For its fourth online installment of the 2021 Spring Puppet Forum Series, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will host “Puppetry, Game Design, and Digital Performance” with Eddie Kim of EK Theater and UConn Digital and Media Design faculty Samantha Olschan and Kenneth Thompson, on Thursday, April 22 at 7 p.m. ET. This forum will take place on Facebook Live (facebook.com/BallardInstitute/) and will be available afterwards on Facebook and the Ballard Institute YouTube Channel (youtube.com/channel/UC3VSthEDnYS6ZjOwzT1DnTg).
Innovations in digital culture, including motion capture technology and the use of avatars in video games have sometimes been labeled “digital puppetry”; but what exactly are the overlaps and differences between puppetry’s analog objects in motion and their cyber cousins in the digital world? This exciting puppet forum will examine these important connections by considering Eddie Kim’s retellings of classical stories through live acts of video game puppetry; Samantha Olschan’s storytelling projects combining animation, design, and experiential narrative; and video game designer Kenneth Thompson’s work pushing the boundaries of gameplay experience. This forum is co-sponsored by UConn’s Digital Media and Design Department.
Eddie Kim is a multimedia artist and the artistic director of EK Theater (ektheater.com), a video game puppetry troupe that he founded in 2007. The company’s mission is to retell classical stories through live acts of video game puppetry. His plays have been performed at venues such as the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA; the NRG Center in Houston, TX; and the Brick Theater in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The New York Times has called his work “an impressive feat of engineering, coordination and storytelling.”
Samantha Olschan is a transmedia artist with a M.F.A. in Film, Video, and New Media: Animation from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a B.F.A in Fine Arts: Electronic & Time-Based Media from Carnegie Mellon University. Having worked across broadcast design, animation, compositing and time-based visualization for television, films, documentaries and media agencies, she continues to research the future of storytelling through animation, design and experiential narrative.
Kenneth Thompson worked in the game industry for eight years as a Game Designer and Lead Designer before coming to the University of Connecticut. His responsibilities included directing game projects from start to finish, programming unique scenarios using game development tools, and working with publishers such as SEGA, Electronic Arts, and Activision. He has worked with Blockbuster franchises such as Iron Man, Spider-Man, Captain America, Madagascar, Shrek, and over a dozen others. His work in the video game industry has received Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Award for best video game, Indie Game of the Year, and Innovation Awards from industry publications. He works with students on creating engaging gameplay experiences and pushing the boundaries of play.
For more information and to learn about other online programming, email firstname.lastname@example.org.