Successful Inaugural Semester for Taubman Visualization Lab

The inaugural semester of the Taubman Visualization Lab (TVLab) has been busy. Since its opening in January 2023, the TVLab has been integrated into seventeen courses. In addition, the flexible, collaborative, accessible space equipped with a broad range of Extended Reality (XR) technologies has been home to events, collaborations, and more.

Designed to accommodate everyone from expert to novice, the TVLab enables students in all areas of study at Taubman College to experiment with the most innovative tools possible to help communicate their ideas to the broader world using emergent visualization techniques.

As part of the lab’s inaugural year, Bruno Martelli and Ruth Gibson, commonly known as Gibson/Martelli, are working closely with Taubman College faculty and students as the first TVLab Artists in Residence. The residency is sponsored in collaboration with the U-M Arts Initiative. Gibson/Martelli developed work, conducted workshops, and engaged with student projects, all with a focus on exploring the virtual reality experience, multiscreen video installation, creating immersive worlds, and the development of open-source tools.

“Extended reality platforms are an increasingly central framework for the kind of space-making and spatial visualization that has long been at the core of architecture and planning,” said Jonathan Massey, dean of Taubman College. “I am excited for Gibson/Martelli to help students, faculty, and staff at and beyond Taubman College find new creative possibilities in XR.”

Students using a robot, a sheet, and a ball to interact with each other in the TV Lab

In another first, on March 10, 2023, the TVLab Trade Show hosted visitors from around the world for a one-day series of free and public lectures, workshops, installations, forums, and tech demos focusing on emergent visualization technologies and their spatial applications.

“The conversations and synergy between the people moving from exhibit to exhibit were wonderful. We had people from India, people from Paris, just this great international group talking together. They started discussing collaborating across geographic and disciplinary boundaries and how their ideas fit in with others. That’s where it gets exciting, where these distinctions between the speakers and attendees start to blur,” said Ishan Pal Singh, TVLab Lead.

While the winter 2023 semester offered a taste of things to come, the TVLab is an ever-evolving resource. 70% of Taubman College faculty have expressed interest in incorporating the TVLab into their Fall 2023 courses. Expanded usage will include more urban planning, urban design, and urban technology courses and faculty. Future semesters will also see more student involvement in the lab with events like student-run workshops, new student orientation, and a film club.

Technology changes quickly and, in partnership with students and faculty, the TVLab will continue to advance and unfold in future semesters to support how the Taubman College community thinks and works. To that end, the lab will be adding new hardware, software, and personnel as well as improving and expanding the physical space available to TVLab users. Leaning into the Taubman College ethos of experimentation, the TVLab will continue to purposefully experiment with new technology and tools best suited for transforming the way the design disciplines communicate and engage with the world.