync animation.”




This semester's IMA Show featured the work of its foundation courses: Communications Lab, Interactive Lab, Animatronics, Digital Sculpting for Facial Animation, Generative Language, Intermedia, Interactive Documentaries, Interactive Storytelling, Introduction to Robotics, Nature of Code, Programming Design Systems, Minimum Viable Products, Talking Fabrics; Toy Design & Prototyping, User Experience Design, AR/VR Fundamental, Creating Immersive World, NIME, Shenzhen Style, Unmanned Aerial Storytelling, Introduction to Assistive Technologies, and Fairy Tales for the 21st Century.


Watch how IMA has evolved over the years:

Video of the Fall 2015 show

Video of the Spring 2016 show

Video of the Fall 2016 NYU Shanghai End of Semester Shows (IMA is from the 0:40 - 1:20 mark)