The intersection of art and technology

Mungo award winner helps students turn passion into profession

If Evan Meaney pedaled by, you’d likely mistake him for a University of South Carolina student. Unless you happened to catch sight of the thin strands of lights threaded through his bicycle wheels. They’re powered by a series of microcontrollers — a bike modification he created and coded himself.

Meaney, a media arts associate professor, is a self-described game-player who holds a bachelor’s in cinema and photography and an M.F.A. in film and video production. He’s been teaching in the School of Art and Visual Design since 2013.

His journey from film to digital began in Queens, New York. Specifically, it was the day he and his mother visited the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, which was featuring one of the first-ever exhibitions of video games as art. “I played a Star Wars arcade machine game there,” he recalls. “If you want to know the moment I became me, that was it.”

After studying film at Ithaca College, and veering into web and computational projects while gaming nonstop, Meaney became so interested in video games he wanted to know how to build them. So he learned. Those early experiments in design are the basis of his highly rated instruction in subjects such as aesthetics and production workflows of new media, gaming, virtual reality and creative internet trends.

While he loves teaching, the Easter egg is being able to provide the support and leadership that helps a student turn a powerful, pre-existing passion into a marketable future. It’s a commitment his students feel every day in class.

Meaney always begins his video game building class with a 10-minute “geek-out” session for more than the selfish reason of discovering new gaming trends. “A lot of students are playing games that I haven’t played or I’ve never even heard of. Or they’re modding games or something new was announced five minutes before class,” he says. “That time is a reminder that what they’re working on in their personal lives is what they should be working on in their professional lives.”

Personally, Meaney reads and absorbs as much as he can and has a habit of doing one tutorial each day on something he doesn’t know. But, he adds, in an iterative field like media arts, the greatest educational device isn’t always a tutorial, lecture, project or museum.

“The mistakes we discover in the process are so important to the process. If I could run a class called Mistakes 405, I would,” he says.

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