ITP – guest post of Erica Gorochow

While I was in New York 2005/06 I met a lot of interesting and creative people. Erica Gorochow is one of the them. And after New York we stayed digitally in contact. A short while ago she wrote me an email and reported about a project she is participating. We came up with the idea that she could write a guest post about it because it fits perfectly to Better Taste Than Sorry. By the way, it’s the first guest post at Better Taste Than Sorry and I am more than happy with it.

The ITP Camp

Hey, I’m Erica Gorochow. I live in New York City where I work as a freelance motion designer and animator. Most recently, I’ve been hanging with the lovely folks at VH1, working on a variety of different on-air projects.

My impression of academia is that it’s generally slow to technologically adapt and usually falls short when it comes to execution. Ideas tend to exist strictly in theory. Nothing seemed further from the truth when I visited NYU’s ITP thesis show last May. It was like a far-out, art invention fair. Projects ranged from interactive installations, to prototypes for mobile businesses, musical toys and even vibrant sculptures that made homes more green. Despite a few rough edges, the sheer volume of ideas on display was inspiring.

At the show, I noticed they were advertising for a mini-version of the two year graduate degree: ITP Camp. I, myself had had a few concepts I was anxious to discuss outside of my own bubble. But not even knowing where to start in regards to understanding programming, was pretty crippling.  Additionally, I’m interested in the future of boutique creative shops. I really admire the few studios who foster intense collaboration between artists and technologists to push the envelope on what we can visually imagine. I saw the camp as a good opportunity to think out-loud and explore a seemingly futuristic laboratory.

When June started, I don’t think anyone (including NYU) could have predicted how it was going to come together. This was the first year the university had offered the program. The nearly blank calendar on the central website was soon filled with classes lead by ITP faculty, professionals, as well as other camp students who offered a view into their area of expertise (with the opportunity to get paid to do so).

All the classes were á la carte – attempting to be designed around those who worked full-time. You could attend as often as you wanted. There were no obligations. The faculty definitely encouraged sinking your teeth into a project quickly. Many campers pitched concepts openly to anyone hanging out on the program’s loft-like floor. At the same time, I was keen on eating up exposure to technology: physical computing (think Make Magazine), Open Frameworks, programming for mobile platforms using tools like PhoneGap, Processing, Max MSP… the list goes on. As some one who doesn’t professionally work directly in the interactive field – it was very eye opening. But there was more! Brainstorms for new business models with Magnum photojournalist Susan Meiselas, heated debates on the future of music distribution, a look into how the Museum of Natural History uses new media art to elevate their exhibitions. If you read any amount of design, technology and/or science blogs – imagine your RSS or twitter feed come to life. It certainly felt healthy to share face-to-face, in really real time.

The best part, however, was the diversity of people involved. Campers were certainly there for different reasons and brought a variety of different skillets to the table. People were by and large, both critical and open. I think what bound the group was certain level of passion and genuine enthusiasm to move beyond conjecture to execution. Though at times the month was overwhelming, in the end a few people came out with completed ideas and many had mini prototypes, wireframes and an expanded sense of what is possible.

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ITP – guest post of Erica Gorochow