CityU’s Extreme Environments program is a highly regarded experiment in discovery-based education presented by the School of Creative Media (SCM), the only art school to connect its students with the planet’s most inaccessible sites.In each expedition, students explore an endangered ecosystem and collect data that is transformed into new media artworks to promote a better understanding of issues affecting the environment.
The students research and create their work through arts-based field research, which is a groundbreaking idea in design education.While scientists working in natural sites strive to keep their influence from the results, artists are the opposite, their point of view and presence is the most important part of the experiment.By using the tools of creative media to express their direct, personal experience on these trips, both the site and the artist-in-the-site are built into the message.The resulting artworks represent more than just nature but our relationship with it.
Each expedition partners with scientific and environmental organizations dedicated to the protection of these fragile sites.The students join existing field studies to insure that their impact is minimal — nothing is taken or left behind.Once back in Hong Kong, they use the unique tools of the School of Creative Media to interpret and present their discoveries in new forms. Data is not just visualized but mediated — transformed creatively into games, interactive artworks, cinema, animations and more, to help engage with wider audiences.
The Extreme Environments program is now one of the most respected discovery-based education initiatives in the world, discussed in top international journals, news media and conferences.2014’s Antarctica expedition and exhibition were highlights of City University’s 30th anniversary celebration and 2012’s trek into the Mojave Desert established partnerships with some of the world’s leading scientists and field research organizations. 2015’s expedition to a remote underground cave network in Vietnam marked the first students and designers to explore the recently discovered sites.