EMD @ UCI

We connect people through creative production, exhibition and performance.

Directed by Professor John Crawford, the Emergent Media Design Lab is based at University of California, Irvine. Our work integrates socially engaged artmaking with emergent media and connected design, dedicated to creating compelling interactive experiences and building upon the emerging technologies of the 21st century.

Leaf emerging from cracked soil

Socially Engaged Artmaking

In collaboration with our communities, we make art that grapples with environmental, cultural and political issues, considering both immediate relevance and future potential for societal change.

Emergent Media

We engage with new forms of expression enabled by emerging technologies, perhaps turning these media in directions not foreseen by their creators, opening new pathways for creative thinking.

Connected Design

We employ connected, responsible methods based on empathy, ideation, intuition and iteration to guide research and development toward solutions based on people's lived experience and actual needs.

Current Work

Our projects are dedicated to creating diverse collaborative environments where people engage with challenging ideas in tangible, sensorial and experiential ways. Our courses and collaboratories aim to engage the next generation of technology-savvy art makers, storytellers and designers, enabling and inspiring them as changemakers.

Dancers performing in Living in the Tempest

Projects that deploy emerging technologies to make art with relevant impact for social good.

Person exploring an augmented reality system

Courses by Prof. John Crawford and associated faculty for students in all areas of the UCI campus.

People planting together

Collaboratories connecting students and faculty in collaborations with other leading institutions.

EMD Lab Backstory

The Emergent Media Design Lab is dedicated to the development and production of compelling interactive experiences, building upon the emerging technologies of the 21st century. More than ever, we feel these objectives are timely, achievable and crucially important.

UC Irvine's Claire Trevor School of the Arts (CTSA) formed the Institute for 21st Century Creativity (21C) as a school center in 2016. With support from Vice Chancellor Khargonekar and Dean Barker, and directed by Professor Crawford, this new initiative was charged with supporting faculty research and creative projects in art, technology and design, based in CTSA and reaching across the UCI campus. In late 2019, Provost Lavernia provided additional funding to rebrand 21C as the UCI Emergent Media + Design Institute (EM+D), with the expectation that the new EM+D institute would significantly expand the original 21C research mandate to develop an ambitious transdisciplinary curriculum coupled with new degree programs intersecting art, technology and design.

Budget concerns associated with the coronavirus pandemic prompted reassessment of many new UCI initiatives, including EM+D. In September 2020, Dean Barker cancelled the EM+D academic program in order to redirect scarce resources to existing curricula and core programs in the School of the Arts. Subsequently, Professor Crawford launched the Emergent Media Design Lab as an individual faculty project to support his work with colleagues and students in creative production, exhibition and performance.