A Discovered Lake Michigan Story Through Fake Meteorites: Focusing on the Lake Shore
Meteorites play an important part in understanding our planet’s formation and contain a wealth of information, but the majority of objects that people pick up thinking that they are from space are, in fact, decidedly terrestrial and often man-made. This collaboration will analyze the morphology and composition of different kinds of metal debris and human residues discovered in Lake Michigan to trace back their histories, so that people can see for themselves that this anthropogenic refuse is not meteoritic and understand what we are doing on Earth. Jennika Greer (PhD candidate, Geophysical Sciences, UChicago) and Meejung Soh (MFA candidate, Sculpture, SAIC) present data from these objects in a way that increases their value as objects of study, though it is material that has been discarded, weaving in one aspect of the history of Lake Michigan. This project challenges participants to predict the future as people continue to participate in the change of the landscape. 
Faculty Advisors: Philipp R. Heck (Robert A. Pritzker Associate Curator for Meteoritics and Polar Studies, Field Museum; Associate Professor, Geophysical Sciences, UChicago) and Frances Whitehead (Professor, Sculpture, SAIC).

Gut Feelings: A Mixed Reality Intimate Encounter
Gut Feelings (gutfeelings.art) is an embodied virtual reality (VR) experience that brings the audience into an intimate microworld of a human gut. The users can decide between geographical, lifestyle, health, or social inputs to explore the real changes that happen upon these inputs in the gut microbiome in the virtual space. The users are encouraged to explore all four choices and physically immerse into how they interconnect in the real space. We will create four pods (suspended chairs or tunnels) that represent each one of the factors mentioned earlier, where users can enter into unique spaces that provide a feeling of coziness and intimacy. Once in a pod, the user can wear VR headset and travel through the intestines to meet and communicate with microbes and cells of different types in different forms. The goal is to use the drive of the users’ curiosity for exploring someone else’s intimate space (gut) in order to experience a different perspective on how much the external forces impact their own gut microbiome. This project combines Marta Borowska’s (PhD student, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, UChicago) interest in human biology and Minyoung Kang’s (MFA candidate, Interior Design, SAIC) expertise in VR and mixed realities. This project is done in collaboration with artist Insun Kang, who has experience in VR and user interaction.
Faculty advisors: Erin Adams (Joseph Regenstein Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, UChicago); Brenda Lopez Silva (Lecturer, Art and Technology Studies, SAIC).
Funded by the Graduate Division, School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC).

Numerical Alternatives
The symbols in our current Arabic numerical system, while well-suited for arithmetic, are not directly connected to the quantities they represent. Numerical Alternatives starts from the idea that the notational system we are so accustomed to using is one of many possible variations. The project draws from the fields of Number Theory, Music, and Communication Design to design numbers that have visual and auditory relationships with one another, making it easy to perceive the concepts they represent. Divyamaan Sahoo (MFA candidate, Sound, SAIC)Olly Moore (MFA candidate, Visual Communications, SAIC), and Mathilde Gerbelli-Gauthier (PhD student, Mathematics, UChicago) will experiment with different ways of expressing numbers, creating “instruments” that can also perform calculations, expanding the notion of “notation” into representational forms including but not limited to writing, sound, and touch. They also plan to dive deeper into theory, publishing a book that revives alternative ways of conceptualizing numbers through writing, notation, speech, gesture, sound, and movement. The final presentation will involve a demonstration of the instruments in play, an explanation of how they work (and how they are able to communicate number), and a publication of the book, in addition to sharing other artifacts of their work-in-process.
Faculty advisors: Stephen Farrell (Associate Professor, Visual Communications, SAIC), Mark Booth (Associate Professor, Writing Program, SAIC), Matt Emerton (Professor, Department of Mathematics, UChicago).                           
Funded by the Graduate Division, School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC).      

Subconscious Influences on an Audience via Body Odors
This project challenges traditional distinctions between self and other, performer and audience via synesthetic sensory engagement. As scholars who focus on human-computer interaction and video game studies, we are deeply interested in how humans (and non-humans) relate to computational technologies. At the broadest level, our project takes the non-conscious affective secretions from a performer in one context and presents them to another performer/participant in the context of a virtual reality game. This project is an investigation of olfaction’s potential to unconsciously affect our interactions with technology. Arianna Gass (PhD student, English & Theater and Performance Studies, Chicago) and Jas Brooks (PhD student, Computer Science, UChicago) will explore the artificial synthesis of body odors, the composition of performances, and the orchestration of body odor and virtual reality games.
Faculty advisors: Patrick Jagoda (Professor, English, UChicago) and Pedro Lopes (Assistant Professor, Computer Science, UChicago).

Transplanted: Unpacking the Role of Plants and Herbal Practice in the Immigrant’s Narrative
When individuals migrate across geographic borders, they carry with them an immense collection of memories, many of these rooted in plant-based knowledge and ritual: recollections of their use in the kitchen, in making medicine, in childhood play, as decorative elements in the home, or as commodities for sale. Memories of plants often function as windows into the elaborate histories and shared experiences of moving across national lines and through cultural worlds. Through ethnographic interviewing, Tracy Brannstrom (PhD student, Comparative Human Development, UChicago) and Jenny Rafalson (MFA candidate, photography, SAIC) collect plant-based stories, recipes, remedies, and other recollections from Chicago-based individuals and families who have immigrated to the US. The core of their methodology is photographic portraiture, privileging both the human storyteller and the plants that act as focal points in the construction of migrants’ memories. In the spirit of public artwork, these portraits and stories will be archived in a book, its copies distributed across community-oriented spaces of the city.
Faculty advisors: Eugene Raikhel (Associate Professor, Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies, UChicago); Jan Tichy (Associate Professor, Photography, SAIC).