"Freeze Frame" is the exhibition of interdisciplinary projects developed by our students based on their research in Antarctica. The show acts as a marker for City University’s focus on education that extends beyond the classroom and creates exciting contexts for moments of discovery. The Extreme Environments programme uses field research as a way to engage students into exploring and advancing knowledge about our environment and then uses emerging media technologies to creatively share their discoveries with new audiences.
I had the privilege of visiting Antarctica in 2009 as part of the delegation tour of the Hong Kong Professionals and Senior Executives Association providing me with a personal appreciation for the work here. I saw a continent of stunning beauty but these young researchers have gone deeper, measuring the invisible and sensing the untouchable. Our undergraduate students have collected meaningful datasets that connect with larger international scientific knowledge. Working with leading scientists aboard a respected research vessel, they developed a more complex understanding of one of the world’s most hidden and endangered sites. The layer of student research helps even those who have visited the continent to see it from a fresh perspective.
In its English translation, "Freeze Frame" means to stop a movie at an exact moment to study it more closely in detail. Here too, the students have paused the global changes occurring in Antarctica to observe and learn from the details. Using the tools of media and design, they have added their personal discovery into their findings, and at the core of every project in this exhibition is nature carefully measured and thoughtfully presented. Their creative interpretation of what they have learned demonstrates the power of art to inform and question.
I have met these fine students on several occasions now. One of their artworks ran a computer program through the long-distance communications during the expedition and keywords of wonder, respect and friendship surfaced in their messages to us back home. The first journey we see at this exhibition is of penguins and icebergs, but as we encounter these artworks we begin to see journeys of personal and professional growth. Few university courses can also offer skills in teamwork, physical endurance, creativity, technical proficiency and environmental responsibility all while sharing with thousands of social network followers. We have taken this incredible journey with these students by connecting with them through both mission and technology.
The exhibition completes a year-long commitment that involved departments across the University and I am proud of our agility and flexibility that makes experiences like this possible for our students. I commend the many people who took on additional responsibilities because they believe in helping students learn more about the world and making us all better global citizens.
Please enjoy the results of one of the most ground-breaking programmes in education.
Mr Herman Hu Shao-ming, BBS, JP
Chairman of the Council
The expedition to the Antarctic last winter embodies the essence of the fresh strategic direction that City University of Hong Kong (CityU) has pursued in recent years.
Since taking over as President, I have worked hard to encourage faculty and students to seek rich opportunities for unleashing a spirit of discovery and innovation. Our pioneering Discovery-enriched Curriculum is specifically designed to ensure that every student at CityU experiences the process of creating new knowledge, and communicating that knowledge to society. We want our graduates to look back on their university learning experience and relish the originality of the projects they have worked on.
I have also urged the University to look beyond the confines of traditional academic disciplines and to work in interdisciplinary fields, where the arts and sciences merge, where creative media and technology form symbiotic alliances. In my view, some of the most interesting questions in research today defy traditional discipline classifications, and demand expertise from across the spectrum of academic fields.
By exploring these new rich areas of enquiry, we witness the importance of breaking down barriers that in the past have separated teaching from research in universities. In today’s rapidly changing knowledge society, our students need to learn from excellent teachers who conduct world-class research, and from talented researchers who are highly effective teachers.
These educational drivers aligned strongly with the Antarctica expedition objectives. Armed with cutting-edge technology on a mission to collect scientific data from one of the harshest environments in the world, our faculty and students have created an array of fascinating creative media installations with strong environmental messages. The students have been guided by first-class faculty members from the School of Creative Media who have encouraged the students to devise their own projects, advising and encouraging them as they progress through their journeys of discovery.
Since the Antarctica expedition followed on from the equally spirited expedition to the Mojave Desert in the US in 2012, a trip that also sought to create artworks using environmental data, I am confident that CityU will devise equally exciting learning and research opportunities for our students.
President Professor Way Kuo
I am pleased to write this introduction to the Extreme Environments: Antarctica exhibition on behalf of City University of Hong Kong (CityU). In 2012, CityU launched its unique, groundbreaking Discovery-enriched Curriculum (DEC) as a new paradigm for higher education. The DEC goal is for each student to have the chance to make an original discovery. DEC enables students not only to master existing knowledge, but to learn what it means to create new knowledge by being partners in the process of discovering/innovating/creating. At CityU we believe our students will then better understand what it means to explore the unknown and take measured risks under the guidance of our dedicated and talented staff. Through the DEC, CityU students have the opportunity to create new knowledge and then communicate, curate, and cultivate that knowledge to benefit society. We are confident that this preparation will serve our students well throughout their professional careers as they navigate in a dynamic world that is continuously evolving through the forces of technology and globalization.
The Extreme Environments: Antarctica project is emblematic of what the DEC is designed to accomplish in tertiary education. The 23 CityU students who journeyed to Antarctica from December 2013 to January 2014 first formed teams by identifying student partners from other disciplines and devising their own interdisciplinary projects in response to a campus-wide call for proposals in September 2013. Their team projects were selected from approximately 100 submitted proposals through a rigorous review process involving an interdisciplinary panel of experts. Each project was evaluated for its creativity, feasibility, and potential to make issues associated with the fragile environment of Antarctica accessible to citizens through creative uses of media and technology.
Ably led by Mr. Scott Hessels and supported by CityU's School of Creative Media under the leadership of Dean Jeffrey Shaw, our 23 intrepid students spent three challenging weeks collecting data for their projects and experiencing life in one of the most remote and harsh environments on our planet. They conducted their visit in a manner that fully conformed to the zero-carbon-footprint guidelines for such expeditions.
We are delighted to provide this inspiring public venue so that our students share the fruits of their efforts. This exhibition animates our students’ collected data through their imaginative uses of media and technology. Beyond that, the exhibition reflects the spirit of the DEC, which is to encourage our students to think boldly and creatively and to develop their leadership skills.
On behalf of CityU, I would also like to express our gratitude to the organizations that provided donations and in-kind contributions to enable our students to undertake this extraordinary expedition. Our students also helped make this trip a reality by individual fundraising efforts through the fringebacker.com website.
We wish our students continued success in their journeys of discovery and thank you for your interest in and support of their efforts.
Arthur B. Ellis
Provost, City University of Hong Kong
Art practice in the 21st century is no longer a purely self-focused enterprise. The exigencies of the contemporary social and environmental contexts create new urgencies that call upon the artist’s inventiveness and insights to contribute to a better understanding, and to possibly even provide solutions.
Therefore it is the responsibility of arts schools today to cultivate in students in their training the desire and capability to address these contexts. This implies the ability to work in trans-disciplinary groups, and develop the communication skills that enable artists to engage and integrate the language of their practice with those in other fields. Only in this way can they be equipped to creatively address the full complexity of our current condition.
CityU and the School of Creative Media have made this one of its priority areas of education. Initiated and led by Scott Hessels, we have developed the Extreme Environments program as a breakthrough method to introduce students to the excitement and challenges of inter-disciplinary undertakings. This program provides students with the opportunity to have profound real-world engagements with increasingly critical environmental issues. The Antarctica expedition has been paradigmatic in this respect, bringing artists and scientists together in an endangered environment where the fullest exercise of our human understanding, sensitivity and creativity is called for to avert an impending crisis. An art practice that elucidates and addresses these challenges is an art that contributes to the world and all humanity. This is the lofty ambition of our students’ exhibition Freeze Frame, and I am elevated by their zeal.
Professor Jeffrey Shaw
Dean, The School of Creative Media