Department of Visual and Media Arts
Meet John Craig Freeman
As a professor of computer animation, John Craig Freeman encourages his students to think beyond traditional forms of media. As a media artist, he puts his teaching into practice.
Long before Google Earth entered mainstream consciousness, Freeman was using satellite imaging to create a new media art form. The result? Imaging Place, a virtual reality environment that examines how globalization is impacting individuals and communities around the world, including Warsaw, Beijing, and São Paulo. "It's built in the spirit of online video games," say Freeman, " but instead of a fantasy world, it's looking at the real world."
Installed in a museum or gallery, Imaging Place combines panoramic photography, digital video, and 3-D technologies to create environments that viewers can "enter" and navigate from the perspective of local residents. Using a technique he calls memory mapping, Freeman records people telling stories about the places that make up the infrastructure of their lives, whether it be an apartment building, a temple, or a marketplace. "I get them talking about their identity, and how they map that identity to the spaces in which they reside."
The Next Generation of Immersive Media Makers
Back in the classroom, Freeman teaches his students to develop their imaginations along with their skills so that they can create and lead the next iteration of immersive media. "The students of this generation are the first native speakers of digital memory," he says. "I come in as a migrant to the digital network, but these students grew up playing video games. They are hard-wired to be the first authors."
“The students of this generation are the first native speakers of digital memory.”