Gene A. Felice II bridges his creative practice across art, science, education and design, developing a sustainable network of innovation, living systems, and emerging technologies. His hybrid practice grows at the intersection of nature and technology, developing coactive systems as arts science research. His interactive work uses input sources from bio and eco sensors, cameras, touch screens and online data sources, feeding output from motors, LED’s, video projectors, speakers and more. These interdependent systems of hardware and software translate research through conceptual frameworks into interactive, multi-sensory puzzles. Recent work explores both passive and active modes of interaction, providing multiple ways for the audience to engage with the work. Video and animated imagery displayed via projection mapping, transform two dimensional surfaces and architectural structures into three-dimensional storytelling systems. Throughout his production process, emerging technologies such as 3D printing, laser cutting & CNC milling hybridize with older methods such as wood fabrication, lost wax bronze casting, ceramics, glass casting and more. While keeping site specific histories in mind, he achieves confluence by merging these varied passions into a system of creative collaboration.

Gene A.Felice II is an assistant professor within the Intermedia & New Media programs and the interim director of the Innovative Media Research & Commercialization Center (IMRC) at the University of Maine where he is developing the Coaction Lab for interdisciplinary collaboration. His work has been featured nationally at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, internationally at Sussex University in the UK and most recently at ISEA Hong Kong.

lab website:  www.coactionlab.org

Teaching Philosophy:

My passion for teaching evolved within a family of educators; my father, sister, wife and her family all working in the field.  This collective of teachers has been fundamental to my development as a lifelong learner, building a solid foundation of questioning, experimentation, and collaboration. My education and creative practice have developed under the generous mentorship of artists and educators including Ann Hamilton, Helen & Newton Harrison, Jennifer Parker, Ken Rinaldo, Owen Smith, Stelarc and Amy Youngs. These mentors provided a range of influence and perspective on creativity, scale and complexity that continues to reverberate through all of my creative efforts.

In the past, my full-time teaching responsibility included both undergraduate and graduate level courses within the New Media department and Intermedia MFA / PHD programs at the University of Maine.  Currently, my teaching is focused on undergraduate courses in the Digital Arts and Studio Art programs at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. In the classroom, I strive to find synergy between direct instruction and active learning by carefully alternating classroom discussion with hands-on exploration, group projects, critique, and self-reflection. I explore the differences between teaching and learning through a constant reevaluation of my pedagogy, examining the ways in which we share and develop knowledge both as individuals and in groups.  This has become particularly important during the challenges of the pandemic, switching to fully online and now back to in person, with new opportunities for hybrid blends of both in the future, but with a clear understanding that in person education can never be replaced by a fully digital alternative. Through an ongoing dialog with each student individually and in small groups, I create individualized learning experiences that spans the spectrum of their abilities and needs, establishing clear lines of communication, expectations, and trust.  I make room for my students to understand complex subjects by teaching them to break it down into digestible portions with an attention to time / project management.  Systems thinking serves as a way for them to explore large scale societal problems by focusing on interaction between the components that form the whole. Group collaboration helps develop their capacity to adapt beyond current abilities, growing new vocabularies and fresh perspectives. Detailed proposals and self-reflection push my students to re-evaluate their intentions, process and results on a regular basis. Developing refined portfolios of their work with professional documentation techniques and open-source online web frameworks provides new modes for self-reflection as well as a professional gateway to future opportunities.  Conceptually, I encourage my students to dig deeper into their research, to follow their own path and to connect to their local histories and communities.  These approaches equip them with the tools to innovate and adapt to whatever challenges arise in the future.

A recent example of my educational approach that also integrates an emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion, is the Blackness: A Framework project (www.blacknessaframework.org) that I led and co-produced with several faculty, students and community members across the Wilmington area.  UNCW’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Office of Community Engagement and Applied Learning, Office of the Arts, community members, artists and performers came together to create a multi-media art project in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, social justice and the struggle for racial equality. Local artists collaborated with students and faculty from the Dept. of Art & Art History, Theater and Film Studies to create an immersive, digital storytelling experience in one of the main communal spaces of the Fisher Union on the UNCW campus. Visitors witnessed a timeline of related projects exploring shifting perspectives across, race, age and time.  Students, faculty and community members told their stories through moving images and sound projected into the architecture of the space in a dynamic shared experience.  This project is an example of how I actively encourage my students to connect to their personal histories and the issues that directly affect their lives, while also building new bridges to other people’s lives and histories, promoting empathy and understanding through artistic and educational frameworks.

An essential tool set that I bring to all of my classrooms is the ability to improvise and utilize resources at hand, to optimize current systems and to develop pathways to emerging technology. This includes expanding awareness of the palette of analog and digital tools that can be explored throughout a creative practice.  As the interim director of the IMRC (https://imrccenter.umaine.edu/ ) I helped develop clear and concise protocols that improved student access, training and experience with knowledgeable staff, on equipment that allowed them to develop their creative concepts at a sophisticated and professional level. I have continued this practice at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, creating and managing our new Digitial Arts computer and fabrication labs with supporting classrooms and student project spaces.  I work with my fellow faculty to embed the learning of new equipment within their classrooms and curriculum so that our students develop a conceptual framework that is supported by a constantly evolving palette of technology. I enjoy opening the minds of my students to the countless hybrid possibilities that exist both within and beyond the screen. This includes mediums / technologies such as: 2D & 3D animation, motion graphics / compositing, interactive web / portfolio development, app / game / VR development, photo and video shooting / editing, video projection mapping, data visualization / translation, indoor & outdoor multi-media installation, interactive micro-controller-based systems, new forms of 2D and 3D prototyping such as laser cutting, 3D printing, CNC milling, mold making /casting and more. With the dawning of a new age of 3D printing and other constantly evolving digital technologies, there is a necessity for making eco-conscious choices in how we make, why we make and who we’re making it for; so that we can avoid filling our landfills and oceans with an endless array of plastic / digital waste. By understanding the materials that we work with, where they come from and will ultimately end up, I hope to inspire future generations to make sustainable, ethical and just choices in how they create.

Helping my students to develop their own conceptual approach to art and design is an essential aspect of my teaching philosophy. I explore the relationships between how we do something technologically and why we chose to do what we do as creative organisms. Transdisciplinary collaboration allows my students to focus with a farsighted viewpoint, bringing in the perspectives of other students and disciplines across academia and into our surrounding communities.  This educational framework promotes an adaptable, growth-oriented mindset that prepares my students for a constantly shifting landscape.