Commonalities of an Uncommon Major

By Meredith Kertzman '13, Web Producer

What do an Asian American queer person of color, a giant origami, Assassin’s Creed and Twitter all have in common? They’re all Scripps media studies theses. The Scripps Voice talked with four media studies majors to learn more about their senior projects and their experiences with the major.

Alissa Fang ‘12

A media studies major on the film/video production track, Fang decided to create a video portrait of August Guang, a self-identified Asian American queer person of color, for her thesis. “I wanted to highlight the com- plexities of the Asian American queer experience because I felt like this particular identity is not represented well (if at all) in media,” Fang said. “I wanted to create an intimate portrayal of August.”

For Fang, who has completed her thesis, the best part was the post-production editing process. “I love editing, and I always have a lot of fun editing videos. Also, August is a hilarious person, so as I watched the interview in post- production, I found myself laughing to myself constantly in the editing room,” she said. “Being able to put together August’s story in a compelling way... was very rewarding.”

Fang’s advice for media studies majors who are worried about thesis is “Don’t fret! Senior seminar will be of great help!” She also suggested that students’ theses follow their passions, so the projects will be fun to create like hers was.

Victoire Poumadere ‘12

After taking a couple of introductory film classes for fun, Poumadere realized that she wanted to continue to study video and media theory. “Each one of my [media studies] classes has been mind-opening in the way I see and interact with my surroundings and interests,” she said.

Poumadere’s thesis is a year-long project in two parts. The first part is an installation that plays with dimensions and time perception. To represent the passage from 2D to 3D, Poumadere built a giant origami (7.4 by 7.4 ft). The fourth dimension is represented by a projection of a stop-motion video of the origami being folded.

“This semester, I am expanding on the idea of 4D and how the projection of an image onto a 3D object challenges our perception of time, space and our understanding of the virtual,” she explained. “I am working with a video projection mapping software to create an interactive video puzzle that will take place in 4 dimensional space.”

Poumadere advises media studies majors not to limit themselves to one medium or idea. “The digital and video tracks are so open,” said Poumadere, “and the people I know who have been enjoying their theses the most are the ones who expanded really far from traditional usage of their medium, and/or brought ideas that they were passionate about.”

Vicky Tiller ‘12

While some people use video games to escape from thesis, Tiller combined the two. Her work began as a project about female fandom of Assassin’s Creed. She is continuing to work with Assassin’s Creed for her thesis, looking at it through the lenses of theorists such as Marx and Foucault. “My goal is to use Assassin’s Creed to help explain these theories to people who are familiar with the game, but not as familiar with the theories,” Tiller said. “If I’m lucky, perhaps I can also convince non-gamer intellectuals to give video games a chance, or at least open up discussions between [gamers and intellectuals.]” Her final project will be a blog combining text and video.

Though she started out as a History major, Tiller switched to Media Studies after deciding that she cared more about the portrayal of history in the media instead of the history itself. “Honestly, I love writing essays about video games, so getting class credit is really just a bonus.”

Currently playing Assassin’s Creed and reading the Communist Manifesto for her thesis, Tiller emphasized the importance of passion when choosing a thesis topic. “Just find something that you’re passionate about and make sure you can sell the idea to the professors,” she said.

Tiffany Yau '12

Yau, who is following the digital/electronic track and also majoring in studio art, is combining her interests in design, art and computer science for her thesis. She has been working on a virtual map constructed from live-streamed data from Twitter. “I wanted to map out a sort of collective consciousness present in social media networks,” Yau said. “My project presents a dynamic, evolving model of relationships between individual communities by mapping cities based on the likeness of their salient topics, measured through common hashtags as opposed to their geographic locations.”

Yau’s project sounded daunting even to herself, but, said Yau, “I ended up creating something that I had genuinely thought would be impossible at the beginning of the semester.”