“I planned to complete my undergrad in Italy over the summer, but like most, my plans for 2020 were undone. I stumbled upon two RISD CE Online courses in 3D modeling and Augmented Reality that interested me as an aspiring art director constantly on the lookout for new mediums to engage with. Extended Reality (XR) is a medium I had heard of and seen examples, but I never thought I’d realistically get the chance to engage with the technology in my own artistic way. I saw these studios not only as lucky alternatives to my coursework in Italy, but as catalysts for a new direction I wanted to head into throughout my career as a future XR art director.

I found all my AR projects in my Augmented Reality studio very challenging. I have a very divergent thinking process and approach to my work which often results in many different ideas sprouting from a single source of inspiration; I choose my favorite one and run with it, if it fails I automatically move onto plan B, C, or D. This studio challenged me to take my prior knowledge of the Adobe Creative Cloud, and fuse it with multiple 3D modeling software programs like Blender and Rhino (which I was simultaneously learning for the first time in my other class) and ultimately create an AR simulation using Adobe Aero or Unity. I was learning 4-5 new software programs in one semester and trying to get them to express my intricate visions was excruciatingly tedious. I remember getting all the way down to “plan W” for my second AR animation project, when I finally refined my vision enough to meet my novice technical skills in AR.

I assumed that my exceptionally talented and accomplished instructors would be judgmental of my underdeveloped skills compared to their own or what they are used to interacting with, but I was surprised and comforted by their humble, helpful, encouraging, and inspiring natures. My two CE instructors were there to pat me on the back for a job well done while offering constructive feedback to apply in the future.

It’s hard to stay inspired and passionate, let alone motivated and focused. I’ve realized in quarantine that my best work comes instantaneously when my mind is engaged elsewhere and thereby indirectly energized. To reach this point, I engage in something aerobic, walking in nature, Zumba, or something restful, emotionally stimulating, nostalgic, meditative, anything to get me connected with myself and the world I wish to contribute to. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve watched the Lord of the Rings extended edition in quarantine; simply hearing its soundtrack and sound design in the background, looking up from my work to witness the most natural expression of one of the characters, absorbing its applicable narrative to my own life, and the lives of those around me, has somehow kept me determined.”

—Simran A. Dargan, RISD CE Summer Programs online student

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