Static images do not have a place in Professor Alex Lee’s art. Instead, when you experience Lee’s multidimensional landscapes, you become a key component of the piece. Lee circumvents traditional art techniques like painting or sculpture and creates lush landscapes using a digital medium.
“Early on, I was interested in how art and science concepts mesh together,” says Lee, an associate professor of Digital Arts & Sciences. “I wanted to see if I could articulate the digital sublime in a way that blended these two areas.”
Lee, an early adopter of second-wave virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), uses this experimental technology to explore controversial and introspective ideas within the virtual space. He shares his knowledge and methods in a variety of courses that, he hopes, challenge students to think outside the box
Alex Lee, Associate Professor, Communication & Media
Students who take Lee’s 3-D Digital Design or 3-D Imagery & Animation courses learn the basics of creating 3-D images through a combination of coding, modeling and keyframe animation. Students are able to use their own interests to create projects that range from an animated short to an experimental video game to a virtual reality experience.
“I walk them through the basic methods,” says Lee. “But I step back from telling them exactly what to do. This way, they can apply classroom ideas however they see fit.”
This is a way to challenge students to constantly push boundaries and expand beyond what has already been done or established within the VR/AR industry, which is something that Lee has been actively pursuing for four years.
Lee has exhibited his art in galleries both nationally and internationally. Two of his most recent projects were on display at Rhode Island College: “Lucid Dreaming” and “Project H.E.A.R.T.” in 2014 and 2017, respectively.
“//Lonely Avatar” involves two projects, which investigate the use, meaning and expressive potential of avatars in the contemporary digital landscape. “Lucid Dreaming” ruminates on the emptiness of the virtual avatar, while “Project H.E.A.R.T.” (another art installation made in collaboration with Canadian artist Erin Gee) involves viewers filling an empty avatar with their own emotions through a specially designed biosensor. Both projects follow a trajectory of thought in regard to the metaphorical potential of avatars in the virtual space and were commissioned by Trinity Square Video (Toronto, ON) in 2014 and 2017 respectively.