Brendan Bradley Innovation Lab Creates Space for Student Collaboration Across Schools and Departments

Wednesday, Dec 19, 2018

Final presentation on December 7

Students present a final presentation on December 7, of works from the lab.

This fall, Tisch Drama was proud to organize a second session of the Brendan Bradley Innovation Lab, a cross-department, collaborative initiative designed to foster innovation in live performance using digital media and technologies.

The project—made possible by a generous donation from alumnus Brendan Bradley ‘05—was held over the course of eight weeks at Tisch and in NYU’s Brooklyn-based MAGNET Center (Media and Games Network). In addition to fostering innovation, Bradley noted the lab itself is an innovative structure for learning, as a think tank established to introduce artists and thought-leaders across the University.

“In founding the lab, I hoped to disrupt the silos of a traditional BFA program that can be counterintuitive to a 21st-century approach to arts education,” he explained. “It’s crucial that students have early opportunities to develop the skills of collaboration and communication within their discipline.

Brendan Bradley '05
Brendan Bradley '05

“And, as technology has become a valued partner of every industry—especially the creation and distribution of art—the lab aims to empower students to explore this partnership without the professional stressors of clients, deadlines, or product expectations.”

Bradley said he was proud of how the program has grown over the past year.

“This year, we doubled our enrollment to include participants from Tisch Drama, Interactive Media Arts, the Game Center at NYU, and the Interactive Telecommunications Program,” he said—“making the lab one of the most collaborative, cross-departmental events at the University.”

As such, students came into the lab with backgrounds in acting, writing, dance, photography, game design, sound and lighting design, and more—fostering a dynamic space ripe for collaboration and discovery.

students talking

Students share their experiences working in the lab.

“We continued to prioritize ‘process over product’ while galvanizing the participants as artists and leaders—not only as collaborators in a shared final presentation, but also to empower each of them to articulate and share their individual practices and processes,” Bradley said.

Christian Weinschenk, a student in NYU’s Game Design program, agreed.

“The lab provided an opportunity to expose myself to different philosophies on a) how to communicate and b) how to express an idea,” Weinschenk elaborated. “That kind of holistic enrichment will be valuable for me going back to the Game Center... And now, I feel like I have this team of people behind me.”

One of those people—Tisch Drama student Michael Moran—said he believes performance and technology to be inherently tied.

“From a philosophical sense, there isn’t really anything separating the use of a prop and a projection system on stage, or in performance,” Moran said. “Both are means to the same end—to get the audience living within the performance. Technology can also equally [interact as] an actor, participant, and performer.”

Kat Vlasova, a student in Interactive Media Arts, said she felt that the lab's integration of technology and performance was crucial in modern education.

“Performance and technology are both vital components of human communication in this era,” she said. “They are interdependent and strengthen each other. Theatre itself is a technology created to communicate ideas.”

On December 7, participating students presented a cumulative interactive performance event that included research and investigation in projection mapping, immersive environments, interactive experiences, video games, installation art, live audio mixing, and more.