BXA seniors are required to complete the BXA Capstone.
The goal of the capstone is to give a student the opportunity
to weave together the interdisciplinary elements of their curricula
into an integrated project. The creation and completion of such a project is an important and fulfilling synthesis experience for students. In addition, the capstone project provides a concrete result of the interdisciplinary work undertaken by the student over the course of her or his college career. These projects have included thesis papers, outreach
projects, poetry readings, musical and dramatic performances, and
visual art exhibitions.
52-401 BXA Seminar IV:Capstone Fall, 9 units & 52-402 BXA Seminar V:Capstone Spring, 9 units
The BXA Capstone Project gives BXA students the opportunity to demonstrate the extent of their interdisciplinary work over the course of their academic career. The Capstone Project should include elements that span the student’s CFA and DC concentrations (for BHA students), CFA and MCS concentrations (for BSA students), or CFA and SCS concentrations (for BCSA students). The project can be either a scholarly or creative endeavor, and may take one of many possible forms (e.g., a written thesis, a compilation of creative work or works, an experiment and report, a computer program or animation, etc.).
The BXA Capstone sequence covers both semesters of a student's senior year. In the fall, students are enrolled in 52-401 BXA Seminar IV: Capstone Fall (9 units), which meets weekly to discuss strategies for managing research, planning the project, and larger theoretical issues related to interdisciplinary work. At the end of the fall course, students will have produced a Capstone Project proposal, an annotated bibliography, and multiple versions of their project pitch. In the spring, students enroll in 52-402 BXA Seminar: Capstone Spring (9 units), which has no required classroom time. Instead, students spend the semester doing the research and foundational work necessary for the project, as well as meeting with their faculty and BXA advisors as they create their Capstone Project and prepare to present it at the annual Meeting of the Minds Undergraduate Research Symposium held each May.
The BXA Intercollege Degree Programs have limited funds available for BXA students who plan to work on a Capstone Project and are seeking additional funding. Students in need should submit the BXA Capstone Supplemental Grant Application [PDF] to the BXA Director.
BXA Capstone Project Highlights
Marlena Abraham BCSA 2015, Computer Science and Art
A Light Touch
A Light Touch is a series of experiments with virtual reality and haptic feedback. The project includes the construction of a custom-built pair of gloves that deliver a faint to strong vibration to the player when they touch something in virtual reality, and a ghostly, ephemeral game environment that is enhanced by delicate tactile feedback provided by haptics.
Jacqueline Barnes BHA 2016, Creative Writing and Art
PhantaNoir is a concept developed to center black characters, protagonists, and stories in the realm of fantasy. Along with the concept, a graphic novel, an article, and an animation showcase and explain PhantaNoir in depth, as well as set the example for fantasy stories and worlds to come.
Francesca Begos BHA 2016, English and Music Performance
Cesarina & Charles: The Italian Opera Singer and the Rich Englishman
Cesarina & Charles is a short story that rationalizes the conflicted English response to Handel’s Italian operas through the eyes of a young, female, Italian opera singer. The project seeks to contextualize Handel’s work for modern performers of his operas by exploring issues of gender, sexuality, and class in 18th century England, the backdrop of Handel’s career.
Jacob Berntsen BHA 2016, Philosophy and Music Technology with a minor in Sound Design Beauty Slap
Beauty Slap is an electro-brass-funk machine hailing from Pittsburgh, PA. The thunderously funky screams of a brass quartet (two trumpets, two trombones) are twisted and tweaked by Ableton wizard Jakeisrain into sweltering and beat-driven dance music, the likes of which you have never heard before. Beauty Slap has enjoyed national attention surrounding their debut EP and northeastern tours. Armed with a powerfully groovy live show and a litany of releases in the near future, the group is poised for complete world domination.
Asya Borahan BHA 2016, Japanese Studies and Art Recollection: A Recovery of Memory Through Art
Recollection is an ongoing attempt to recover and record personal memories through a series of oil paintings. It also serves as a study of how memory and art can interact with and shape each other. It started as a way of encouraging personal growth through the exploration of the past, and has evolved to include records of daily moments of introspection.
Raquel Caticha BHA 2016, Psychology and Art
Gender and Handwriting: The Depth to Which Social Expectations of Gender Influence Personal Expression
The project examines the connections between society’s definition of masculinity and femininity in relation to how people write. Research was performed through the CMU psychology department and resulted in an installation of handwriting samples that explored and exposed the changing gender binary.
Chloe Chia BHA 2016, Global Systems & Management and Design with a minor in Human-Computer Interaction
Passports as Power
Citizenship has evolved to be more than simple inclusion and exclusion around geographic borders. The forces of the free market, globalization, and technology have led of new forms of transnationalism, and classes of global citizens from a wide spectrum of power. Combining insights from a global systems and design perspective, this research project shows case studies of the social hierarchy that the artifact of a passport perpetuates, the ethical implications of a citizenship market, and potential solutions for the inequalities it produces.
Emily Clark BHA 2016, Creative Writing and Drama
Superfluous: An Exploration in Independent Television
This project attempts to explore the ways web series have influenced television through a series of five fifteen-minute episodes of a new series entitled Superfluous. The episodes focus on incorporating diversity, experimental narrative techniques, and other traits not yet normalized in television.
Timothy Fitzgerald BHA 2016, Economics and Music Technology
Youth and Music
This project is a study of the economic effects of in-school/out of school music programs in secondary schools and a practical application.
Madalyn Gryger BHA 2016, Psychology and Art
Sanctum is a clothing line that explores the experience of living with mental illness. Sanctum is a place to feel safe. It explores the idea of safety in relation to mental illness by recreating boundaries in which people with mental illnesses live in the form of fashion. By using different materials, forms and transparencies, the line creates variations of boundaries between the model and the audience, mimicking the mental boundaries that living with a mental illness can create.
The Asian-American experience is often misrepresented in film, television, fiction, and other media. In Three is a short collection of poems paired with collages that portrays and normalizes the fragmented experience of being Taiwanese-American. This project strives to expand the repertoire of works dealing with Asian-American identities. By visualizing the poems, the collection gives the audience more ways to access the experience.
These two interactive theater pieces explored system design for interactive live performances. Isn’t It Pretty to Think So? explores the use of commodity synchronized audio to allow the audience to dynamically layer pre-recorded music and live performance using wireless networking and smartphone applications. The Norm Is Monstrous explored automated geographically based installations. Viewers use a GPS enabled Android application to trigger automated lighting and automation events around campus, synchronized with audio playback on their devices.
Steven Kosovac BHA 2016, Environmental Studies and Art with a minor in Photography
Andy Warhol: Environmentalist
Was Andy Warhol an environmentalist? The project examines this under-explored question, covering a span of the artist’s life and career. Research is presented in two formats: a screen-printed short essay and a proposal for a hypothetical exhibition on the subject at the Andy Warhol Museum.
Sylvia Kosowski BCSA 2016, Computer Science and Art
Algorithmic Animation: A Tool for Creating Two-Dimensional Painterly Animation
This project is an animation program which is a tool for expediting the creation of 2D animations in painterly styles. It uses an image analogy algorithm to computationally generate frames of animation in a complex style, given corresponding frames colored in a simple style. The tool decreases the time needed to digitally paint each frame of animation, enabling artists to experiment with more complex 2D styles at a lower time cost.
Danielle Lehmann BHA 2016, Creative Writing and Architecture
The Proviso: An Exploration of Dystopian Settings and their Use in Social Commentary
This project examines the duality of place and environment in dystopian texts through a novella set in what could be labeled as a dystopia. The novella exaggerates today’s issues to explore consequences and follows several different characters to explore perspective, voice, and morality.
Arun Marsten BHA 2016, Information Systems and Music Technology
Pitt Pass: An Online Resource for Pittsburgh DIY Music
Made in an attempt to lower the barrier to entry into Pittsburgh’s do-it-yourself music community, Pitt Pass is a web application for scheduling concerts, learning about local bands, and finding concerts in the Pittsburgh area.
Iman Mazloum BHA 2016, International Relations & Politics and Drama
The Zahra Center
The Zahra Center is a play adapted from the novel Surviving Zahra by Fatima Aly Jaffer about the culture of silence regarding domestic abuse and sexual violence in North American communities set during a seven-day wedding with various fun characters. This play and its performance intends to connect audiences from various backgrounds and life experiences while presenting a much-needed Muslim narrative in the performing arts medium.
Laurel Michel-Schottman BCSA 2015, Computer Science and Art
The project was created to better our understanding of how a people relate to their fathers. The website allows users to enter information about their relationship to their fathers through selecting descriptive adjectives and rating their closeness while also providing information about themselves. Users can then use this entered data to sort through what other users provided about their fathers based on age, location growing up, gender, etc. to try to understand bigger themes about what the modern father is.
Christian Murphy BHA 2016, Professional Writing and Art
Benis Wars: The Tail of Weenerdog’s Son
Benis Wars is a digital narrative that explores the downward spiral of genocide and drug addiction, providing edutainment without the constraints of human agency. It incorporates writing, music, art, and technology in an interactive videogame experience.
Liza Otto BHA 2016, Psychology and Architecture with a minor in Hispanic Studies
An Exploration of Spatial Perception through Optical Art
Combining theories of architecture and psychology, this project is a painted mural that addresses the human body’s significance in spatial perception. This cognitive experiment is designed based on various theories of visual perception, centered on the idea of embodied cognition. The installation is a work of optical art designed through principals of perspective and motion parallax to form an illusion that sustains while the viewer is moving past the piece. It is painted in the long corridor below the stands of CMU’s Gesling Stadium, making an uninspiring space on campus a bit more inspiring.
Paul Peng BCSA 2016, Computer Science and Art
Feeling the Computer: Towards an Affect of Non-Productive Computation
This project is a generative study to actualize a feeling of computation. It is after an understanding of computation beyond its applications and formalizations: computation as affect. To do so, this project employs cut-up techniques to create runnable, randomly generated computer programs to perform non-productive computations to isolate this affect in preventing its absorption into applicative intent.
Lina Pulgarin-Duque BSA 2016, Physics and Drama
A Small Leap: Placing Theatre at the Center of Science Outreach
A Small Leap explores how a local science outreach program that uses theatre as its medium can have an impact on science interest, general knowledge, and retention for young students. In collaboration with Attack Theatre and their existing education program, the project engages the Pittsburgh scientific and artistic community, producing a series of blog posts addressing the scientific, artistic, and STEAM communities as well as lesson plans for Attack Theatre to use in the future.
Aamer Rakla BHA 2016, Information Systems and Drama
Technology Use in Student Affairs
This project looks at how Residential Life staff use technology and where it can be optimized, to allow for staff to focus more on collaboration and creating a memorable experience for dorm students. The result was a report on the state of technology in Student Affairs and a prototype of a potential solution.
Samantha Riordan BHA 2016, Creative Writing and Architecture
Jack and Jill
A compendium of visual and narrative development for a prospective video game for children, featuring a nonfeminine girl as the protagonist and a nonbinary character as her sidekick. This project provides the basis for the art and story of a video game that would fill a void in gender representation in the industry and provide a point of reference for kids.
Diego Schaps BSA 2016, Biological Sciences and Music Technology
Biological Serialism: A Music Composition Technique using Stem Cells to Elucidate Bias in Biological Research
This project seeks to elucidate bias in scientific research by applying two different composition techniques to the same set of data. The two different songs that arose symbolize the two different conclusions that two scientists would arrive at when analyzing the same data.
This project was the production and documentation of the Lunar Gala Fashion show, a student-run organization invested in cultivating interdisciplinary creative talent within the community. This involved combining multiple disciplines in creating a brand and theme that drives the show, and incorporating those in directing and planning the show. The project addresses designing this experience as well as searching for the boundaries that can be reached with all of these disciplines within a performance.
Gabriel Shoglow-Rubenstein BHA 2016, Psychology and Music Performance with a minor in Neuroscience
Potential Effect of Music on Smokers ’ Craving: A Method for Self-Administration Control
This project consists of a comprehensive literature review relating to the potential of music to act as a cessation aid in addicted smokers, as well a proposed experimental design for such research to be conducted.
Jordan Sucher BHA 2016, Decision Science and Drama
Josza Corner: A Documentary Portrait
Alexander Josza Bodnar is a Pittsburgh institution: he runs the only Hungarian restaurant in Pittsburgh. Out of an apartment building. Josza Corner is a documentary inquiry into the history of the Hungarian Revolution, the neighborhood of Hazelwood, the politics of identity, and the ways in which we romanticize the past.
Micah Wallen BHA 2016, Ethics, History & Public Policy and Music Performance with a minor in Politics and Public Policy
The American Symphony Finale?
During the past decade, American orchestras have come upon hard times, with many suffering from lockouts and bankruptcy. The American orchestra has always been a vital part of American life and culture, and the issues affecting its economic survival affect every American. This project provides a solution to the American orchestra’s problem.
Lauren Zito BHA 2015, Psychology and Architecture with a minor in Learning Media
Making Possibilities: Maker Education Curricular Integration
Making Possibilities involves the initiation, process, and evaluation of creating a makerspace. A makerspace is an environment that encourages material and process exploration while fostering collaboration and knowledge learning and sharing. The project involved researching precedents and principles, designing spatial layout and features, and collaborating with the teachers of the Children’s School on Carnegie Mellon University’s campus, where a makerspace was created, adding value to the Children’s School, an institution that places importance on the education environment.
Rachel Asbel BHA 2015, Psychology and Architecture
The Role of Setting in Autobiographical Memories
This project is an empirical and qualitative analysis of how embodied engagement with one’s surroundings creates more powerful memories. Participants recalled memories of different settings that varied in sensory qualities, revealing that memories of highly sensory environments were more emotional and vivid.
Samuel Barton BHA 2014, Psychology and Music Technology
Critique of Conventional Psychological Approaches to the Psychology of Music
After reading a number of scholarly articles from the field of music psychology, one starts to notice that measurements of music’s emotional, experiential effects are often reductive and ill fit to the vivid range of feelings and states that music can evoke. This series of essays analyzes that issue formally and informally, making a case for integrating more nuanced, qualitative methodologies into the standard psychology toolkit.
This video game engages the player in experiencing how relationships differ, how they are similar, what behaviors, obstacles, and challenges they face, and how they overcome or fail to overcome them—to endure or collapse.
Still Burning is an original dance movie exploring the themes of love, fear, and relationships. Still Burning is told through dance because it is the ultimate form of body language. It is natural to tell a love story with the use of body movement. The medium of film gives people who would not normally see a recital a chance to experience the art form of dance in an environment that is familiar. Movies reach more audiences than live theater and making Still Burning into a movie furthers the art form of dance and gives it more exposure.
Vanessa Branch BHA 2015, Creative Writing and Art with a minor in Hispanic Studies
90s Nostalgia: Developing An Original Television Animated Series
90s Nostalgia is a show bible for an original animated television series for millennial, bilingual audiences. The show bible consists of visual development artwork such as character designs, prop designs, color tests, and the script for the pilot episode. At the quinceañera she did not want, Ruth Gonzalez receives a pet rat from her estranged, destitute father. Compelled to keep the unwanted gift by her mother, Ruth stumbles across a secret about her new pet: it is an informant for the impending rodent uprising in New York City.
A Very Clumsy Clicky Play Space is a exploratory prototype for a Pittsburgh Children’s Museum exhibition inspired by the work of beloved children’s illustrator Eric Carle. The installation plays with children’s sense of scale and curiosity, giving acoustic feedback in response to physical play. Its design is the result of an unconventional application of the user-centered research process often found in human-computer interaction.
Daniel Campos Zamora BHA 2015, Psychology and Art Minnar Xie
BHA 2015, Psychology and Art with an additional major in Human-Computer Interaction
BeSpoke is a collection of experimental audio tracks taken while conducting participatory arts workshops that reexamines the linguistic and cultural aspects of “Americanness.” The project is inspired by stories from immigrants living in Pittsburgh and studying at the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council. The mixtape combines distorted pop music, recordings of the students, and confusing American phrases and idioms in order to reinterpret patriotism and the “American” sound.
Death and Rebirth in the Stars is an astronomy-inspired sculpture about the cycles of death and rebirth observed in stars. When clouds of gas from old and dying stars gravitationally collapse to ignite the process of nuclear fusion, a new star is born from the ashes of the old ones. The sculpture mirrors this process through a shrouded human figure inside a black coffin whose mummified form glows and pulses with the energy of a bright young star being born within.
Samantha Chiu BHA 2015, Psychology and Design with a minor in Human-Computer Interaction Rift
Rift juxtaposes natural processes and synthetic materials by capturing chaotic geological phenomena in rigid plastic forms. The clothing line is composed of three looks, each of which captures a still moment in nature but still appears to be moving and alive.
Bringing western “sustainable” ideas and technologies as solutions to the Global South’s problems is contested. Instead, can sustainability be redefined by different histories and cultures? Focusing on Latin America, this project aims to shifts those roles. By showcasing architectural examples from Latin America—like informal grassroots initiatives—it proposes new ways to inform western sustainability.
Rosalyn Denton BHA 2015, Japanese Studies and Art with a minor in Music Technology Coexistence
This project features a live trio composed of a pianist, cellist, and drummer playing an original piece. Curated digital images are projected onto the musical performers to tell a story of the coexistence between the mechanic and organic.
Anna Failla BHA 2015, Ethics, History, & Public Policy and Architecture
Assembly, Activism, and Architecture
This installation of human figures is covered in quotes from student interviews on various political or social topics and displayed prominently in public spaces. When people utilize their rights to the first amendments, specifically the right to assemble, they are performing an act of guerrilla architecture. They create a temporary partition, which alters the circulation paths of passersby, who are now forced to engage in the assembler’s cause by actively responding or avoiding the barrier of people.
Alexa Goetz BSA 2015, Biological Sciences and Music Performance
Music in the Pediatric Dental Office
Music is played in nearly every dental office in the country, yet most of the music chosen is not tailored to enhance the patients’ experiences. As music has proven to be successful in helping alleviate anxiety experienced by patients in various clinical settings, this paper investigates how different types of music affect children’s behavior while getting a dental procedure.
Elizabeth Imas BHA 2015, Linguistics and Art with an additional major in Human-Computer Interaction
Telling stories is all about transferring your idea to another person and trying to make sure it remains intact as much as possible when in transfer. This series of short comics explores how best to bridge that communicative gap through the visual and verbal combination of comics, using a variety of media and techniques.
This children’s book series is about historical people, animals, and inventions. It aims to break the stereotype that history is boring for kids through the use of typography and illustration.
Jacob Klingensmith BCSA 2015, Computer Science and Architecture
Interactive Alphabet Blocks
Play with alphabet blocks and learn language! The “rules” the interactive blocks follow physically line up with patterns that are present in language. By playing with the blocks, children will internalize these patterns.
Katherine Lee BHA 2015, Chinese Studies and Art with a minor in Communication Design With,
“Intimacy and solitude. At once a declaration of that which we yearn for, and the unconscious acknowledgement of our fears.” With, is a series of events across different platforms that use the senses as a tool to convey the concept of the coexistence between intimacy and solitude. At With, events, seeing, smelling, tasting, and touching harmonize with carefully curated music to allow the viewers to experience human emotions in an unconventional way. Experiencing feelings through the five senses gives a deeper, introspective understanding.
Extraordinary is a two-minute trailer for a feature-length screenplay, which tells the story of a woman with supernatural abilities. She is enabled by an enigmatic organization to test the limits of her strength, but as their tactics grow more brutal, she must take responsibility for her own power in order to achieve true independence. The spec scene emphasizes the heart of the full story and serves as a crucial first step in the development of the feature film.
Monica Ly BHA 2015, Psychology and Music Performance with a minor in Cognitive Neuroscience
Restoration of Motor and Cognitive Function via Lithium Treatment in Rats with Experimental Traumatic Brain Injury
Lithium has been a common treatment for bipolar disorder for several decades, but it also shows promise as a treatment for traumatic brain injury due to its protective effects against cell death. This project tested lithium’s ability to reduce motor and memory deficits caused by traumatic brain injury in a rat model.
Bridget M. McCoy BHA 2015, Hispanic Studies and Music Performance
This project was a concert of early Spanish music dating from 1275-1575. The goal of the project was to explore the effect that the takeover of the Spanish Catholic kings had on the music of the country. The program was prepared by Bridget McCoy and sung by School of Music musicians.
Kyna McIntosh BCSA 2014, Computer Science and Art Mark Strelow
BCSA 2014, Computer Science and Art with a minor in Japanese Studies
Gaze is an experimental video game that explores the relationship between player and perspective through a unique mechanic. The player can implant the “gaze” of the main character into other characters in order to see through their eyes, while maintaining control of the movement of the main character. This allows for complex puzzle solving that involves coordination between movement and sight.
Divya Mouli BCSA 2015, Computer Science and Music Technology
Automatic Carnatic Raaga Classifier
This project explores the use of machine learning techniques in the classification of Carnatic Raagas, which are musical modes of the South Indian classical music style. The culmination of this research is the development of an application which accepts audio input and returns a classification of its musical mode, as determined by statistical models and manual user classification. The further development of such an application will hopefully provide a learning tool to those hoping to master the art of Raaga classification.
Laura Paik BHA 2015, English and Art
Learning to Teach: Using a Student-Led Course as Preparation for a Teaching Career
Laura Paik chose to teach a StuCo (Student-Led Course) on Gothic Literature and the Scary Story. The goal is to use the experience as a way to practice and improve at teaching for a potential career as a high school English teacher. While teaching she took note of strengths and weaknesses, tried out different ways of conducting classes, and asked students to fill out several evaluations through the semester. Laura gained useful experience and insights that she can use going forward in her teaching career.
Guts, A New Musical written by Brad Plaxen and composed by Alex Petti, takes place ten years after the zombie apocalypse. Survivors in an underground bunker must break their routines when an outsider enters, forcing them to confront their fears and to question what it means to be alive. When it comes to living after the zombie apocalypse, who is really dead: them or us?
Sejal Popat BHA 2015, Logic & Computation and Art with a minor in History CMU Stories
CMU Stories is a series of paintings and recorded interviews with members of the CMU community. The work shares the perspectives and stories of students, faculty, and staff through painted images paired with audio excerpts that revolve around the subjects’ interests and backgrounds.
Samuel Poulos BHA 2015, Film & Media Studies and Art
The Nicene Creed as Recited by a Confused Orthodox Christian Underwater
This project is an attempt to illustrate the relative ease of entering into a new state of being, awareness, or consciousness through religious rituals. It argues for a similar element of effortlessness when one attempts to connect with a past life of theirs.
A two-part Capstone project, the historical research paper analyzes the role female country music stars, specifically Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, and Tammy Wynette, played in bringing feminist thought to the south. Though they rose to fame during the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s, they did not openly identify as feminists or participate actively in the movement. Still, they used their music to empower themselves and others by generating a dedicated and mainly female fan base. The project was also accompanied by an installation, a feminist homage to Dolly Parton and a celebration of extreme femininity as subversive.
This project is an interactive blog for musicians entering the industry who are seeking information or advice. Many music students graduate with little experience in creating their own brand, organizing their performance schedule, or managing their finances. This website will provide insight on these and other important skills. The website will focus mainly on information for young classical singers.
Jolyn Sandford BCSA 2015, Computer Science and Art Andrew Sweet BCSA 2015, Computer Science and Art Ctrl+Art+Critique
Ctrl+Art+Critique is a series of Let’s Play videos on YouTube attempting to bridge the gap between the gaming world and the art world. Its primary goals are to legitimize video games as an artform, introduce the language of art to a broader audience, and critically analyze a diverse set of games.
Buggy crash testing is a research project into the effects of dangerous crashes in Buggy, based on previous crash record analysis. A crash test dummy was used to test the structure and momentum of the buggies during a crash and the impact force on the driver. The results can help to inform safety and construction standards.
Catherine Schwartz BSA 2015, Physics and Drama
Interactive Gravity Museum Exhibit
This theoretical interactive exhibit is designed to teach gravity to young children at a science museum. Several exhibit pieces are drawn to scale along with written descriptions and intended learning outcomes.
Sam Smith BSA 2015, Physics and Music Performance
Digitar: Dynamically Interactive Guitar Implementing Tonal Automation Robotics
As many as eighty percent of adults wish they could play a musical instrument. The goal of this self-playing robotic guitar is for non-musicians to interact with a guitar in a meaningful way.
Hyo Seul (Grace) Sohn BHA 2015, Psychology and Music Performance
The Effect of Music Therapy in Improving Communication Skills and Happiness for a Child with CHARGE Syndrome
This project is a case study that explores the effect of music therapy in improving communication skills and feelings of happiness for a child who has CHARGE Syndrome.
This project inflated a large bubble-tent in different parks in Pittsburgh and hosted musical shows in an attempt to foster community between unlikely participants. The shows took place in Mellon Park and Friendship Park. This project studied how bubble:PGH works as a new type of venue that is useable in the Pittsburgh area as well as other cities.
Isabella Weiss BHA 2014, Linguistics and Music Performance with a minor in Business Administration
Music, the Universal Language?
The purpose of this research project is to determine the truth to familiar phrase, “music is the universal language.” It explores the syntactic, semantic, cognitive, and theoretical ramifications of music, under all aspects of both linguistics and music. The hypothesis is that music is in fact not a language, much less a universal one. However, music does indeed have a certain, informal kind of syntactic structure and can be used to convey emotion within a culture. It therefore can be said to have semantic meaning. However, neither comes close to the full structure required of a language. The way in which the human brain undergoes musical cognition is entirely different from the way people cognate language.
Anna Wettergreen BHA 2015, Psychology and Art with a minor in Business Administration
Psychology through Shoes
Principles of psychology are often confusing to understand in written form and would benefit from being presented visually. Shoes are expressive of gender, personality, and other personal identifiers, making them useful tools to represent people. This project unites these elements in a series of photographs of shoes arranged to convey principles of psychology.
Rachel Willen BSA 2015, Biological Sciences and Art
The Model Organism
This project is a photographic exhibit at the Center for PostNatural History. The focus is on the concept of the model organism and its use in biological research, specifically Arabidopsis Thaliana, the fruit fly, and the chicken embryo.
Yu Zhao BHA 2014, Psychology and Photography
Still Lifes from Nowhere
Images demonstrate the fragmentation of space and how it can be re-established to echo the narrative content of the human imagination. Pictures shot at different locales show details without a larger perspective to narrate the tension of a place stranded in thought. The viewers may imagine multiple scenarios to fill in the incomplete nature of the photograph. The pictures are accompanied by texts sourced from user commentaries to illustrate the comfort, confinement, or repulse felt by the various environments. This project could shed light on how environments are interpreted, which in turn exposes the archetypes of form within society.
Andrew Biar BCSA 2014, Computer Science and Music Technology
Getting a Kickstart: Investigating Best Practices for Crowd-funded Video Game Studios
Crowd-funding is a powerful and growing means of financing creative projects. By learning from the mistakes and successes of video game studios that have attempted to crowd-fund their work, more informed decisions can be made to ensure the financial success of a project and the satisfaction of the supporters.
Hanbbit Chang BHA 2014, Creative Writing and Art
Poetry in Memory: An Illustrated Series
This series of illustrated poems, or “poemed” illustrations, reflect on my obsessions in how I deal with memory and how memory itself functions in the human mind. The project features several pieces that draw off associations, phrases, and images that have recurred in my past or my attempts at remembering the past. Imitating the way our minds process and recount such associations, fusing impressionistic poetry and fluid, collaged illustrations aim to become metaphor for memory, a process people intuitively use and often take for granted.
Laura Contero BHA 2014, Film & Media Studies and Architecture with a minor in Business Administration
Pulse: An Experiment on Context and Setting
In this film set in an ordinary restaurant, a waitress, a professor, and a young man conduct their daily business. But behind the utensils, cash registers, and cookware, lies a manipulated story, and the spectator soon learns that these three individuals represent more than their visual personas suggest. Combining research done on cinema structuralism and the ideas based in repurposed architecture, this film explores the denotation (literal meaning) and connotation (evaluative meaning) relationship between the environment and the characters on screen.
Danielle Dong BHA 2014, Ethics, History, & Public Policy and Architecture
Building Beyond Value and Perception: How Architecture Can Actively Affect Urban Change Processes
Urban architecture in all its varied forms is not a passive physical quality of areas; it does not influence change within a city until after these transformations have already begun, but can actively affect the way urban change develops. Whether creating an image for certain districts, acting as focal points around which people form identities, producing economic opportunities for people and businesses, the architecture and spatial qualities of the urban environment plays an important multidimensional role in shaping the changes occurring in cities such as Pittsburgh.
Emily Faber BHA 2013, Creative Writing and Art
The Creation of Identity
The Creation of Identity explores the memories formed during a two-year time period of a long-distance relationship. In a series of fictional books, a girl writes her memories from times she spent with her boyfriend and times she spent eight hours away. Through the small moments in their lives, the books create a portrait of each character, and of their relationship. The project explores how people remember and what people forget.
Sarah Gao BHA 2014, Psychology and Design
On Natural Curiosities: Discovering the Animal World through Self-Motivation
On Natural Curiosities is a book of perplexing individual animal stories told through detailed illustrations and simple one-line captions. Each spread challenges the reader’s preconceptions, leaving them unsettled and seeking to fill the gaps in their knowledge. By creating a self-directed and therefore more effective learning experience, the book inspires further interest in animals and stimulates senses of wonder, curiosity, and connection with the natural world.
Emily Gibson BHA 2014, History and Drama with an additional major in English
Incubator & Pioneer: The Carnegie Tech Department of Dramatic Arts
This digital exhibit celebrates the foundation and early years of the first degree-granting program in drama, the Carnegie Tech Department of Dramatic Arts. Through textually supported archival images, the exhibit tells the story of Tech’s drama program and its founder, pioneers in theatre, education, and the history of Carnegie Mellon.
Samuel Gruber BCSA 2014, Computer Science and Architecture
Construct: Programming with Geometry
Construct presents a design for programming with examples using a geometric syntax. By engaging the spatial reasoning of programmers, this new method can broaden the field of computer programming to accept more contributions from visual and spatial thinkers.
Kayla Heglas BHA 2014, Professional Writing and Art
Diary of a Chair: A Methodology for Defining Absence, Space, and Self
The work is an exploration of space through inhabitance and absence. These aspects are reviewed through research done in Gestalt Theory, through interviews, and self-exploration. The handmade chair was placed in spaces that are relevant to the growth of myself over time, my house and my grandmother’s house. The signature piece utilizes both photography and writing, and results in an artist book and hand-built chair.
Through the lens of word-game-play, this project looks at aspects of recombination and mechanization in language. Working within the conceptual realms of digital poetics and new media writing, this animated poem focuses on translation as it occurs in meaning and space. Influenced by the work of poets Georg Philipp Harsdörffer and Raymond Queneau, this language game explores the techniques of constraint and deformance in writing.
Angela Lo BSA 2014, Biological Sciences and Music Performance
Reassessing the Debate Regarding Maurice Ravel’s Last Compositions and his Neurological Degeneration
Maurice Ravel was one of France’s most notable musicians who suffered from a neurological disorder late in his life. Musical historians and neurologists have hypothesized his diagnosis and how such deterioration may have impacted his last works. This research paper tries to evaluate this debate and discusses how some of the arguments presented may not be completely valid.
Janet Lorenz BHA 2014, Environmental Studies and Art, Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering
Empathy and the Environment
Through art and personal experience, this work seeks to explore the evolving definition of environmentalism and what it means to be an environmentalist.
From the time Margo bought 58881/2 Ellsworth Avenue and renovated it to make the Margo Lovelace Marionette Theatre, the focus of her work was what she called the “Magic of Puppetry.” In Celebration of Margo Lovelace is a mural, documentary, workshop, and event designed to honor Shadyside’s first artist.
Korey Marshall BSA 2013, Biological Sciences and Music Performance with a minor in Biomedical Engineering
This project demonstrates creative problem solving through improvisation and thinking creatively about available resources.
Anna Mohr BSA 2014, Physics and Art
Art, Science, and the Sublime
This project deals with the concept of advertising science through posters and t-shirts. By entertaining and educating an audience to both science and art, these products hope to raise awareness in scientists and artists on the importance of each others disciplines. The focus is to enable scientists to see art for what it truly is, and to get artists to see what science truly is, to raise awareness of the absolute mind-blowing quality of science.
Erica Moore BSA 2014, Biological Sciences and Music Performance
Uncertainty in Medicine: A Case Study in Autoimmunity
Within medicine, clinicians and scientists are continually addressing uncertainty in medicine. Using autoimmunity as a case study, the paper addresses how autoimmunity and its disorders became universally accepted followed by a discussion on today’s model for diagnosing and managing autoimmune disorders. By doing so, it demonstrates how knowledge within complex diseases is continually changing with scientist’s different interpretation.
Anna Nelson BHA 2014, Creative Writing and Art
Cyborg Identity at the Borders
The term cyborg occupies a conceptual space on the border of the human and the machine. This essay explores how the cyborg, as a whole made up of disparate parts, is used as a powerful metaphor for identity construction by artists working in a similar conceptual space—the border between nations as a site rather than a divide. These artists revel in the unique cultures created at junctures, not just geopolitical, but also metaphorical. By proposing alternate visions of the future, they open minds to myriad cacophonous projections, which change the way people think about and create their future.
Prisca Ohito BHA 2013, Public Policy and Architecture
Homelessness in Pittsburgh: EECM as an Ethnographic Case Study
This case study enabled professionals to understand the experience of homelessness through communicating essential terms and descriptions of the East End Cooperative Ministrie’s Housing Services shelters. To design constructive solutions for the homeless, I suggested reframing how professionals understand personal values. The individual descriptions of privacy, control, and choice help illuminate issues that non-profit organizations face when addressing homelessness. A better understanding of the topic is the foundation for success of future collaborations.
Catherine Paquette BHA 2014, Environmental Studies and Architecture with a minor in Professional Writing
Upgrades to Campus Lighting through Occupancy Sensors and Daylighting
This senior capstone project demonstrates how lighting energy efficiency can be improved in Carnegie Mellon academic buildings with occupancy/vacancy sensors and daylighting. These strategies are simple to implement and relatively inexpensive. Occupancy sensors and daylighting reduce a building’s energy consumption without affecting students, faculty or staff and can also improve light quality.
Elena Peterson BSA 2014, Biological Sciences and Art with a minor in French and Francophone Studies
Creativity Across Disciplines
This collection of interviews is meant to examine the concept of creativity and how it manifests itself within different disciplines. While creativity has traditionally been thought of as a property of the arts, this book hopes to show the omnipresence of this quality throughout different fields. Carnegie Mellon professors from various departments were interviewed, each giving their own perspective on what it means to be creative within their area of study.
Brian Pettitt-Schieber BHA 2014, Global Studies and Drama with a minor in Hispanic Studies
Think About Something Else
Concern for the well-being of future generations of humans is broadening in social consciousness and it expresses itself in various forms in the urban landscape: through public and private initiatives, personal consumption choices, and protest. This project records and provides access to this dialogue on the causes and consequences of climate change that has proliferated throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Juddson Poeske BHA 2014, Decision Science and Music Performance
Modeling Venture Decisions: Improving Venture Capital Investment Decisions through Actuarial Models
This paper presents a review of evidence suggesting experts fall prey to cognitive biases, how models outperform human decision-makers almost every time, and how venture capitalists might improve their investment decisions through the use of actuarial models.
Madeleine Robson BSA 2014, Mathematical Sciences and Architecture with a minor in Business Administration
Looking to the Past for a Future of Sustainability: An Exploration of the Energy Based Design Solutions of the Vernacular Architecture of the Southwest
The project intends to locate design qualities within the pre-industrial architectural history of a region within the United States and show the quantitative impact such traits have on a building’s performance.
Anna Shepperson BHA 2014, Anthropology and Art
Mujeres Creando: Anarchy and Aesthetics in Bolivian Feminist Protest
Mujeres Creando, or “women creating,” is an anarchist, feminist group in Bolivia that uses performance actions, or acciones, as a means of advocating political and social change in what they view as the patriarchal state of Bolivian politics and social structure. This paper will link decolonial feminism with embodied performance to talk about Mujeres Creando’s performances as anti-capitalist actions that target individuals and appropriate the language of the oppressor to confront a patriarchal state.
Evan Shimizu BCSA 2014, Computer Science and Drama
Lumiverse: Lighting Control for Everyone
This project provides a framework for controlling primarily theatrical systems of lighting devices without requiring a specialized console to do so. This enables the creation of novel interfaces for lighting control as well as more dynamic lighting installations.
Andrew Staiger BHA 2014, Creative Writing and Architecture with a minor in Professional Writing
Traditional literature is a set, linear form. Morphic literature adds the properties of architecture into literature: space and time. This is achieved by manipulating how and when text is displayed, and how the reader interacts with it. Morphic literature thus moves reading from a passive to active engagement.
Jill Steiner BHA 2013, Decision Science and Art
Domesticated Spirits: A Feminine Recontextualization of the Liquor Industry
Through a curated event that highlighted characteristics of femininity, Domesticated Spirits proves the undeniable links between femininity and the liquor industry. By drawing attention to these similarities, the event simultaneously highlights the historical disparities in the way that the liquor industry has developed to comprise a vast majority of males over females.
Jessica Waldman BSA 2014, Biological Sciences and Art
A Genetic Blueprint for the Future of Fashion: A Study of the Commoditization of Human Traits and Abnormalities
This project is a collection of fashion images compiled into De Novo magazine, a magazine with a direct focus on the commercialization of physical curiosities in combination with content that speaks about genetic abnormalities, desirable physical values, and the history of the fashion industry’s use of unique traits to sell a product. The final product is a mock magazine featuring commercially styled photography that can serve as a prototype for the packaging and commercialization of extreme manipulation of the human form.
Eliana Weiner BHA 2014, Psychology and Architecture
A Full-Scale Kaleidoscope: Bridging Architecture and Psychology
One’s environment affects mood, productivity, or focus. This project explores the relationship between simple spatial and environmental cues and how one internalizes them on an emotional and cognitive level. The Full-Scale Kaleidoscope installation created a momentary experience instilling an awareness of one’s self in the space, both physically and mentally. An independent paper analyzed components most valued in spaces, particularly student lounges and collaborative spaces. Aesthetic changes and spatial factors influence the success of the space and activity of the user.
Emma Young BHA 2014, Decision Science and Art with a minor in Industrial Design
Wireframe: Becoming a User Experience Designer
In a time where the public is inundated with visual junk—good design stands out. It drives competition, innovation, and value. But as we stand in this new era of design, how does a potential designer determine what their role will truly encompass? This series of visual exercises explores how one designer chose to define the field as a whole, and their specific role in it.
Philip Zakko BSA 2014, Biological Sciences and Music Performance
Examining the Psychophysiological Response to Pitch-Range Manipulations in Music
Music serves a wide variety of functions, from the pleasure of listening to its therapeutic uses; however, an aspect of music that is not well understood is how music’s frequency range can elicit various emotional responses. Through collecting self-reports and analyzing the skin conductance human subjects who listened to various generated musical excerpts, this project sought to determine the correlation between frequency and valence and arousal. These results will be used to help people understand how music shapes human behavior and responses, and to look further into music’s therapeutic abilities, from relieving stress to depression.
Software development and theatrical design are two project-based creative industries with many interesting similarities in terms of both the projects undertaken and the people who work on them.
An examination of the practices that project managers utilize while overseeing these projects and people reveals potential effectiveness improvement methods and helpful insights into the creative process.
Harrison Apple BHA 2013, Global Studies and Art
Lucky’s House of Tilden: Gay and Lesbian Social Club Community in Post-war Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh’s post-war gay and lesbian history documents the emergence of a gay and lesbian community through the manipulation of the otherwise unquestioned historic relationship between homosexuals and organized crime. This essay follows the life of Lucky, one of the oldest living members of Pittsburgh’s gay community, whose infiltration of the local mafia-run bar and social club demimonde resulted in the creation of protected subcultural space for sexual minorities. These spaces gave rise to a continuing system of mutual protection, which proved crucial during the culture wars and the 1980s AIDS epidemic.
Sankalp Bhatnagar BSA 2013, Mathematical Sciences and Design
Marketing Inspiration: A Viral Call to Action
This project is a campaign that utilizes viral marketing techniques to inspire this generation to live a more fulfilling life during time in college, taking advantage of campus identity, the city culture, and various distinct opportunities that await should students seek to live inspired lives.
Sarah Ceurvorst BHA 2013, Psychology and Art
From Ashes to Art: A Consideration of the Funerary Rites Given to People with HIV in Thailand
Funerary rites are a reflection and reinforcement of cultural norms and social values. Using the Buddhist temple and HIV hospice of Wat Prah Baht Nam Phu as a case study, the paper explores the ways that funerary rites can serve to bolster stigma against HIV/AIDS and how people can serve to combat it in Thailand.
Caroline Colombo BSA 2013, Physics and Art
Engaged Learning: The Intersection of Science and Art Museum Exhibit Design
This research is based on the similarities and differences between art and scientific museum exhibit design, and what each can learn from the other, in order to create optimal interdisciplinary museum exhibit design considerations.
Molly Cook BHA 2013, Hispanic Studies and Art
Funes the Memorious: A Visual Translation
This graphic novel reaches across textual, visual, and linguistic boundaries while striving for integration and compensation for losses in translation between English and Spanish. In translating Jorge Luis Borge’s Funes the Memorious, both the story and the process of translation are narrated to the viewer, using visual imagery to compensate for the complications in translation.
Alexander DeRonde BHA 2013, Decision Science and Design
Italian luxury brands are renowned for creating the illusion of a glamorous and exclusive lifestyle–a dream factor–by producing lines of clothing and accessories suited for a particular type of individual. In result, brand allegiances and the way an individual decides to dress is not only representative of their sense of style, but also suggests aspects of their character. The deck of cards features depictions of handcrafted miniature dresses, made to resemble the signature styles of various Italian designers.
Rachel Franz BHA 2013, Cognitive Science and Architecture with an additional major in Human-Computer Interaction
Three-Dimensional Mental Representations of Space
The installation applies research in spatial cognition to create an interesting and potentially informative experience for viewers. The installation attempts to shed light on viewers’ mental representations of space where movement occurs in both horizontal and vertical dimensions by identifying the aspects of the experience that impose spatial cognitive demands. Live video images from digital video cameras placed at various locations in the College of Fine Arts stairwell were manipulated and projected onto a wall above the stairs. Volunteers were asked to indicate the locations of the cameras in a questionnaire.
Danuta Krystyna Genser BCSA 2013, Computer Science and Architecture
Descriptive Geometry Study Application
Descriptive Geometry is a required first-year course in Architecture that students have continued to struggle with it since its reinstatement. The creation of this self-study tool examined what makes for an effective learning experience of two-dimensional representations of three dimensions. The result is an integrated learning environment for students to test personal questions about, and interact directly and accurately with, the course material.
Suvi Marissa Gluskin BHA 2012, Psychology and Music Performance with a minor in Global Systems Management
Autism and Music: A Discussion of the Causes of Autism Spectrum Disorders and an Exploration of Music and Its Use as an Effective Tool in Treating Autistic Behaviors in Young Children
This thesis provides an exploration into the world of a child with autism spectrum disorder. It delves into an explanation of the onset of autism, including the genetic differentiation between a healthy child and a child with autism, as well as the recently discovered environmental factors allegedly contributing to the disorder. The project recognizes the growing use of music to treat children with autism and target associated behaviors. Music therapy has become an amazing tool, helping children with autism adjust to societal norms and express themselves in ways otherwise impossible.
Jillian Goodwyn BHA 2013, Psychology and Art
Healing Through Needle Felting
This project is the creation of a five-week class to teach needle felting for individuals who engage in Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs), such as hair-pulling, skin-picking, and nailbiting. Personally, this craft has been helpful, and teaching the technique of needle felting to help lower anxiety can help mitigate these behaviors in others.
An internship as a primate keeper at the Pittsburgh Zoo inspired the creation of and play-tested experimental computer interfaces for orangutans. The experience encompassed the fields of animal
husbandry, human-computer interaction, arts-based research, cognitive psychology, and ethics resulting in changed thoughts about animals. In the face of extreme difference, the research led to questioning the possibility of true understanding and reflects on what it means to be human.
Emily Henderson BSA 2013, Biological Sciences and Music Performance
The Formation of Esters and Other Byproducts during Beer Fermentation: The Effects of Yeast Strain and Pitching Rate on Flavor Profile
The purpose of this research was to better understand the relationship between the flavor profile of beer and its chemical composition. Since yeast is most strongly responsible for the flavor compounds of beer, the experimentation involved manipulation of yeast type and amount in order to qualify the differences in the resulting taste. The results emphasized the usefulness of chemical analysis to ensure beer quality and consistency.
Michael Julian BSA 2013, Biological Sciences and Art
Illustrating Biological Processes through Animation
Life is made possible by countless dynamic, complex processes working in conjunction with one another. Research in the field of biology is focused on learning about these mechanisms, how they work, why they break and ultimately how people can fix, change or use them. Teaching about these processes is hindered since they occur on a scale that is often unable to be directly observed. For this reason this project creates animations of biological processes in a way that can be more easily understood as well as being intrinsically beautiful as nature intended, educational and yet pleasing to watch.
Sara Keats BHA 2013, Creative Writing and Drama
Jew Food: Food, Memory, and Meaning in My Jewish Experience
This thesis is based on observations of the present relationship between Jewish-American cuisine and Jewish-American identity, and how and why Reform Jewish-Americans can simultaneously identify as Jewish, while not being particularly loyal to the faith or feeling connected to more conservative sects of Judaism.
Erica Lazrus BCSA 2013, Computer Science and Architecture
Code-Runner is a demonstration of how video games can be used to teach sophisticated and complicated subject matter in an educational, engaging, and easily accessible manner, particularly in the medical field where there is a need for simulated reality. The product, which simulates the decision-making process of an emergency or Intensive Care Unit physician, is in collaboration with two physician partners. Programmable game-play and interface design of real-world scenarios can be easily updated and supplemented as new information is learned in the field.
Joshua Levitin BHA 2013, Professional Writing and Musicology & Cultural Studies
Promoting Performance: The Language and Identity of the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble
This project focuses on the use of language as a tool for educating audiences rather than marketing a brand to persuade audiences to come to concerts. Education is thought to be a more effective means of communication because it brings audience and organization together on similar terms not only about the “artistic product” (Nytch), but perhaps more importantly the music. The Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble and other ensembles may benefit from this assessment because it explores an alternative approach to audience engagement, one that enriches the role of nonprofit music organizations as educators.
This comic book story is based on old adventure pulps. Using elements from fantasy stories and Norse mythology, it explores questions about the limits and motivations behind human curiosity, couched in a fun story. Structurally, it builds off the recent history of interesting panel and layout treatments in modern comics.
Melody Lu BHA 2013, Global Systems Management and Music Performance with a minor in Chinese Studies
The Arts and Entertainment Industry in Contemporary China
Before China’s rapid economic growth, there were not as many opportunities for the Chinese people to immerse themselves into the arts; however, China now has some of the world’s best museums and concert venues. The Chinese people are now going to more classical music concerts, watching more movies in theaters, visiting more museums, and attending more Broadway shows.
Brindusa Andreea Manolache BSA 2013, Mathematical Sciences and Architecture
An Interactive Algorithmic Design Tool
For architects, one of the first phases of design involves developing strategies for optimizing organizational elements of the design problem. This project aims to test human intuition against objective optimization strategies produced algorithmically by designing a tool for experimentation with different optimization strategies and their effectiveness. The tool will be a fun and explorative approach to design, not meant to make decisions for the designer, but meant to inspire by presenting possible solutions to architectural problems from a new, algorithmic perspective.
Esther Michaels BHA 2013, Visual & Material Culture and Art with minors in Business Administration and Photography
Flo Fox: Archiving the Artist
Flo Fox is an amazing artist, a crusader for woman’s rights and equality for the physically and mentally disabled, and an inspiring individual. Fox was born blind in one eye, has since lost sight in the other eye, been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and cancer, and has lost mobility. After over forty years photographing, Fox’s collection of negatives numbers in the hundreds of thousands and is not properly maintained. This project is the culmination of a year spent traveling between New York and Pittsburgh in the attempt to provide the photographer with a permanent archive of photographic work.
Paul Miller BCSA 2013, Computer Science and Art
TreeLab: Particle-Based 3D Modeling Tool
This project partially automates the creation of 3D models containing details which are semantically descriptive yet tedious to craft by hand. It is a tool that defines the geometries of trees using particles, which exert forces on each other. This allows visually appealing details to be created pseudo randomly, requiring less human labor.
Emma Olsen BHA 2013, Creative Writing and Art with a minor in Global Systems Management
Android Grizzly Bear of the Dead
This project focuses on the concept of consciousness and artificial intelligence, exploring what it means to have awareness and then lose it completely. The video game was meant to be both entertaining and intellectual, attempting to straddle both.
Benjamin Pattison-Gordon BHA 2013, Ethics and Architecture
Ethics of Sprawl
Suburban and urban sprawl lead to a variety of undesirable environmental and social detriments. Given these effects, what are the ethical implications of continuing to support the design and construction of low-density housing? Are personal ethical responsibilities different from society’s responsibilities in this regard?
In America, the gap between college entry and completion is growing, disadvantaging low-income and minority students from America’s urban public high schools for whom higher education might not have been previously accessible. This project proposes a strategy for using currently existing free resources to support the entire college search and application process.
In WindowBox, the player takes the role of a young woman who possesses the power to manipulate brains. The character can activate and inhibit different areas of the minds of other individuals in the environment. Though trial and error, the player
learns about the various lobes of the brain and what happens when things go wrong.
Isabel Smith-Bernstein BHA 2013, History and Drama
Adaptation of Henry VI
The Henry VI cycle is three very long plays by William Shakespeare. This project cuts and adapts the three plays into one three-hour play. The play focuses on Margaret, Richard, and the smaller characters such as Jack Cade in order to provide a comprehensive backdrop for Richard III, which makes much more sense when it follows the three plays designed to come before it.
Johanna Söderlund BHA 2013, Anthropology and Music Performance with a minor in Music Education
Music and Social Change: From Refugees to Urban Youth
It is a well-known fact that music and the arts can change lives. This project aims to go beyond that idea and confront the question: “How?” What can we do with music to impact people in dire situations? Several case studies examine the needs of people and their situation, and ask how music can be used in an effective way to equip them for a better future. A basic model for an effective program that implements music in a way that needs of the particular demographic of people, be it refugees or urban youth is presented.
Beautiful Organs is a campaign to engage viewers in the aesthetics of their internal workings. Current health advertising fixates on the external appearance and how it contributes to one’s overall happiness and longevity. This campaign utilizes aesthetic-based consumerism by creating wants and needs to better align with our medical understanding of healthy bodies. It is a look inside your body–what do you do with your heart at the end of the day?
This series of pen drawings is a response to the story of “The Great God Pan” published by Arthur Machen in 1894. It is a fourpart life cycle of the story’s primary character and antagonist, Helen Vaughan, the product of the union between beast and man.
Carolyn Supinka BHA 2013, Creative Writing and Art
Between the Person and the Page: Exploring the Modern Day Spiritual Journey through Writing and Art
“The House of Your Dreams” project is composed of three experiments combining writing and art, which explore various facets of the modern day spiritual journey. Spiritual journeys are everywhere. Trips to the grocery store are like searching for nirvana. Clothes shopping. Getting a new haircut. Trying to cure oneself of an ailment. Trying to become a better person.
Molly Swartz BHA 2013, Psychology and Design
Parental Self-Efficacy in First-Time Expectant Mothers
Parental self-efficacy has been consistently linked with positive outcomes for parents and children. This project studies predictors and correlates of parental self-efficacy by creating and conducting an online survey geared toward first time expectant parents. A research paper, poster session, and discussion explore how relationships and expectancies can support new parents.
This ethrographic design study is focused on finding areas of profitability opportunity in mobile phone development through the lens of gender distinction.
Mary Tsang BSA 2013, Biological Sciences and Art with a minor in Environmental Science Plants of the Future
This interdisciplinary project addresses today’s environmental issues through the artistic metaphor of scientific spectacle. By combining an aeroponic system, custom-blown glass vessels, and a six-foot satellite dish, this final piece is a symbolic reversal of one of the most primitive natural processes: the uptake of water by the roots of plants as they blossom towards the sun and sky.
Aimee Van Varick BHA 2013, Psychology and Architecture
How Light and Dimension Affect Emotional Perception of Space
In the architecture field, it seems to recently be a popular idea that bigger spaces are better. This psychological study explores how the size or light intensity of a space affects the positivity of a person’s emotional response to that space.
Courtney Wittekind BHA 2013, Anthropology and Art with a minor in Professional Writing
Extending Anthropology: Visual Research Practices and New Media Presentation
Drawing on text and image-based content from research in Thailand and Burma, this project explores how multimedia anthropological research may be presented in a way that does not graft text-based models onto new terrain, but rather commits to varied methods of communication and highlights emerging practices in post-modern anthropology, including: non-linearity, transparency, multi-vocality, and collaborative creation and production.
Ashley Baker BHA 2012,
Decision Science and Art
Crushed: Stages of Grief, Media Representations, and Personal Catalysts in Overcoming Loss
This project is an investigation into how to use art and artistic means as a creative vehicle to deal with and overcome grief. It consists of artistic inquiry, production, and psychological research compiled into a photographic narrative book. Drawing on visual and textual elements that seek to aid in the healing process, to inform the public about the realities of grieving in the culture of the 21st century, and to inject compassion back into loss.
This project puts a modern twist on the ancient process of illuminating manuscripts by combining traditional techniques from the Golden Age of Illumination with digital media and performance. It aims to integrate the warmth and intimacy of an
original manuscript with the luminescence of digital photography and human interaction. By incorporating poetry written on the spot for specific people as part of several live performances, the manuscript takes on the warmth of a living, changing entity that responds to people’s lives and stories in real time.
Amelia Cessna BHA 2012,
Hispanic Studies and Music Performance
Music Education and Social Participation: The Strengthening of Communities in Chile and Venezuela through Youth Orchestra Programs
Two Latin American youth orchestra foundations that promote social change, one in Venezuela and the other in Chile, are studied for impact on community social participation. Analyses of difference between the musical programs, along with the cultural and socio-economic landscape of each nation, investigate how each program contributes to social change and community participation.
Michael Chait BSA 2012,
Biological Sciences and Music Performance
Music and the Brain
This project examines how the brain processes music listening, performance, and composition. Better understanding how music is processed can ultimately provide insight into individual motives, fears, desires, memories, and communication methods.
Christine de Carteret BHA 2012,
History and Architecture with a minor in French and Francophone Studies
Society in the Sitcom: A Multimedia Guide to the Reflections of Contemporary Politics and Culture in Arrested Development
There is a tendency in the study of history and society to write off popular comedy as culturally lacking and unimportant. This project demonstrates how the television show Arrested Development encapsulated the popular culture and political climate of its era (2003-2006) through the use of clever references and comedic “easter eggs.” Including video, graphic, and written components, this exhibit promotes historical discovery through entertainment.
Tome Efrati-Saidon BHA 2012,
Psychology and Art
Galactic, biological abstract drawings explore the spontaneity of art before the development of representational art. A scribble of an unknown abstract form can be nearly any trace left by a drawing implement that is un-interpretable by anyone other than the scribbler. Scribbles presumably provide the basis upon which a child will build artistic skills and such a basis is necessary for later development. These drawings explore this early developmental stage and how the developmental spontaneity of a scribble stays with a person forever.
Francesca Fenzi BHA 2012,
Creative Writing and Art
Outdoor Studio Installation: Cyert Center for Early Education
The Cyert Outdoor Studio Project is a collaborative design and construction effort with the Cyert Center for Early Education to produce a functional outdoor learning space that will be used to promote student creativity and foster tactile learning.
Hannah Gilchrist BHA 2011,
Information Systems and Design
The Colour Space: What Colour is Your Lens?
This exhibit is designed to enable crowd-sourced ideation and cross-culture interaction between students and experts from a variety of academic fields. The subject of colour is a case study for the hypothesis that utilizing intrinsically interdisciplinary topics to start conversations will assist in breaking down disciplinary barriers that prohibit potential innovation.
The Magnetic Wooden Unit Block System is designed to foster collaboration and be a fun way to teach children about concepts such as magnetic poles, attraction, repulsion, and magnetic fields while adhering to the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Kindergarten Standards. A psychology experiment was conducted with four- to six-year-old children at the Carnegie Mellon Children’s School involving all the children receiving a teacher lesson on magnetism followed by a 15-minute opportunity to play with either Modular Mighty Magz or a common magnet toy, specifically Mega Magz. Though all the children learned from the lesson, those who interacted with the Modular Mighty Magz learned and collaborated more. This result means that this toy has the potential to be used in schools, museums, or homes across the country for improved learning on teaching concepts about magnets.
Variance between two sequences is often determined using some form of dynamic programming. The atomic relevance model proposes an alternative method for computing relevance of individual elements in a given “context” by assigning each with a corresponding relevance score. The technique can be applied in several situations, from music and poetry to biological sequence alignments.
Samuel Lavery BHA 2012,
Economics and Architecture
Resurrecting the Homestead Steelworks
This project uses mobile technology to recreate the Homestead Steelworks, an iconic but demolished symbol of Pittsburgh’s past. By making historic photographs and videos available to visitors at the site, this project helps explain the steel-making process while also illuminating the cultural significance of steel in 20th century America. Augmented reality is used to overlay 3D models of the lost mills and blast furnaces onto a laptop viewfinder, giving visitors a better sense of the size and scale of the industry that once dominated this region.
Daniel Lipson BHA 2012,
Creative Writing and Art
The Bridge Magazine
The Bridge Magazine is a blueprint for a campus-wide video game publication that transcends disciplines with the shared interest of video games. Its main goal is to act as a voice for students interested in making and playing games and to receive information about opportunities ranging from those on campus to those in the global gaming community.
Synesthesia refers to the interconnection of sensory stimuli, a phenomenon by which a sensory perception may respond to stimuli received by other senses. This project seeks to capture the perceptional alterations encountered throughout daily life, which consequently impact personal interactions with and understandings of the semantics of the world. The video is projected into a 6-foot pentagonal pyramid of mirrored Plexiglas that reproduces these stimuli in an illusory, recursive manner. The viewer must then navigate through the ensuing phantasm and consider his or her own perceptual understandings.
Sarah Murcek BHA 2012,
Psychology and Music Performance with a minor in Hispanic Studies
The Misunderstood Character and the Plight of Performers
This project sought to create an approach for performers tackling complex characters, particularly those who, in modern times, would have a mental health diagnosis. It also laid the groundwork for future research in pairing troubled characters with similarly troubled individuals for therapeutic effect.
Ju Young Park BCSA 2012,
Computer Science and Art
The purpose of ColorCalendar is to visualize human emotions utilizing technology and colors. It is an online interface where users can choose three different colors corresponding to their daily moods. ColorCalendar collects daily colors as a new form of
writing a diary.
Maria Raffaele BHA 2012,
Professional Writing and Music Performance
Present Perfect, Past Tense: Leadership, Language, and the Art of Thoroughly Modern Music-Making on Historical Instruments
In classical music today, the specialized fields of early music and new/contemporary music are the only true growth industries, the areas of the profession where innovation has been ongoing, and worries about extinction are the last thing on most musicians’ minds. In order to investigate this continuing success, the researcher analyzed the rhetoric of a number of leading professionals and ensembles in early music, and then programmed, designed, organized, and performed a series of innovative and exploratory early music concert performances.
The body and sky are universal social fields in which patterning through tattooing and asterisms create ideologically imbued patterns. Communal stories are projected into the stars for general recognition and onto the body as personal identification exemplify worldviews. The Japanese and Maori confer with these expressive modes in very different ways, and in doing so solidify their core beliefs.
Alternate Reality Games are large-scale cooperative games in which players solve puzzles in both real and virtual space. This project consisted of designing, creating, and producing a three week long Alternate Reality Game on the Carnegie Mellon campus, in which players worked together to halt a program which, upon completion, would bring the world to an end.
Our culture is a tug-of-war between spiritual extremes. This project is about searching for a “middle ground” in the works of Goethe, Hesse, and Rilke. The end product synthesizes text from these authors with original imagery in the form of a hand-bound book.
Anya Weitzman BHA 2012,
Anthropology and Art
PRO: Empowering Women of Different Cultures through Off-market Fashion
PRO is an investigation into which fashion elements women find most empowering, with the end goal of translating anthropological research into the design and fabrication of ensembles expressing strength, power, and true agency. From interviews and discussions with women from different walks of life in Pittsburgh, PA and Florence, Italy, there emerges distinct opinions and frustrations with fashion as an industry and as a social medium. This analysis leads to a better understanding of the inherent flaws in mass-produced fashion, high-end branding, and the flawed ways society looks at women.
In this fashion line, each piece is highly tailored to the individual while still retaining the cohesive look of a collection and a recognizable style of the designer. This is achieved through the creation of software that takes input from the user and combines it with algorithms common to computer vision, computational photography, and generative systems to create the patterns and then construct the final garment using a combination of digital fabrication, generative textile production, and more traditional techniques.
This project is a digital time motion piece that explains the theory of Linguistic Relativity, the idea that language influences thought process, in an approachable and accessible manner.
Melissa Acosta BHA 2011,
Global Systems & Management and Designwith an additional major in Human-Computer Interaction
Iccha: Multimedia Strategies for Promoting English-Language Acquisition among Bhutanese Refugees
Refugees arrive with little cultural and linguistic preparation to life in America. This project consists of a learning platform that empowers refugees to gain essential English communication skills and leverages the knowledge of volunteer tutors. The system consists of a web interface that allows tutors to rapidly create content for the iPod so refugees can download the lessons and practice them during the week.
BHA 2011, Creative Writing and Art
This project consists of a simple message temporarily installed and photographed at various locations throughout Pittsburgh and its environs. The message, glowing in neon, SOMEONE IS ALWAYS HERE, talks about both presence and absence. Depending on context, the message can be literal or metaphorical.
BHA 2011, History and Architecture
Building Isolation: Barriers to a Sustainable Built Environment
Through the loss of community, narrow agendas, and a blatant rejection of the past, the design of the built environment after World War II is neither socially, environmentally, nor economically sustainable. This composition proposes a theory for thinking about future growth—one with a premise of continuity and coherence, not isolation and rejection.
BCSA 2011, Computer Science and Art Heart-Heart
This animation is a short focusing on the beginning and end of a relationship between the two main characters. Their relationship is illustrated (literally) through the actions of their hearts rather than their own actions or words. The animation is an experiment in mixing digital and traditional media to create a unique aesthetic.
This project employs text and the abstraction of letter forms to create a universal image, attempting to elicit the words’ meanings from the image made. This piece is meant to be a small gesture to erase language barriers: the borders between those who understand and those who do not.
BHA 2011, Multimedia Production and Design
Classic Film, Modern Design: Re-Branding for a 21st-Century Audience
This project develops a branding system for an imaginary Audrey Hepburn film festival. The goal is to modernize the appeal of the classic films of Audrey Hepburn for a contemporary audience and features the program’s festival identity, program booklet, and promotional posters, as well as a series of contextual renderings of the campaign applied in a cityscape.
This super-hero-fairytale is an animation set in the 1950s, a time when gender roles were strictly enforced. A decade after the war, a sixty year old woman with the ability to work power tools, as well as having the experience of knitting countless numbers of socks for the troops overseas, takes up her knitting needles and welding torch once again when her home town is in danger of an alien invasion.
BHA 2011, Visual & Material Culture and Art
Government Funding for the Visual Arts: Toward the Pluralism from the 1970s
The arts in the United States need to receive some form of government funding on the national, regional, and local level. The arts cannot survive, especially in the current economic climate, without a base subsidy. This composition demonstrates how and why federal and local funding can benefit creativity when made available across disciplines and media.
BSA 2011, Biological Sciences and Drama
OPA! Greek Performance & Cooking Show
This project demonstrates Greek culture and educates about its cooking traditions (the passing down of ancestral recipes, family-style eating) and food sciences (the process of curing olives, a diet based on the land, etc.). Food is used as a medium because it is rich with meaning. It can represent whole cultures and their history, families and their recipes, and the natural resources of a country made edible by sophisticated processes. This endows food with the power as an effective medium to educate.
BHA 2011, Creative Writing and Art
This project addresses the nature of our recording of time and events. Our systematic organization of such data into blocks (i.e. today) renders them analogous, even identical. With this distancing from actual events and the subsequent categorical documentation thereof, we forget the specificity of the present as it becomes the past. What we are left with is the evidence of time: static, monochrome, textual fragmentation.
Katherine Chin BHA 2010, Psychology and Architecture with minors in Chinese Studies and Photography Dreams of Architecture: an exploration of understanding space and consciousness through dreams
In our dreams, our unconscious selves can express desires and fears that are normally disguised from our conscious lives. I will use the practice of lucid dreaming to explore the spaces and buildings that are depicted in my dreams to find deeper and hidden connections to my own self. These spaces and emotions will then be depicted in a series of pinhole photographs.
Shannon Deep BHA 2010, Creative Writing and Drama Deliberative Theater
Deliberative Theater is a performance-based event designed to spark debate and discussion about a chosen topic. Participants watch a short piece of theater about the topic, and afterward are led through small and large group discussions and a panel about the issue, and offer proposed solutions.
Xiaoyuan Jiang BCSA 2010, Computer Science and Art AI Brushes: Applying swarming and goal seeking behavior to digital paintbrushes A digital art program that applies a Boid-like flocking algorithm to the paintbrushes to create a unique trailing effect from the brushes’ movement.
Ana Kim BSA 2010, Biological Sciences and Art with a minor in Biomedical Engineering Yok-Mang (Desire)
The human body has been the subject of artistic inquiries since the dawn of human history. Drawing and painting the human body allows artists to understand its structure and surface and to interpret it as a vessel and actor of human experience and desire. Such interpretions result from the arst’s own bias or perspective as well as what the viewer brings. I started exploring the grotesque, uncanny and the abstract potential of the human body. I emphasized such aspects by distorting the human form and our point of view. The distortion was not invented, but actual. While I was painting, I found a common thread among my paintings,
which was: desire.
Hyun Jeong (Helen) Kim BHA 2010, Psychology and Music Performance Development of Children as Musical Beings: the benefits of Eurhythmics music education
Children learn music in a unique and different way in Eurhythmics classes. Instead of using sheet music or an instrument, they use their own bodies and senses. During this semester, I observed and recorded music learning of children in Eurhythmics classes. I noticed how Eurhythmics developed in children a sensitivity and the ability to analyze, to perceive, and to appreciate music. In my final presentation, I will show a series of video clips that demonstrate children’s learning as they begin to listen and recognize internal beats, natural weight, phrases, and musical flow.
Tina Li BHA 2010, Psychology and Music Performance
Music and Emotion
This project examines different ways in which people relate emotions to music. Through this study of the relationship of music and emotion, I hope to discover some correlations between them.
Rebecca Scully BCSA 2010, Computer Science and Art The Mighty Palm
A Flash animation which promotes the benefits of being flexible and open minded through the use of a Palm tree, an Oak tree, and birds.
Graham Swindoll BHA 2010, Philosophy and Drama with a minor in Photography On Several Obsolete Notions in the Theater
Through a string of philosophical essays, texts, videos and a short play I have attempted to explore the limitations of the contemporary theatrical scene, and propose ways of moving forward. The core of my work was an exploration of the relationship between theory, criticism and practice, and how to reconcile these often contradictory modes of analysis and creation.
Elizabeth Barsotti BHA 2009, Creative Writing and Book Arts
Husband and Wife
An interdisciplinary project which explores marriage and gender through art, craft, and writing. Project work includes letterpress books with original poetry, paintings, altered furniture, quilts, and collected objects, and was originally displayed as a two-gallery art exhibit in November 2008.
Brian Callahan BHA 2009, Anthropology and Music Performance Technology v. RIAA v. the People
This project is a look into how technology has changed the music industry, how the industry has responded to those technological changes, and the attitudes and reactions of consumers towards the music industry in response to the industry’s response.
Christopher Cornwell BHA 2009, English and Art Psychophonic Odyssey
A narrative comic which breaks from the established conventions of contemporary comics by encapsulating the history of the medium and by incorporating elements of other media and art practices through a meandering pastiche of styles and content. The comic’s narrative examines contemporary American culture and juxtaposes it with the county’s history, focusing on American mythology of the past and present, folk tales, and popular culture.
Magali Duzant BHA 2009, Visual Culture Studies and Art with a minor in Photography and Digital Imaging The Parkhurst Slides
A photographic book exploring the found and appropriated image. The photographs use cinematic techniques to re-tell the story of a New England family from the 1940s thru 1970 using family snapshots.
Victoriya Kovalchuk BHA 2009, Creative Writing and Communication Design A Fictional Autobiography
This project is a series of linked stories written over the past two years at CMU. A designed book houses these stories, which share the pages with original family photographs, abstract drawings and also poetry.
Nathaniel Krause BHA 2009, Architectural Visualization, Music Performance, and Film Media Face to Face
A short narrative film that explores the creative process through the inadvertent interdisciplinary interactions of three students.
Emily Lee BHA 2009 Creative and Professional Writing & Art with a minor in Business Administration Sequence
The goal of this unique illustration book is to explore a love of narratives both through imagery and words. Throughout the course of this semester, the project has been focused primarily on the process of experimentation involved in designing a book, rather than the finished book itself.
Matthew Siffert BHA 2009, Psychology and Music History with a minor in Jazz Performance What Does Miami Think Now?
This project investigates the sentiments of the Cuban community in Little Havana, Miami, towards the future of US-Cuba relations. Siffert spent spring break of 2009 in Miami -- shortly after US President Obama changed visitation policies to the island, and Cuban Raul Castro shifted high ranking officials in his cabinet -- interviewing members of the Cuban community on the subject. This work is a collection of case studies, recounting the perspectives of five Cuban exiles.
Jessica Thurston BHA 2009, Urban Design and Professional Writing with a minor in Hispanic Studies The Book of Robot City: Brownfield Redevelopment in Hazelwood
A collection of papers and proposal submissions that detail the development of the Hazelwood, Pennsylvania-based brownfield site. The 178-acre site is being redeveloped using robotic technology to create educational, commercial, and social space that will benefit the economy and the community of the Pittsburgh region.