Lemonade, Paprika, and Virtual Reality: An Interview with Priscilla Wong

I spoke with DreamWorks Animation visual development artist Priscilla Wong about the role of technology in her work, her predictions for virtual reality’s role in her field, independent distribution, and being a woman a creative field.

Interview by Alex Hanson

All art courtesy of Priscilla Wong

Priscilla Wong is a visual development artist for DreamWorks Animation. She is a master of transcending mediums, from digital art to painting to creating fantasy creatures made of cloth and other textured materials. I spoke with her about the role of technology in her work, her predictions for virtual reality’s role in her field, independent distribution, and being a woman a creative field. All the art featured is courtesy of Priscilla, and you can find more of her work on her blog, her Tumblr, and her Instagram. You’ll also find her visual influence on the Trolls movie, set to release this November.

How would you describe your artistic style?

It’s like lemonade with a dash of paprika. I like using real materials, like fabric, and unconventional materials. I think part of that comes from my love for fashion. I love Project Runway. I like different disciplines within art and design: I love graphic design, I’m in animation, I love fashion and industrial design. I try to bring as much of those influences together as possible because I think it makes a unique look and makes it universally appealing. It has a sophisticated mix to it, I feel. What I mean by lemonade with a dash of paprika is that I like things to be fresh but also a little dramatic, a little spicy. I got that from loving Diana Vreeland. She’s a fashion icon and she liked to challenge norms. She pushed aesthetics along from the 20s to the 60s. So much happened during that time and I think a lot of that has to do with her.

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For the Q Pop Shop Gallery

Continue reading “Lemonade, Paprika, and Virtual Reality: An Interview with Priscilla Wong”

Interview With Mandy Sweeney: NASA Alum and Certified Sci-Fi Geek

“The people that can work at the intersection between the sciences and the humanities will own the future.”

By Julia Arciga

Photo courtesy of Mandy Sweeney

Mandy Sweeney is the Vice President of Museum Operations at the up-and-coming Museum of Science Fiction, a NASA alum, and is currently finishing up her Harvard Master’s degree in Finance. To add to her already impressive resume, Mandy also boasts an impressive warchest of sci-fi fan info, and has an enormous passion for STEM education. Though a Skype interview, I got the pleasure of geeking out with her— Star-Trek-and-Doctor-Who style.

What was the inspiration to start the Museum of Science Fiction?

The founder of the Museum, Greg Viggiano, was inspired by the Tate Modern. It occured to him that there really was no home like that for science fiction. The genre is so broad – there’s radio, music, art, literature, film, TV, comics, cosplay, fandom – and he wondered why this hasn’t been all brought together yet. At the time I was working at NASA, he and I were talking about that and I, too, was really intrigued with this idea. Between the two of us, we realized that sci-fi is a really powerful way to engage everyone about science and makes it more accessible. So what we came to believe is that we can use sci-fi as a way to inspire and motivate others to develop positive thoughts about our future by innovating and by creating more technology. Continue reading “Interview With Mandy Sweeney: NASA Alum and Certified Sci-Fi Geek”

The Quest for Science’s Holy Grail (Through Falsification)

Just because there are grails or theories that are false does not mean that the one true Holy Grail or the one true scientific theory is impossible to find.

By Melody Xu

Illustration by Charlotte Southall

A common theme through science (and any field, honestly), is to set it apart from other fields. Perhaps more so in science, there is a desire to separate the “imposters,” the so-called pseudosciences, from being included underneath the scientific umbrella. This is an issue that has plagued philosophers of science for years, sparking debate and existential crises since the beginning of time. Surely, there is a common theme along the pseudosciences that links them together and sets them apart from the actual sciences. But what is this difference? How is pseudoscience different from science?

One of the most well-known theories for this demarcation problem comes from Karl Popper. Hailed as one of the best philosophers of science of the twentieth century, the Austrian-Brit rejected the traditional model of the scientific method which had prevailed since the time of Francis Bacon, choosing instead to turn to the concept of empirical falsification. The concept of falsification serves as a filter for hypotheses; the core of the concept states that a hypothesis is scientific if and only if there is a potential to refute it through observation. The underlying theme is that science is and should involve risk-taking. Hypotheses and theories, such as astrology or Marxism, that are all-encompassing and can explain any new data that is found, are in a sense unworthy of the title of science. Continue reading “The Quest for Science’s Holy Grail (Through Falsification)”

WiSE Words: Imposter Syndrome

I looked around at the women around me. They looked quiet, studious, and were definitely better students than me.

By Lynn Wang

Art by Annika Hanson

There are some moments in life that deserve to be treasured: true love, getting curved up to a passing grade on the organic chemistry exam, and walking into a room full of strangers to discover that you’re all sisters in the same struggle.

I applied for the WiSE (Women in Science and Engineering) undergraduate fellowship on a whim, at the end of my final exams last winter. I was sure nothing would come of it; I’ve become pretty desensitized to rejection letters over the years. So when I was accepted, I was delighted— and a little intimidated. I wasn’t sure what to expect. How could I, a lowly biochemistry sophomore, have possibly been competent or formidable enough to gain entry into such a selective program? As I stepped into the elevator for our first luncheon a week ago, I remember thinking that I would be tossed out immediately. A pre-med struggling to keep a 3.0 GPA, with no active research projects, surely did not deserve to be given such a special honor, much less a research grant.

I resolutely give credit to the Goddess of Irony that I walked into a first meeting where the topic of choice was imposter syndrome. Continue reading “WiSE Words: Imposter Syndrome”

Extended Consciousness in the World of Tomorrow

Are we still human when our minds are cloned so many times over, fragmented into downloaded files, and uploaded consciousness?

Words and Illustration by Alex Hanson

When we die, what happens to our memories? Where do our personalities and experiences go? Don Hertzfeldt (you might recognize his out-of-this-world Simpsons couch gag or his short “It’s Such a Beautiful Day”) explores one futuristic, somewhat dystopian possibility in his short film “World of Tomorrow” (which is on Netflix and I HIGHLY recommend watching). “World of Tomorrow,” which is nominated for an Oscar and has already received awards from Sundance and South by Southwest, is a two dimensional animated short about Emily Prime, a young girl, and her adult third generation clone (let’s call her Emily Three). Emily Three brings Emily Prime to the future to share her personal experiences in a dystopian world where no new humans are born. Instead, every living person is a clone of someone who lived many years ago, injected with the memories of their prime and all the clones in line before them. Emily Three struggles with her low emotional capacity in a world where consciousness and body no longer develop together. Instead, consciousness is transferred between clones, or can be downloaded from a person once they die. For some elderly, their consciousness is transferred into a bodiless box, where they exist alone in darkness for an undetermined number of years. Continue reading “Extended Consciousness in the World of Tomorrow”

Using Technology to Show the Fashion in Science

For me, mechanical engineering has been a path to combine technology, science, engineering, and fashion.

By Erin Winick, Founder, Sci Chic and Mechanical Engineering Student

Illustration by Alex Hanson, using images courtesy of Sci Chic 

Fashion and science. Two things people rarely imagine going together. As an engineering student, people often fail to understand all of the opportunities available through my degree. Many think I am only going to build bridges or work on math calculations for the rest of my life. Although these are career options, the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields provide gateways to a lot more avenues than one might think. For me, mechanical engineering has been a path to combine technology, science, engineering, and fashion.

Since I was a kid I have always loved sewing. I made my Halloween costumes, pillows, and pajamas with the steady guidance of my mom. Sewing is an awesome opportunity to work with your hands and use 2D patterns to make something 3D — something that is essentially an engineering challenge. I have expanded this love of hands-on making into a love for fashion and mechanical engineering. I am a loyal project runway fan and have branched into making my own clothes as well. One day I thought, “Why not combine the two?” Continue reading “Using Technology to Show the Fashion in Science”