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Daniel Phelps

About Me

"After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in esthetics, plasticity, and form. The greatest scientists are always artists as well." Albert Einstein -- Remark made in 1923; recalled by Archibald Henderson, Durham Morning Herald, August 21, 1955; Einstein Archive 33-257.

Current Activities and Interests

Ph.D. Candidate, The Georgia Institute of Technology

After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in esthetics, plasticity, and form. The greatest scientists are always artists as well.


Albert Einstein — Remark made in 1923; recalled by Archibald Henderson, Durham Morning Herald, August 21, 1955





Current Work (Oak Ridge National Laboratory)

Current Work (National Lynching Memorial)

(From 2020) I am in the final stages of an applied science and technology grant awarded by NASA for the creation of a student-built robotic mining vehicle.  My documentary, The Domino Effect, is showing well in the New York City area as well as selling directly to community advocacy groups, libraries, and Sociology/Urban Planning Departments in Higher Education. My VR documentary series was also recently funded and will be complete in early 2019.

Fifteen years ago, I found myself working within the entertainment industry in various roles. The work exposed me to an almost limitless amount of creative possibilities. Large budgets and access to new creative tools imbibed me with curiosity. It’s here where I learned that for some, media & technology could be a drug and I was addicted. The opportunities to become a “creative professional” were intoxicating, yet my work was unsatisfying. Storylines and clients shared the same homogenous view of our society, and it wasn’t long before I understood that the media I was creating was not meaningful or authentic in any shape, way or form. So I took with me a curiosity, love, and obsession with emerging technology and left that career, confident that there was something more.

That something more for me was education. What I would come to learn over the next decade is that I not only had a passion for teaching but also for crafting the creative learning tools for engaging learners and the public.

Being an interdisciplinary artist and media professor has allowed me to collaborate on a wide range of research ideas and projects. Early on in my academic career, my work obsessed over the opportunity to create new experiences focused on engagement. Although this could still be said about my work today, the opportunities I seek are now are outward facing as my practice grows to create tools for teaching in meaningful and authentic ways. Projects highlighting social engagement feature; a documentary focusing on gentrification and land-use politics meant to educate and advocate for social change, composing interactive 3D gallery installations that concentrate on the plight of the homeless population during the long winters in NYC, and crafting touch-based interactive pieces for gallery shows that document the evolution of building reform and public housing in 1960’s Italy.  I consider themes in these works to be the first creative seeds in my social advocacy and educational garden. As new ideas of my work are planted, my curiosity has grown to incorporate additional modalities of public discourse.

Beyond my interest in the creation of emerging forms of physical and computational artistic artifacts lies a need to better understand how we, as educators can efficiently engage participants in significant computing and creative practice. More specifically, how can we use emerging technology as a vessel to engage learners on the complex ideas presented in STEM? Specific techniques that I am interested in all lay along the brackish physical/computational dividing line. Where digital artifacts become a reality in the digital fabrication of 3D printed generative design and the digitally transformative power that virtual and augmented reality can provide. Ultimately, my research interests primarily revolve around these two questions:

1)    How can we create socially-responsible interactive-art through extended-reality technologies that engage learners by capitalizing on their natural spatial, auditory-musical, and kinesthetic learning styles?

2)    What tangible and meaningful learning outcomes can be found by physically manifesting the ethereally digital into evident visual/sonic embodiments of augmented or physical forms?