Faculty Profile

Jiayi Young
Associate Professor of Design

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

Jiayi Young is an Associate 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 integrate the arts and 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 visible empathetic relationships between people in the presence of contemporary culture. Her work invites the public to participate and to come in close contact with an experience that engages the rethinking of the present-day human experience.​

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 Nations Fourth Conference on Women, Beijing, China; the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia; and Moltkerei Werkstatt, Cologne, Germany.

Website: https://www.jiayiyoung.info

Now Live

>>Project Echo : : Thoughts in Fleeting Moments

Project Echo is a public participatory art project where the real and profound personal concerns of the everyday meet the fabrication of the fake.

Recent Projects

>>Love in the Dialectic of Vanity
An Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Funded, University of California Humanities Research Institute’s Horizons in the Humanities Project
Viewpoint Gallery, University of California, Irvine, 2019

Love in the Dialectic of Vanity is a temporary public art project where the human and the machine coproduce Tanka poems. Tanka originated in seventh-century Japan and is one of the oldest Japanese poetry forms. It consists of 31 syllables and takes on a five-line 5/7/5/7/7 syllable count form. Because of its economy and immediacy, it is an ideal form for swift, and sometimes intimate and intense, emotional expressions. Lovers in ancient Japan, after a night of courtship, are known to exchange Tanka poems for expressing gifts of gratitude.
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>>Useful Fictions
École polytechnique, Institut Polytechnique de Paris, France​, 2019

Useful Fictions is a week-long symposium and a public participatory art project in Paris. It is a platform to embrace complex problems by modeling radical openness to research in which tools, laboratories, studios are shared between artists and scientists to expand concepts for ecological thinking. Useful Fictions proposes to see the calculation of a catastrophic future not as an inevitability but as an invitation to innovate and effect change.
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>>What does the bot say to the human?
Data Mapping of 2016 U.S. Presidential Election Twitter Activity, 2016-2018

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. 
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University of California, Davis, June 2018
Broad Arts Center, University of California, Los Angeles, April 2019

“UNSEEN” is a temporary public artwork created to help visualize the amount of CO2 produced by human activity. Sponsored by the UC Davis Carbon Neutrality Initiative (CNI), this artwork is conceived and produced by Jiayi Young Studio in conjunction with CNI undergraduate fellow Maria Wong and Design undergraduate Kaela Han.
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Ars Electronica 2017, Linz, Austria

Transduction is a participatory stage performance. It freezes an everyday moment in the present time where exact surveillance, identification, and cataloging of the human experience in bite-size chunks seem to threaten individual autonomy meanwhile laying open an often overextended position of reverberation of the self existing in illusional amplification. The work invites audience participation to collectively compose in the precarious balance between self-exposure, surveillance, narcissistic tendencies, and identity construct, and provokes questions about the relationships between people and a technologically integrated landscape situated in an age-old question of the human condition of loneliness and isolation.
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Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA, 2017

​Inspired by kaleidoscopic configurations, PL!NK is a large-scale, site-specific, interactive installation that immerses children and their caregivers in a visual experience dazzling in color, light, and reflection. An age-old, visual, interactive, and immersive medium, kaleidoscopes are some of the original devices of wonder that alter reality by elevating vision; they continue to fascinate audiences across age and language boundaries. PL!NK inverts the kaleidoscopic experience by reversing the relationship between viewer and object by inviting the viewers to enter into the inner structure of a kaleidoscope and immerse themselves in an expanded field of mirrors and transparent color facets combined with interactive audio and video stations. As viewers explore the installation, their movements and interactions generate form and content in real-time. The participation of the viewers amplifies the complexity of the experience.
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>>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.
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>>Shoptalk: Field Tools for Critical Making
The Paseo Public Prototyping Challenge and Festival, San Jose, 2017
The International Symposium on Electronic Arts (ISEA), Manizales, Colombia, 2017
Imagining America National Conference, University of California, Davis, 2017

Shoptalk: Field Tools for Critical Making is a workshop in which participants practice methods of thinking and making to promote social resiliency, art for social change, and participatory action for peace. This workshop gives participants the opportunity to collaborate and build their own field tools and explore new approaches to making. Workshop leaders start with short presentations about their own community arts practices and case study overviews. Workshop participants then have the opportunity to introduce themselves and brainstorm topics and mediums to create projects.
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>>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.
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Awards and Grants

  • 2019 Principal Investigator, National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works Grant (Grant #1854980-41-19), $20,000
  • 2019 Principal Investigator, NEA Matching Grant, Vice Chancellor, Office of Research, UC  Davis, CA, $10,000
  • 2018 Principal Investigator, Public Art Commission, Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, Sacramento, CA, $300,000
  • 2018 Principal Investigator, TechnoHumanities Studio Grant, University of California Humanities Research Institute(UCHRI) | Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (Grant #21600622), $13,000
  • 2018 Principal Investigator, DHI 2018-2019 Transdisciplinary Research and Arts Clusters Conference Grant, Davis Humanities Institute, UC Davis, $5,000
  • 2018 Principal Investigator, Hellman Family Foundation, $20,000
  • 2018 Principal Investigator, Workshop Award, Technohumanities: Exploratory Workshop Grant on Experimentation, University of California Humanities Research Institute
  • 2018 Principal Investigator, Global Affairs Seed Grant, UC Davis, $45,000
  • ​2018 Principal Investigator, UC Davis Humanities Institute Faculty Research Fellowship, One Course Release (Approximately $13,000)
  • 2018 Principal Investigator, University of California Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI) Metadata 2.0 Workshop Grant
  • 2018 Principal Investigator, Small Research Grant, UC Davis, CA, $2,000
  • 2018 Finalist Design Proposal Commission, Sacramento Convention Center Renovation Project, Art in Public Places, Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, Sacramento, CA, $4,500
  • ​2017 Travel Grant, UC Davis, CA, $800

Publications: Conference Proceedings

  • 2017 Young, Jiayi, et al. “Presently Untitled: Data Mapping of 2016 U.S. Presidential Election Twitter Activity, Phase III.”, Proceedings of the 2017 ACM on Multimedia Conference (MM ‘17). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 580-581. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3123266.3129332
  • 2017 Young, Jiayi, et al. “Presently Untitled: Data Mapping of 2016 U.S. Presidential Election Twitter Activity, Phase III.”, Artist Statement. Proceedings/Catalogue of the International Symposium on Electronic Arts (ISEA 2017) and the International Image Festival. Brighton, United Kingdom, 28
  • 2017 Young, Jiayi, et al. “Presently Untitled: Data Mapping of 2016 U.S. Presidential Election Twitter Activity, Phase III.”, Artist Talk. Proceedings/Catalogue of the International Symposium on Electronic Arts (ISEA 2017) and the International Image Festival. Brighton, United Kingdom, 134
  • 2017 Young, Jiayi, and Shih-Wen Young. “Message in the Sky: the Changing Landscape of Human Aspiration.”, Artist Talk. Proceedings/Catalogue of the International Symposium on Electronic Arts (ISEA 2017) and the International Image Festival. Brighton, United Kingdom, 133
  • 2017 Young, Jiayi, et al. “Shoptalk: Field Tools for Critical Making”, Workshop. Proceedings/Catalogue of the International Symposium on Electronic Arts (ISEA 2017) and the International Image Festival. Brighton, United Kingdom, 112
  • 2016 Young, Jiayi, and Shih-Wen Young. “Reconstruct danse macabre: Negotiating the Passage the Time.” Isea2016.scm.cityu.edu.hk. International Symposium on Electronic Art 2016, May 2016. Web. 3 Sept. 2016. 
  • 2016 Young, Jiayi, and Shih-Wen Young. “Multi-dimensional Sound Mapping of Migration Tracks of Pelagic Species.” Isea2016.scm.cityu.edu.hk. International Symposium on Electronic Art 2016, May 2016. Web. 3 Sept. 2016.

Artist Residencies

  • 2017 Resident Artist, Bruckner University, Linz, Austria
  • 2011-present Resident Artist, Verge Center for the Art, Sacramento, CA
  • 2013 City of Cologne Art and Culture Program, Cologne, Germany
  • 2007 Centre d’art Marnay Art Centre, Center for Art/science & Technology, France 

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