Project Studio Structure

Each semester the lab director offers a studio course in which students work jointly on faculty-led long-term research projects. Admission to any particular section of Project Studio is by permission of the instructor.

The ICE project studio explores the intersection of imaginative cognition and computational expression through a combination of theory and practice. Our view of imaginative cognition is grounded in cognitive science approaches emphasizing the embodied, distributed, and situated nature of cognition, focusing on topics such as metaphor, analogy, conceptual blending, and narrative imagining. Our view of computational expression focuses on technical representational strategies for interactive and generative artistic forms, with an eye toward richly evocative content, narrative, and social empowerment. Currently, we focus on theories of cognitive categorization, social classification, identity politics to inform projects in digital media forms such as gaming, interactive and generative narrative, and architectures for identity representation.

Our technical and cultural output falls into at least two categories:

1) Collaborative Technical Work
We develop joint technical work for publication in artificial intelligence, CSCW and CSCL, multimedia, computer game development, HCI, and related journals and conferences. Such work revolves around computational support for representing cognitive semantics, but always with an eye toward critical social engagement as an application area. Understanding how to create ontologies to enable subjective experiences such as racism, collective narrative improvisation, social action, and compassion are central concerns. Our technical work seeks to understand the contribution that formal representations can make toward precisely describing the subjective experience of our social ills, and implementing narrative techniques to enable imaginative solutions. One example of such work has been the development of an algorithm for conceptual blending and mental spaces representations to structure interactive and generative multimedia narratives and games. Future goals include implementing new formalizations to express effects of cognitive categorization and sociological classification.

2) Individual and Collaborative Expressive Work
Utilizing the shared formal structures, cognitively inspired algorithms, and ontologies described above, our group members create expressive and pedagogical works aimed at social intervention, transformation, and imagination. In our technical work we create platforms and supporting technologies for novel forms of computational expression, however we are also interested in exploring the effects of immediate cultural deployment. We believe that richly evocative cultural productions represent means for transformative effects upon individuals and society — empowerment through imagination!

D. Fox Harrell, Director

Associate Professor of Digital Media

CMS | CSAIL | MIT