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Art and technology students explore media filtering

An image from "Oppression," the film played inside Jordan Reynolds' "Reflection." Credit: Courtesy of Jordan Reynolds

An image from “Oppression,” the film played inside Jordan Reynolds’ “Reflection.” Credit: Courtesy of Jordan Reynolds

Sometimes people are guilty of listening to only the things they want to hear. They block out dissenting opinions and seek out those they agree with, putting themselves in what is known as a filter bubble.

Ohio State students studying art and technology explore this concept in a new exhibition, “Filter Bubble.”

Ken Rinaldo and Amy Youngs organize an exhibition for students taking courses in art and technology each semester. They came up with the name of this exhibition when Youngs was reading “The People’s Platform,” a book by Astra Taylor which discusses the filter bubble.

“The art and technology program is very much focused on how we use technology in pro-social ways,” Rinaldo said. “In ways that would amplify the experiences of those who generally don’t have a voice on campus. We felt that the filter bubble would be a really appropriate theme.”

More than 300 artists from classes in 3-D animation, 3-D modeling, internet art and new media and robotics have submitted their work for the exhibition, Rinaldo said.

The exhibition provides students an opportunity to think about issues and the potential for media communication to be biased towards a person’s own views, but ultimately it’s about keeping an open mind and being aware of the bubbles, Rinaldo said.

Jordan Reynolds, a third-year in art and technology, created “Reflection,” an interactive sculpture. The piece can be worn like a helmet, and causes the users to dissociate from their current situation and immerse themselves into another environment. While inside the helmet, the user watches a film on loop and listens to a recording, Reynolds said. There is one screen playing the video in the helmet, and the screen is surrounded by four mirrors so that it feels like the user is watching an infinite number of screens.

The helmet simulates the way that media can be so overwhelming and constant that it can end up desensitizing people to issues, Reynolds said.

“You’re detached from the environment around you, and you kind of become overstimulated by the visuals,” Reynolds said. “What’s interesting is when a user is inside it for a long period of time, the stimulation from the video and the actual subject matter become overwhelming to the point of cognitive disassociation.”

Reynolds has made several films that can be swapped out depending on the exhibition. For “Filter Bubble,” he uses a film called “Oppression,” which deals with the issue of racial inequality.

“Filter Bubble” will be on display Wednesday through Friday at Hopkins Hall. The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Admission is free.

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