DANM M.F.A. Exhibition

Week One: Fri–Sat, April 26–27, 2024
Week Two: Wed–Sat, May 1–4, 2024
Open Admission from  noon–5:00 p.m.

Digital Arts Research Center (DARC), UC Santa Cruz

More event details here

Embodiments presents the thesis research and culminating projects of the Digital Art and New Media (DANM) M.F.A. graduating cohort of spring 2024. The exhibition features multimedia performances and interactive installations, visual novels, games, virtual reality, sound art and an interactive puzzle-based experience exhibited throughout the Digital Arts Research Center at UC Santa Cruz.

This event is curated by Karlton Hester and presented by the UC Santa Cruz Digital Arts and New Media and Music Department as part of the April in Santa Cruz Festival.


Kristopher Funk is a mixed-media installation artist born and raised in the Bay Area. He creates puzzle-based experiences that tackle questions of identity and access, specifically dealing with their experiences navigating the world as a transgender crip. Funk synthesizes sculptural, interactive, and spatial practices to critique topics of gender, identity, disability, and access. Funk received a B.F.A. in Comparative Media Studies and Game Design from Whittier College in 2021 and is working towards his M.F.A. in Digital Art and New Media at UC Santa Cruz. They have exhibited their work at Liminal Space’s “Northern Lights” and during Open Studio events at UCSC. Kristopher currently resides in Santa Cruz, California.

Jordan Fickel is a multidisciplinary artist specializing in sound and game technology, wooden cutouts, and graffiti tools. His solo work interrogates unexamined normative viewpoints to create installations and sound pieces. Jordan is influenced by media and glitch art, the queer community, video games, and his personal experience with neurodivergence. His M.F.A. thesis work includes elements of social practice and experimental documentary. Jordan collaborates as half of the art duo BEARPAD, creating explicitly fat positive and sex positive queer installations for parties and galleries all over the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.

Robbie Trocchia is a conceptual artist working in performance, sound, video, installation, and sculpture. In his performances and multimedia installations, he explores embodiment, desire, and intimacy. Robbie’s work engages with entanglements of the self and collectivity through collaborative processes. He takes an anachronistic approach to (re)contextualizing objects, bodies, and formal structures to speculate on the undiscovered potentialities of queer subcultural experiences. He is currently working in collaboration with Nicki Duval on a growing series of performances developed with competitive athletes. He has presented work in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and San Francisco, and has participated in residencies at Espai Souvenir (Barcelona), Espacio Lavadero (Granada), and Locust Projects (Miami). He received his B.A. in American Studies from Vassar College in 2014 and is a 2024 M.F.A. candidate in Digital Arts and New Media at UC Santa Cruz. 

Saul Villegas is an interdisciplinary artist and researcher whose work focuses on the exploration of scientific taxonomies, digital art and new media. His work in the OpenLab Collaborative Research Center and the Venom Lab at UC Santa Cruz merges art and science to develop interactive artworks focused on the environment and reimagining of archives through storytelling. He has exhibited his mixed media works online featuring deep-sea coral specimens in an online festival with New Art City’s Memory Card (2023). Last summer he engaged in a flagship residency program with EmergeNYC (Brooklyn’s Art Exchange) through E.A.R.T.H. Lab SF, where he developed the character of The Sun.  Saul was born and raised in Avenal, California. He works between Santa Cruz and the Central Valley while completing his M.F.A. degree in Digital Arts and New Media (DANM) at UCSC. 

Elliot Rex White is an artist from Los Angeles, California, currently working in Santa Cruz. They primarily create experimental narrative games drawing from a sculpture and digital illustration practice. Influenced heavily by science fiction and body horror, they utilize speculative biology to explore ways personal embodiment can extend into strange new forms as well as how the monster can be a place of identity. Their work mingles together the grotesque, comedic, and sometimes unsettling to articulate experiences of neurodivergent trans life. Their games and animation works have been featured at the UC Davis Film Festival, 2018 & 2019, the Melbourne Queer Games Festival, 2020, and UCSC’s Arts Division Open Studios, 2023. Their dragon puppet design and fabrication for Unibeauty and Her Wicked Daughters was performed by UCSC’s Department of Performance, Play & Design, also in 2023. They are a graduate from UC Davis with a B.F.A. in Studio Art and Cinema & Digital Media and will graduate from UC Santa Cruz’s Digital Arts and New Media (DANM) M.F.A. program in spring 2024.


Kristopher Funk: Facades of Ingress (2024)

Facades of Ingress is an interactive puzzle-based experience revealing the monster that lies at the center of the institution. It holds the power to grant accommodations and provide an avenue to accessible education for all. Instead, it is greedy. It creates complex systems of paperwork, deeply intrusive medical exams, and copious layers of bureaucracy to hold hostage the resources it hordes. 

Jordan Fickel: Eagle UCSC (work in progress, 2024)

Eagle UCSC is a deconstruction of leather and kink spaces, focusing on the visual culture and its hidden history. Jordan Fickel has collaborated with a number of California-based erotic artists to construct larger than life wooden cutouts imbued with various erotic desires. Unlike the Tom of Finland inspired dominant visual representation of men seen in these spaces, these cutouts present a path forward and an updated vision for these spaces that better fits the current kink scene. After this exhibit, these pieces will be placed in a number of leather bars around the country in order to directly have an impact on the visual culture of this community.

Robbie Trocchia: Untitled (2024)

Untitled is a multimedia performance and installation involving choreographed and improvisational movement, spatialized sound, and touch-activated soft sculptures. The performance is framed in the style of a showroom or instructional guide, presenting a new form of technology that absorbs erotic charge and converts it into a renewable source of energy. The performers cycle between “pumping” the receivers with various parts of their bodies in sonic harmony with other performers, “charging” their batteries in moments of passive solitude, and composing group-choreographed sequences that link these two states of being: the production and consumption of erotic energy.  

 Saul Villegas: Cristela’s Shadow (2024)

Cristela’s Shadow is a three-part installation in virtual reality and a physical space that explores personal memories through 3D, video projections and photographic media. The work builds upon themes of memory, perception and trauma as viewers encounter the cathartic experience of losing a loved one. Employing an autoethnographic methodology, the work delves into the complexities of trauma, utilizing imaginal exposure techniques to explore its transformative potential for healing through art.

Elliot Rex White: A Night for Flesh and Roses (2024)

A Night for Flesh and Roses is a single player, gothic, borderline romantic, visual novel where players investigate a strange imagined future, those living in it, and construct their own ideas of bodies. Surrounding players is an immersive, physical installation creating passages of fleshy/fabric textured collages that evoke the style of the game itself. The work explores games in non-sterile, tactile, and playful ways, bridging digital and analog spaces. It continues the tradition of indie games that are messy, trans, and full of monsters.