Thursday, June 4, 2020
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Phuc Pham | New University
Phuc Pham | New University

“Snooping around, are ya? Come back this way towards the dark and creepy staircase on your left. This ought to set a good tone for my encounter.”

When such lines are overheard from one of the voice-over rooms in the Arts, Culture & Technology building, one may assume that several students are developing a self conscious, horror B-movie. Who could have guessed that you may hear those very lines when taking a tour of the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at the end of this quarter?

Twenty-nine undergraduate students in the minor in digital arts are currently developing PINTOUR, a public art project on the Claire Trevor School of the Arts campus that consists of a series of interactive audio walks and tall map-like pin structures meant to explore the art, drama, dance and music departments.

The students began developing PINTOUR in the Arts’ 50, 60 and 70 course series in the Digital Arts taught by continuing lecturer Bryan Jackson. They have been at work on the project as early as January.

“We spent a lot of time looking at interventions and concepts for street art,” Robert Padilla, a fourth-year studio art major and an organizer for PINTOUR, said. “Interventions are [when] a group of people, or just local artists, find a certain problem or something that the community around them is lacking, and they go and do this project […] They fulfill this project, they execute it and it solves this problem.

“So we had to think as a class, what could we do as an intervention, and we wanted to solve the idea that the School of the Arts is often overlooked,” he said.

“Especially since [the school] is not even connected on Ring Road,” Alexa Schlackman, a fourth-year studio art and business administration double major and another member of the group, added.

“We’re trying to bring awareness to the arts school not only to UCI and prospective students, but also to the community because we do have galleries on campus and we have shows, and it’d be nice if we had a little more community support, so we’re using this as an opportunity to tour just the arts and so that people really know what’s going on, especially since there [are] four majors within the art school,” she continued.

PINTOUR addresses this very objective. Five map pins, reminiscent of those on Google Maps, are placed around the School of the Arts, with each pin meant to guide people to other ones as part of a tour. Every pin has a QR code, which participants scan using their mobile phones or tablets. Scanning the codes leads to a web interface, where they can choose one of four audio walks, which direct the participants throughout the school’s campus. The tours engage with and inform individuals about the school’s history, programs and the people involved.

The four types of audio walks that participants can choose from aren’t like the typical tours found in museums, schools and the like.

“We wanted to make [the tours] contemporary and fun,” Padilla said. “The Mystery Tour is about a narrator who’s investigating a bunch of thefts in the School of the Arts, and each of the five routes [from pin to pin] includes a character, a student character from the department talking about their encounter with the thief, so it’s filled with lots of mysterious red herrings and mismatched clues.

“The Time Leap Tour, it’s basically a look into the past, and you’re going back to look at different, important events in the history of UCI and important events, special occasions, in the School of the Arts, and that one’s obviously a little more informational and traditional,” he said.

“There’s the Bitter Tour […] and so what happens is that there’s a coupling, it’s not like an actual couple, but there will be like a bio major and a studio art major. The bio major’s kind of bitter, he’s like, ‘What are these drama majors laying inside [Cyber A Cafe] doing, they’re touching me, this is gross.’ The art student’s like, ‘Oh, this is so much fun, I love it here,’ and she’s very perky,” Schlackman said.

“There’s the Art Tour, and it’s like one of the group tours […] but it’s just you and then there’s a whole bunch of people in the recordings, and it’s supposed to be funny,” she said. “They’re asking silly questions, and it’s things that parents would usually ask during a tour, so it kind of makes fun of that.”

The development process of PINTOUR definitely underlines its collaborative nature. For voice work for the audio tours, the team held auditions for different majors, particularly students from the four departments within the School of the Arts.

Of course, a grand project like this one doesn’t come cheap. The team recently began a Kickstarter campaign to raise a goal of $4,500 by Saturday, May 18 to fund PINTOUR. The pins, which the students will construct, need to be built with steel pipe and eco-friendly Styrofoam, coated with water-resistant paint and will require the bulk of the funds.

The rest of the money will go toward payment of surveyors and facilities management at UCI for the placement of the pins, as well as gifts for the Kickstarter backers.

As of this past Saturday evening, the campaign has 69 backers, who have pledged $2,887, so $1,613 more is needed. Knowing their deadline is coming soon, the students are focusing their efforts on marketing PINTOUR in hopes of reaching their Kickstarter goal.

Considering that this is the first time Jackson’s students have done a public art project, making PINTOUR a reality will not only reward the students for their time and effort put into it, but also — in a way — affirm the presence of the Claire Trevor School of the Arts.