Alumnae, Students Behind IDEAS Performance in Qualcomm Institute

San Diego, March 20, 2017 — Graduate students at the University of California San Diego will stage an original work and performance on Thursday, March 23, in the Qualcomm Institute on the university campus. Their interdisciplinary work, “The Burden of Selfhood”, will explore the themes of feminism, identity and technology.

Faces from makeup videos appear on the Vroom display wall in Calit2 Theater as part of the performance "The Burden of Selfhood"

The performance is the third event in the institute’s 2016-2017 season of its performance series, the Initiative for Digital Exploration of Arts and Sciences (IDEAS). It takes place from 5pm to 7pm on Thursday, March 23 in the Calit2 Theater on the ground floor of Atkinson Hall, the institute’s headquarters building at UC San Diego.

The event is open to the public and free of charge. Anyone planning to attend is invited to RSVP to Trish Stone at

By using interactive technology and research from cognitive science, music, poetry, video and performance art, “The Burden of Selfhood” will investigate the experience of viewing and being viewed as a gendered body.

"Technology has accelerated the recursive gaze to the point that we continually perform and project back onto each other our internalized expectations for unattainable perfection," said artist Stefani Byrd, an MFA alumna in Visual Arts who is also a lecturer in the department's ICAM major. "This poly-vocal performance will use large-scale data visualizations and live performers to make explicit both the collective gaze and the implicit impact of being seen."

Heat maps projected onto bodies featured in "The Burden of Selfhood"

Using gaze-tracking technology, the first part of the live performance will implicate the view of the audience by revealing where their attention is focused on the body of the performer as the piece unfolds. This data will be used to create a 'heat map' that is then projected onto the performer's body.

In Act Two, the artists use projection mapping to display alternative faces onto the performer's face, turning it into a "malleable surface that we can transform to visualize ideas around reconstructing identity," said Sara Ciston, MFA candidate in Writing at UC San Diego, who also worked on the piece.

Cognitive Science Ph.D. student Amy Rae Fox conducted language-based content analysis of user-generated makeup tutorial videos as a prelude to projecting new faces on the performer. Other artists involved in The Burden of Selfhood include composer Fernanda Navarro, a Ph.D. student in the Music department, and UC San Diego MFA alumna Heidi Kayser, an interdisciplinary artist.

Following are short bios of the students and alumna behind the original work:

Now in its fourth season, the Qualcomm Institute's primary performance series, IDEAS, features nine works that cross disciplinary boundaries at the intersection of art and technology. The performances and artist residencies were awarded after a peer-review competition open to faculty and graduate students in Music, Theatre and Dance, as well as Visual Arts and engineering disciplines.

Related Links

Initiative for Digital Exploration of Arts and Sciences

Media Contacts

Doug Ramsey, (858) 822-5825,