Faculty Profile

Jiayi Young
Associate Professor of Design

Research Interests: Public-engaged data-driven large-scale installations and social interventions

Jiayi Young is an Assistant Professor of Design at the University of California, Davis. Her inquiries lie within the emergent and experimental field of digital media with an emphasis on the cross-disciplinary areas of design that integrates the arts, the sciences with cutting-edge technology. Her current research and creative work are focused on constructing data-driven sensor-enabled interfaces, installations, real-time projection graphics, participatory performances, and immersive environments in cultural and public places with a goal of creating generative energy to engage the public in social dialogue. Using multidisciplinary approaches, her work examines contemporary society including the culture of consumption, the programming and exploitation of the feminine, cultural assimilation, and personal identity. Leveraging social media, crowd-sourced media, and user-created content, she sets up scenarios and creates conditions to make a visible empathetic relationship between people in the presence of contemporary culture. Her work invites the public to participate to come in close contact with an experience that engages the rethinking of the human condition.

Young has published and exhibited nationally and internationally, including Ars Electronica, the International Symposium of Electronic Art (ISEA); the Leonardo Electronic Almanac (LEA); Hall of Science, New York; the United Nation’s Fourth Conference on Women, Beijing, China; the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia; and Moltkerei Werkstatt, Cologne, Germany.

Current Projects

Website: https://www.jiayiyoung.info

>>What does the bot say to the human?
Data Mapping of 2016 U.S. Presidential Election Twitter Activity, 2016-ongoing

This project, with its multiple phases, transforms the 2016 United States Presidential Election Twitter data into a large-scale installation to probe the question of how artificial intelligence via the ways of social media assumes form and transforms the shaping of the future of a nation. 

>>Encountering danse macabre: Negotiating Mortality through Viscosity of Time
Jackson Hall, Mondavi Performance Center, UC Davis, 2016

I am interested in the role public participatory environments play in contemporary culture as social acts or popular practices that shape cultural beliefs. In this interdisciplinary project, I seek to make connections across the humanities, from historical literature to contemporary art and dance, to design and craft a large-scale environment that is a hybrid of an interactive art installation and a stage performance to understand the significance of public participatory social act in the medieval aesthetic past, in turn, to examine the socio-historical and cultural framework of past cultural traditions in relationship to the present. This project enlists an exemplary medieval performance tradition of the danse macabre (“the dance of the death”), as a case study, to probe the relationship between performance-oriented social participatory act and the inaccessible. Medievalists have long lamented the limits of historicist methods to reconstruct a far distant aesthetic past. This project reenacts a contemporary interpretation of this medieval tradition.

>>Dance of a Tiger
Multi-dimensional Mapping of Migration Tracks of Pelagic Species

Phase I: Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb, Croatia, 2012
Phase II: Moltkerei Werkstatt, Cologne Germany, 2013
Phase III: University of Florida, 2017

This project is a multi-dimensional soundscape that maps migration tracks of pelagic (open-ocean) species over time and across geographic locations. Phase I and II mapped one predator and three prey over the course of a two-year period, in the environment of their corresponding sea surface temperature (SST) changes. In the presence of the pressing concern of overfishing, phase III of the project maps migration tracks of Bluefin tunas in the context of fishing vessel routes in the Pacific Ocean. The goal of the immersive installation is to engage the public to experience a visual and audible environment that reflects marine lives in the oceans.

Awards and Grants

  • 2018 Principal Investigator, Global Affairs Seed Grant, UC Davis, $45,000
  • 2018 Principal Investigator, UC Davis Humanities Institute Faculty Research Fellow
  • 2018 Principal Investigator, University of California Humanities Research Institute Metadata 2.0 Grant
  • 2016 Collaborator, 2016 CounterPulse COMBUSTIBLE ART AND TECH RESIDENCY, CounterPulse, San Francisco, CA
  • 2016 Co-Principal Investigator, Crocker Art Museum Commission, Sacramento, CA, $15,900
  • 2016 Principal Investigator, Small Research Grant, UC Davis, CA, $2,000
  • 2016 Principal Investigator, Dean’s Academic Enrichment Fund, UC Davis, CA, $5,000 Travel Grant, UC Davis, CA, $1,600
  • 2016 2nd place, START Technarte World-Wide Competition: Art in Astronomical Observatories, La Palma Observatory, Spain
  • 2016 Finalist, Golden 1 Center, Public Art Commission, Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, Sacramento, CA, $5,000


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