Scott Gorham

2022 Graduate Research Fund Awardee
Art & Public Policy Class of 2022

Scott Gorham

Scott Gorham is a visual artist and educator from Oakland, California. His projects combine installation sculpture, neon, and LEDs, with stone circles, extended reality, and digital spaces. His current research focuses on developing empathy and imagination using worldbuilding, manipulatives, and toys.


the MACO garden

As we look to the stars for the future of humankind, how do we use empathy to move forward with an anti-colonial practice? The MACO garden project will take a small cohort of high school students on a journey to explore this question together combining worldbuilding, 3D printed sculpture, neon, video, and game design, with community building, care, and critical dialogue. What is empathy? Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another, but what does that look like at an interpersonal and intrapersonal level? Is empathy innate or is it something we learn? Is it something that can be developed? How can we harness empathy as both a subjective and relational position to solve problems and build better futures?

This project will use collaborative and participatory art production to investigate potential futures and develop the imaginations necessary to create radical change. The cohort will participate in two 4 hour workshops, led by Scott Gorham, Ying Qi, Noah Kernis, and Aris. These workshops will build towards creating a collective digital sculpture exhibition called the MACO garden. Each participant will design their own MACO (Magical Affect Connection Object) with the intent to reach out to worlds and life unknown. These organic forms will be made into digital artifacts, that will then be 3D printed by Noah. Participants will imagine themselves using their MACOs to make contact with extraterrestrial life, and envision what that life could look like. They will design unique sculptural representations of their lifeforms, that will then be fabricated into neon. Ying will guide participants through techniques for embodied filmmaking, using cellphone cameras to imagine interstellar subjectivities. Aris will lead the cohort in designing a 3D digital environment to host the MACOs and the films, that she will then build into a multiplayer exploratory game using the Unity game engine. This game will be available online for free download. There will a final physical exhibition including the MACOs, the neon, and the game live on a large monitor for the audience to explore the MACO garden themselves.

This project combines pedagogy with collective and collaborative methods of art production, at the intersection of art and technology. It will give participating students an opportunity to form social and professional bonds, while addressing social change through visual art. There will be skill sharing between the project’s artists and the participants, as well as the participants with each other. There is an emphasis on community building and care as fundamental practices for creative problem solving (which is why we are having lunch together during the workshops.) The MACO garden will be a unique opportunity for current students to work with a team of professional fabricators to bring their visions to life. The resulting exhibition and exploratory game will give the cohort an opportunity to share their work with their school communities, New York City, and beyond.