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Digital culture graduate discovers how to make ‘wild ideas’ come to life

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2019 commencement.

Andrew Robinson.

When graduate student Andrew Robinson first started classes in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering, he didn’t know what responsive media was – or that it even existed. 

“Learning all about it as a new art form that is cross-disciplinary with other art forms, as well as scientific research, was a huge perspective change because it opened my eyes up to a way in which I could fulfill all the wild ideas I think,” he said.

Robinson explored this new art as an undergraduate student; he received his bachelor’s degree in digital culture with a concentration in music. He decided to continue to hone his skills in responsive media, music and interactive animations, and he graduates this December with a master’s degree in digital culture. 

After graduation, Robinson hopes to use his newfound passion to create stage designs for live music and responsive concert animations. He also plans on continuing to create immersive responsive media projects on his own and in partnership with Tempe’s Sunroom, where he is actively working as the stage projectionist for local bands.

Explore his artwork on Instagram

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in? 

Answer: There was a moment about a year and a half into the program when I was starting to get the hang of how computer programming in Max MSP worked. I had an idea to make a motion controlled Instagram-esque camera filter. It wasn’t for a homework assignment or anything, it was just a random idea that came to me based on different bits of information I had learned from different classes. I built it though, and it actually worked, and the act of realizing my idea felt amazing! It was incredible to have this feeling of being able to create an idea I had into reality. After that, I tried to learn as much as I could about programming in Max MSP both inside and out of the classroom.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: It was in Intro to Interactive Environments with Professor Tinapple that I had learned the basic interactive techniques to make the application I talked about in the first question.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Find the thing you’re really passionate about, the one thing that makes school not feel like school or work not feel like work, and pursue that with your full force.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: The Digital Culture Lounge is the best place on campus because it’s extremely peaceful to sit in there with all the awesome ambient lighting to just do work or chill before class.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

Climate change and the lack of renewable energy resources in America.