Immersive Media Lab Biography

The Immersive Media Lab focuses on the technologies and mediums of the future. The lab was founded in 2017 by Lecturer Christopher Willey at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts. The primary research focus is to find ways to process the data that surrounds us in order to provide greater awareness within our society. Its mission within this research driven lab is to create learning experiences for 21st century creatives; as well as developing best practices within this emerging genre. Projects are collaborative and interdisciplinary at their core and use creativity and the humanities to convey STEM concepts.

CHRISTOPHER WILLEY is an interdisciplinary creative and educator in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Willey is a lecturer in Art and Design at the University of Wisconsin’s Peck School of the Arts, and the Creative Director of UWM’s Immersive Media Lab. He teaches all levels of students at the intersection of art and technology. Willey is an accomplished lecturer, curator, and author. Willey earned an MFA in New Genres at the San Francisco Art Institute, and his BFA at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design. During his undergraduate years he studied abroad at the Studio Art Center International in Florence, Italy, and at the Burren College of Art, in County Clare, Ireland. Willey has been heavily influenced by his time working at Apple Retail stores as a Creative. Willey founded the Immersive Media Lab at UWM in 2017. This interdisciplinary collaborative research environment focuses on the data and processes that lead to empathetic experiences such as augmented, virtual, and mixed reality. In the lab, Willey is researching the development of curriculum, overseeing new media projects, and exploring best practices within immersive media. | CV

CHRISTIAN HOLLAND is an emerging creative and artist currently residing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Holland studies at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee as an interdisciplinary artist, with a dedication to bridging Art, Science, and Technology. His work in UWM’s Immersive Media Lab focuses on Virtual and Augmented Reality content development, which involves three-dimensional content generation and animation in a digital setting. His personal practice expands into photography, graphic design, and generative visual art with a fascination in cosmology, light and color, perception, and the human condition. 

MAGGIE FRANZEN is an Art and Design student at UW-Milwaukee who’s working towards a degree in Digital Studio Practice—an interdisciplinary program where she studies various techniques to develop diverse, multimedia portfolio. Born and raised in Milwaukee, she has spent years exploring different avenues of creative expression such as painting and drawing, animation, writing, and music. Described as a “melancholic beauty,” her personal work explores “creative catharsis,” contradictions, and affective experiences that toe the line between natural and surreal. 

ADAM WERTEL is a Master of Fine Arts candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, studying in the fields of Design and Digital Studio Practices. Utilizing traditional, digital, and new media techniques, Wertel focuses his art practice on interactive and participatory art. By creating objects and digitally augmented environments, Wertel encourages his audience to experience our usual, familiar surroundings in a new, unusual, and informative way. Wertel’s current art practice is influenced by his professional background as a digital artist. With over 10 years of experience in digital art and graphic design, Wertel has a portfolio of work that encompasses logo design, branding, 3D modelling, 3D rendering, video editing, animation, and coding for art. He has also worked with clients on projects that include product realization, design for industrial processes, food styling, and photography. In addition to his art practice, Wertel is currently a Teaching Assistant in the Design and Visual Communication Program at UWM, a Project Assistant, and a creative entrepreneur. In 2017, Wertel has been awarded the Frederick R. Layton Graduate Fellowship and the Chancellor’s Graduate Student Award. | CV

SARAH WRIGHT is a creative maker and student interested in narrative form, puppetry, costumery, new media, and digital arts. She studies Digital Studio Practice at UWM’s Peck School of the Arts where she also works as a undergraduate research assistant and digital arts tutor. Her studies in the interdisciplinary program focus on honing skills that can help her merge the traditional mediums of puppetry and costumery with Digital Technology and new media ideals. Her personal work explores concepts of identity, healing and protection, and the natural and supernatural worlds. Sarah worked on the conceptual aspects of Ephemeral Forest as well as designing, modeling, texturing, and animating the digital assets for the vignettes.  


PROJECT Statement

The Ephemeral Forest is a perfect example of an interdisciplinary experience brought to life through the convergence of immersive media. This project uses the newest creative technologies to illuminate ‘magical’ moments within nature, such as metamorphosis or biological competition, in order to convey a new story that reconnects us with the beauty of our surroundings. The evolving interest in new forms of interactive and participatory art has allowed the Immersive Media Lab to unfold new genres. Our Ephemeral Forest experience aims to give a magical presence to the unseen entities of the world around us in order to foster a sense of awareness and promote stewardship.

Electronic music originally composed and combined with the sounds of nature to illustrate the harmony between the two.