Graphic by Joaquin Kunkel

24X: Collaboration and Innovation

With a theme of "Resistance," this year's edition of 24X aims to bridge the gap between the different disciplines and graduating classes at NYUAD.

Mystery, excitement and no pre-set high bars — this is what defined the start of 24X on the afternoon of Feb. 24. 24X is an Interactive Media program event that brings together ten students from diverse disciplines for 24 hours to create something new. This year marks the second time it is held.
Inspired by Rhizome’s Seven on Seven and Experiments in Art and Technology’s 9 Evenings, 24X was organized to bridge the gap between the arts and science. The theme of this edition, revealed at the outset, was resistance.
From freshmen to graduate students, with interests ranging from game design to engineering to visual arts, participants were paired up to collaborate on a project of their choice, whether it was a presentation, an application or a performance. Each of the five teams was assigned to a mentor that could guide them through the process of creating an original project. Complementary to the crisscrossing pattern of the teams, all the mentors came from different academic backgrounds: Theater, Writing, Political Science, Visual Arts, Fabrication, Physics and Philosophy.
A team made up of a computer scientist and a psychology major, mentored by a writing instructor and a physicist, created an impressive painting project. The idea that two people tied together by their waists could turn a blank canvas into a creative work by scattering paint from the middle of their roped connection drove their piece. Moving together in a certain direction to paint or print solid patterns onto the canvas revealed the beauty of the project.
“I am a game designer and computer scientist. I unfortunately spend most of my time looking at pixels. I wanted to do something that was beyond the screen. In this singular goal my partner and I succeeded! Not a single line of code was written that day but my best shirt has blue paint on it now,” said Batu Aytemiz, Class of 2017, who comprised one half of the team.
For Aytemiz the teamwork component was a challenging yet enjoyable experience.
“It was an important learning experience working with someone outside my own field. We make a lot of assumptions about what people can or cannot do. It was fun to see these get challenged,” added Aytemiz.
Although the format of the event may seem like a competition to many, the purpose of the 24 hour collaboration was not to compete. There was no pressure from the organizers to create a final product and teams were encouraged to come up with ideas and prototypes for their work.
“From the beginning, we had encouraged a culture of support, inclusivity, and openness. I think that definitely manifested itself when each team bravely shared their experience, processes and work. Each team had the same brief and the same theme, but each produced entirely unique, beautiful and meaningful projects,” said Craig Protzel, the organizer of 24X and the Program Head and Assistant Professor of Interactive Media.
At the end of the 24 hours, the five teams presented their reflections in front of a small audience at the Arts Center. The emphasis was not on the outcome, but rather on the process. An interactive punching bag to help people de-stress or a piano that emits sounds when the keys are not pressed were two examples of projects that were showcased.
“The presentations were unbelievably inspiring. This year’s edition ended up being an unbelievably positive experience for everyone involved — for the students, the faculty mentors and the staff. Plus the work that resulted was amazing,” said Protzel.
24 hours may not be enough to build a sustainable project that changes the world, but it may be enough time to get to know people and have fun creating things that can lead to improvements in the world.
Daria Zahaleanu is Deputy Opinion Editor. Email her at feedback@thegazelle.org.
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