From MALVirtualTour We will build an interactive virtual tour of CU-Boulder's Media Archaeology Lab (MAL), making its playful atmosphere available for anyone.
Dr. Michael Gamer, a book history scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, recently delivered a lecture on the CU-Boulder campus. Following his lecture, Dr. Gamer specifically requested a tour of CU-Boulder's Media Archaeology Lab (MAL) -- a site of knowledge production deeply linked to his own academic field. Finally getting to experience the "magic" of the laboratory in person by playing with old computers, early word processors, and typewriters -- even an Edison phonograph from the 1920s! -- his overt fascination quickly turned to disappointment when he realized that his students, an incredible 1,700 miles across the country, would likely never see the lab we've created. In fact, he lamented, the current website doesn't capture the spirit of the laboratory -- its static images convey facts, but not feeling.
We as CU-Boulder Department of English students took this feedback to heart, and now we're doing something about it!
What if we could improve the ways in which the Media Archeology Lab is captured online? We are Erin Cousins and Jillian Gilmer, Master's candidates at CU-Boulder, and we want to build a virtual tour of CU-Boulder's Media Archaeology Lab. Utilizing professional software, we believe we can capture the sounds, physical feeling, and most importantly, the interactivity of the laboratory machines -- from the Vectrex game station to the Apple IIe!
Below is an example of what the software will allow us to create, demonstrated as a residential tour. Our tour will be much different, but we can't wait to utilize all of the functionalities Tourweaver 7 will provide for our project!
In order for us to provide full access to the great tools and resources housed in CU-Boulder's Media Archaeology Lab (MAL), we are raising funds to purchase the software necessary to create an interactive virtual tour. It's one thing to simply create a walk-through of the space, but we envision this tour to not only allow everyone to play with - and study - the equipment remotely, but will guarantee access to the MAL resources for those that cannot visit in-person.
A visitor plays with a Vectrex gaming system from 1983
You may be asking: "What is the MAL?" There's more information and fun things to watch below. We hope you will support us so that we can share the magic of the MAL!
Founded in 2009 and generously supported by the Department of English at the University of Colorado at Boulder, the motto of the Media Archaeology Lab (MAL) is that “the past must be lived so that the present can be seen.” Nearly all digital media labs are conceived of as a place for experimental research using the most up-to-date, cutting-edge tools available. By contrast, the MAL – which is the largest of its kind in North America – is a place for cross-disciplinary experimental research and teaching using obsolete tools, hardware, software and platforms, from the past. The MAL is propelled equally by the need to both preserve and maintain access to historically important media of all kinds – from magic lanterns, projectors, typewriters to personal computers from the 1970s through the 1990s – as well as early works of digital literature/art which were created on the outdated hardware/software housed in the lab.
The MAL's website has yet to fully encompass the playfulness of the laboratory space. Every machine is functional, allowing students to tinker with tech ranging from computer interfaces to phonographs--but in contrast, the website is limited to 2-D information and images. Master's students Erin Cousins and Jillian Gilmer, inspired by the construction of knowledge via unguided play, hope to create a virtual reality tour of this space that imitates the freedom and creative openness of the Media Archaeology Lab itself. Utilizing fisheye panoramas, binaural microphones, and professional photo-stitching software, we will a playful, interactive lab space online. Take a listen to this preview of the laboratory's soundscape, which we hope to capture in our tour:
Master's students Jillian Gilmer (English) and Erin Cousins (Comparative Lit) began this project in a graduate Digital Humanities course taught by Dr. Lori Emerson. Inspired by the ideological divide between physiological and virtual spaces, we began building the virtual tour to promote accessibility within the academe, traverse spatial boundaries, and share the laboratory's magic with the world. We're particularly interested in the process of making and "doing" within university infrastructure.
Please donate and share our campaign so we can make this happen. All gifts are tax-deductible! We can't wait to show you the outcome of our project!
*Any excess funds raise will be used to provide general program support for the Media Archaeology Lab (MAL) at the University of Colorado Boulder at the discretion of the director, Dr. Lori Emerson.
**To donate via mailed check, please list Appeal Code: F0038 on checks made payable to the University of Colorado Foundation OR the CU Foundation. Mail checks to: University of Colorado Foundation, PO Box 17126, Denver, CO 80217