Karl Baumann

Karl Baumann

Media Arts + Practice Ph.D '17

A sample of Karl Baumann's work
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As a MA+P student, what is your primary interest and how has the School of Cinematic Arts (and the Division) helped to shape that interest? My primary interest is working with local communities to envision new urban-based and mobile technologies. By working from a cinematic arts perspective, I’m able to use storytelling and world building to explore the social and emotional dimensions of emerging technologies. How might augmented reality and self-driving cars change our everyday lives? In order to answer such questions, I run community design workshops and then make short speculative films that crystalize all of our concepts into a compelling and provocative story.

What advice do you have for prospective students looking at applying for MA+P? Don’t be afraid to take chances and explore something new. Technology and its relationship to the world are changing rapidly, so the field is still somewhat open in comparison to other disciplines. You’re a bit of an academic astronaut. Embrace the exploration! What’s good about MA+P is it provides you exposure to new media technologies while also giving you solid critical thinking skills, that can be applied across professions.

How has the School of Cinematic Arts prepared you so far for a career in your discipline? The biggest things I’ve learned in SCA are lateral creative thinking and team collaboration. I’ve had the opportunity to explore a number of mediums (film, games, VR/AR) and disciplines (communication, urbanism, architecture) while at USC. This approach has taught me how to tackle complex issues from a number of different angles with a wide variety of tools. It’s also taught me how to collaborate and problem-solve with people from different backgrounds. We all speak in discipline-specific languages, so it’s crucial to pick up other terms and concepts in order to effectively communicate. Even while directing a film, it’s important to work in a variety of positions so you can speak to your team from experience.

What have been the biggest challenges for you at USC? My biggest challenge at USC is spreading myself too thin. There’s so many amazing courses, projects, and research labs happening at all times across campus. It’s important to always stay loyal to your own practice and make time for yourself. I often have to create a timeline or list of yearly milestones to ensure that I’m keeping on track.

What in your past has given you inspiration or a unique point of view that you bring to USC? I’ve moved all my life, so I’ve never had a place to call home. Born in New Jersey, I spent my childhood in Georgia and went to highschool and college in Ohio, before moving to the Bay Area. Moving taught me that culture was relative. Each area had different values, foods, and accents. I’ve since traveled and filmed around the world, from South America to Southeast Asia to Madagascar and Europe. Each trip widens my model of the world and the way people live. So, I love Los Angeles because it has everything. It’s the perfect place for me to finally call home.