BUFFALO, N.Y. -- University at Buffalo visual-studies students
will present an exhibit on how to keep the UB campus "green" and
how to use "play" to address serious issues like racial
stereotyping, genetic engineering and the economic crisis.
The exhibition, "Contemporary Design Issues & Designed
Play," will open with a public reception in the gallery from 5-7
p.m. April 23 and will be on view Friday, Tuesday and Wednesday
through April 29 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Visual Studies
Gallery in the basement of the Center for the Arts on UB's North
It will feature art and design projects by students of Stephanie
Rothenberg, assistant professor of visual studies. The students
completed the work as part of two classes: the undergraduate course
"Contemporary Design Issues" and the graduate studio "Designed
The students worked with UB Green, the university's
environmental steward office, to create a student-oriented campaign
to spotlight UB's green efforts. UB Green wanted its information
kiosk to be less generic and more mobile and engaging, Rothenberg
"The students designed what looks like a whimsical wheel of
fortune whose outer circumference is marked with different
environmental categories," she explains.
"When you spin it you get different factoids about UB recycling,
transportation and emission-reduction activities and things you can
do to keep the campus green. It is very educational, but it also
draws viewers to it," she says.
Also on exhibit will be student-designed posters and a Web site
that offers an online energy-saving toolkit and a contest in which
the prizes are student-designed green products.
Students in the "Designed Play" class will showcase multimedia
projects, public interventions and interactive games that explore a
new design medium: the changing role of "play" and its impact on
contemporary cultural production.
"'Play' is no longer considered a free-form childhood activity,"
Rothenberg says, "but is used today as a design medium to engage
people in the workplace and in education and entertainment
"It is also being used on a variety of platforms and
technologies including 'Second Life,' 'Google Maps' and
GreatOutdoors.com," she says, "to engage players in addressing
sensitive issues like surveillance, bioethics, nationalization and
"At this exhibit you will see a student-designed board game that
addresses racial and gender stereotyping in college, a game of
Monopoly whose design has been rethought to reflect the economic
crisis," she says, "and a project that looks at the ethical issues
involved in using genetic engineering to make the perfect baby, as
promised by an imagined bioengineering company."
In her teaching and in her own work, Rothenberg uses
performance, installation and digital media to create what she
calls "solicitous interactions" that question the boundaries and
social constructs of manufactured desires. Referencing corporate
strategy, these situations merge popular forms of advertising and
market research with participatory experiences involving
role-playing and fantasy.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public
university, a flagship institution in the State University of New
York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's
more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through
more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree
programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of
the Association of American Universities.