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Scotlight: Thanh Nguyen

Thanh Nguyen ’19, a double major in studio art and computer science, discusses her process for her junior I.S. and her plans for her senior I.S.

What is it like to be a double major in studio art and computer science?

I was actually really hesitant about it because, you know, that’s a large work load, but in the end, I managed to do it. I can’t really separate it, to be honest, because my art in a way also has a logical side to it, and my computer science is also related to my art major. For example, [last year] I had my double junior I.S. going on. For computer science, I did my software by making a game but then I drew the graphics for it. I have to have some kind of relation between them, or else I get bored. I can’t do pure art or pure computer science.

What was involved in your second junior I.S. in studio art?

It was more of me integrating my drawing process into my everyday life. I didn’t try to make it a routine or something that disrupted my life because that’s not what the project was about. I sometimes did wake up in the middle of the night and have all these thoughts that I needed to vent about to calm myself down. Also, in the way that I draw, I don’t plan it out and I just draw whatever I want. If I see it one way [while I’m drawing], I will draw it that way. And if I screw up, I just make it into something else. It’s this kind of logical process of thinking that I have, even in my art. 

[My junior I.S.] was actually focused on how our way of thinking is affected by two realities. We have the outer reality with our surroundings, how we see and interact with things, events and people, but then we also have our inner reality which is our thinking and our emotions. They are kind of interchangeable, because our way of thinking affects how we see things. I did my junior I.S. on drawing and how both of these realities structure my drawings visually. 

I would just draw three times a day informally about what I see or feel in that moment, and my whole process of thinking was the result, not just the drawing itself. In the end, I had 143 drawings, some of which I liked and some of which I didn’t like. When I look at those drawings, I remember when I drew it and how I felt in that moment.

What topic are you covering for your senior I.S.?

I wanted a challenge, so since I’m more confident in drawing, I decided to work with Virtual Reality, 3-D modeling and storytelling. What I plan on is having a virtual world that users can interact with using their hands and through these interactions, they understand the narrative. For the art [aspect], I talk about the global recycling process. 

There was a recent ban from China on importing foreign waste into the country. When you recycle something [in the United States], after being processed, it will be shipped to China or Asian countries [where it is put through] a manual recycling process that is polluting and expensive. What motivated me is that there’s all this trash that is actually being shipped to developing countries such as Vietnam, China, Thailand and African countries to be processed manually. 

I want to bring awareness to this problem. I’m trying to make a Virtual Reality world about this topic that’s a little bit confusing and a little bit uncomfortable. In this future, the trash and pollution takes over and humans are forced to change their lifestyle when they start dying off. Instead of recycling, they have to reuse by eating plastic; it’s very fictional, but it’s art. That’s where the Virtual Reality comes in; I have to make this world that’s nonexistent.

Interview by Abby Everidge, a Staff Writer for the Voice (Photo courtesy Thanh Nguyen).

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