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Collaborator: Studio Elana Schlenker (Elana Schlenker and Nick Sheeran)

Client: Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture, EX-CHANGE

Director: Sarah Rafson

EX-CHANGE is an annual exhibition and publication celebrating the work of the Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture from first year to PhD. Inaugurated in 2017, EX-CHANGE represents an ongoing opportunity to shine new light on the SoA’s programs and to position the work within larger questions of research and practice.

Back in person for the first time, EX-CHANGE 2021 is fundamentally a consideration and celebration of holding space for the work and for the students. Designers Leah Wulfman and Elana Schlenker sought to capture and begin to formalize and format the amorphousness that everyone had experienced over the past two years. Wulfman and Schlenker developed a hybridized format of a video game, publication and exhibition all of which had overlapping qualities and experiences. Starting with a series of 3d amorphous letters—almost like aluminium caught in its liquid state—which could be rotated and moved around to change their readings, the designers generated a fun, inclusive graphic treatment for the project overall, spanning print to custom controllers and video game, 2d to 3d.

Playable within the space of the exhibition and online, the video game is made further tangible and specific using custom controllers and custom projection screens. These projection screens were staggered in the space to create more communal and more solitary spaces for game play, in order to reimagine and relax the space of the exhibition as a non-hierarchical arcade. Players select from a series of characters prior to entering into a 3d space, where through a series of door portals, they find themselves in the 2d spaces of the SoA studios and classrooms. In these 2d studio pinup spaces, players freely interact with the 100+ courses—ranging from core studios to electives, from undergrad 3d models to PhD research papers, and from student groups to youth programs—as well as professor and student ambassador NPCs whom speak through their work and interests.

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