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Vancouver group steps up to keep ‘A Radio Christmas Carol’ on the air

The golden age of radio gets newer all the time.

For years now, the Kiggins Theatre and Re-Imagined Radio, a Washington State University Vancouver project, have been reviving the bygone era when families gathered around a grand wooden box in the living room to listen.

So, local radio-drama lovers nearly slipped on a banana peel upon hearing that, for the first time in years, Portland’s busy Willamette Radio Workshop won’t perform its annual holiday classic “A Radio Christmas Carol” at the Kiggins this year.

John Barber

“We couldn’t find a time that worked for everyone,” said John Barber, who has steered Re-Imagined Radio as a faculty member in the creative media and digital culture department at WSUV. “It was a challenge we just couldn’t solve.”

But Kiggins owner Dan Wyatt recalled that Vancouver’s own Metropolitan Performing Arts group recently shone during a live reading of the script “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” at a Harry Potter festival. Turning to Metropolitan to carry on the radio-drama tradition seemed like the perfect way to transform a loss into a win, Barber said.

“Let’s go a little more grassroots than before,” he thought. “Why have this event in Vancouver and bring in the entertainment from afar?” The idea of developing a local stable of voice actors and sound-effects specialists “is quite exciting when you think about all the ways it could go,” he said.

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The Columbian

Homer on a flash drive

Plato is sitting at the feet of his mentor Socrates, writing down what the old philosopher says. What Socrates is saying, ironically, is that writing is bad for you: It rots your memory. Preserved in Plato’s Phaedrus, Socrates’s opinion of the then-emerging technology sounds strange to us now—until you recall that that’s pretty much exactly what pundits in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have been saying about TV, video games, and texting.

Dene GrigarDene Grigar, director of Washington State University Vancouver’s program in Creative Media and Digital Culture, laughs and nods. She’s also the president of the Electronic Literature Organization, an international team of scholars and artists dedicated to creating, preserving and evangelizing “born-digital” art and literature.

“Remember the fireside chats?” she asks, harkening back to World War II and Roosevelt’s cozy, comfort-food style of delivering encouragement to a nation at war with fascism.

“Read the reviews,” she continues. “People didn’t want fireside chats, people didn’t embrace them. The president making himself available?” The demonstrative redhead waves her hands, a gesture that says, Shocking! “No! You’ve got to be behind a podium.

“The Industrial Age is a model for us,” she continues, tromping up the stairs to her lab. “They were struggling with transitioning from an agricultural economy to a manufacturing one. Mechanizing jobs, the introduction of machines into everyday life.” She enters her lab and concludes, “We are struggling through a lot of these issues that we’ve already struggled through before. But now with different technologies.”

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Washington State Magazine

Augmented-reality experience helps tell Academy’s history

WSUV program’s app will enhance historic site’s Dec. 8 anniversary.

Mother Joseph and her fellow Sisters of Providence arrived in Vancouver, Wash., on Dec. 8, 1856. The 161st anniversary of that event will be celebrated when an augmented-reality experience and some other visitor-friendly features are unveiled at Providence Academy.

Dene Grigar

The augmented-reality feature is a new mobile app created by the Creative Media and Digital Culture program directed by Dene Grigar at Washington State University Vancouver.

The app will provide a virtual history of Providence Academy through mobile devices. Visitors will be able to point their phone at sites around the building and interact with the videos and graphics that appear.

One augmented-reality segment is built around an animated version of the building’s bell. Visitors will be able to pull their phones downward in a tugging motion, ringing the 400-pound bell.

Students in professor Grigar’s class have also visited the Providence Archives in Seattle to review historical documents and images.

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The Columbian

Electronic Literature’s Contemporary Moment: Breeze and Campbell’s “All the Delicate Duplicates”

Dene Grigar

In the Electronic Book Review, Dene Grigar, professor and director of the creative media and digital culture program at WSU Vancover and president of the Electronic Literature Organization, points to those barriers that have marginalized electronic literature in classrooms and popular culture, arguing that resistance to the form emanates from “deeply-held views of the proper relationship between humans and machines, of what constitutes the good, the beautiful and the true, and of the nature of art.” In many respects, such barriers persist, and electronic literature has generally remained marginalized among publishers, critics, and institutions of education. It has, however, crept into popular culture, and its readers don’t even know it.

At WSU Vancouver, there is a densely packed room in the heart of the campus that resembles something of a Mac museum. It is Grigar’s Electronic Literature Lab, and it holds what is possibly the greatest collection of first-generation e-lit in the Western world. Grigar has dedicated her career to ensuring that future generations know that this stuff existed — she does so because she loves it and wants to see it survive. Electronic literary history is already fractured, with many of the canon’s earliest works now rendered obsolete as a consequence of their reliance on defunct proprietary formats. The ELL contains a wide catalog of e-lit works, largely from the 1980s and ’90s, alongside the hardware required to experience them as their authors/creators/coders intended.

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Los Angeles Review of Books

Augmented Reality Experience at Providence Academy

The Historic Trust, formerly titled the Fort Vancouver National Trust, is partnering with the Creative Media and Digital Culture program at Washington State University Vancouver in the development of a new engagement tool that will allow visitors to experience the history of Providence Academy through mobile devices.

Once the project is launched, after December 6, 2017, visitors to the site will be able to access a free app and point their smart phone or tablet toward areas outside and inside the Providence Academy. This will activate visual and auditory episodes created through augmented reality applications. “The app will bring history to life and showcase the Academy’s stories, people, and cultural significance in inventive and imaginative ways,” said Richard Burrows, Director of Community Outreach and Programs at The Historic Trust.

The WSU Vancouver class of 21 students will create ten episodes, starting with Mother Joseph, the architect and founder of Providence Academy, welcoming visitors to the building. Other virtual experiences will include ringing the bell in the tower, lighting a candle in the Shrine to the Blessed Mother, viewing buildings no longer standing on the grounds, and retracing the Sisters of Providence fundraising excursions throughout the West.

Dene Grigar

“This collaboration is representative of The Historic Trust’s commitment to new, innovative, and interactive programming that is at the forefront of technologies,” said Burrows. “Access to the visionary leadership of Dr. Dene Grigar, Director and Professor of WSU Vancouver’s Creative Media and Digital Culture, in combination with the extraordinary abilities of the students, will result in groundbreaking opportunities for the public and visitors to gain deeper understanding about our roots and history.”

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Vancouver Family Magazine