Michelle & Vancouver Biennale
This week’s SFU Surrey Co-op featured student is Michelle Illing– a fourth-year student majoring in Interactive, Arts, and Technology (SIAT) who completed her first co-op placement at Vancouver Biennale. Vancouver Biennale is a non-profit charitable organization that exhibits great art in public space, creating a catalyst for learning, community engagement, dialogue, and social action. Its mission is to make Public Art accessible, engaging, and motivating to create vibrant and inspired communities.
Throughout her journey with Vancouver Biennale, Michelle took part in a creative project as part of her work assignment called Voxel Bridge. Voxel Bridge is a public art installation underneath the Cambie Street Bridge that comes to life as the biggest blockchain-based augmented reality experience of its kind. She says “At first glance, the artwork takes the form of a massive two-dimensional vinyl mural that wraps the pedestrian walkway, but it is a multi-sensory adventure made possible by the revolutionary advancements in Augmented Reality (AR) developed for this installation by Spheroid Universe and supported by blockchain technology on the Kusama network. The AR portion of the app walks viewers through a journey of the Kusama network and the blockchain”.
Michelle contributed to the Voxel Bridge by designing the app interface for the Vancouver Biennale app (excluding AR components); taking documentary footage of the installation; designing buttons; testing and coordinating another sample to test the AR component of the app; and working with the development team, Spheroid Universe, to present and adjust her designs.
Her Favorite Part
Michelle says she has always enjoyed engaging with her co-workers and being surrounded by a lot of colours every day working in the office (pink and yellow everywhere!). She says “I’ve also really enjoyed being able to brainstorm ideas with my colleagues and be involved in many different projects. Fantastically, being able to launch our project with the app that I worked on and participating in launch day!”
Michelle was an absolute delight to have on board, and was instrumental in the UI development for the official Vancouver Biennale app. She settled comfortably into our workplace and became an integral part of the team. Having students working alongside us really keeps us on our toes and pushes us to remain relevant – Michelle’s knowledge of current practices was invaluable. Not only was her skillset impressive, her quick and critical thinking played a key role on every project she worked on. We are very grateful for her hard work and will be staying in touch!
How the SFU SIAT Co-op Program Has Supported Michelle
Michelle mentioned that the SIAT Co-op program provided a lot of support with continuous feedback helping her to improve her resume and establish her portfolio content since it was her first time creating a portfolio. She also says “Co-op encouraged me to do assignments during co-op (such as my final project writeup), which I didn’t particularly enjoy but will be very helpful for me when I want to add a new project to my portfolio since I have already done all the work in my co-op report!”
Michelle’s Advice for other Co-op Students
Don't be afraid to apply to jobs where you don't have the necessary skillset. When I applied for this job, it was an information tech-related job but after I applied, the Vancouver Biennale ended up changing the position and hiring me as an experience design intern instead. If you feel that you will fit in with the company, just go for it because if they like you enough, they will find a way to have you join their company. Do your best to highlight your main skills and let your potential employers decide whether to hire you or not - don't self-eliminate.
Check out the project: https://apps.apple.com/ca/app/vancouver-biennale/id1566651727