A volume of poetry, a film camera, a smart phone and an iPad are artfully arranged against a wooden backdrop that is scattered with fall leaves
Welcome to my research and design portfolio. If you like what you see, or if you're curious about what I do, please don't hesitate to get in touch. In the meantime, thanks for dropping by, and I hope you enjoy my work.
The Artful Astronomy of L.M. Montgomery began as a chapter in my Ph.D. dissertation on Canadian literature and light pollution, and has since grown into an interactive display that blends print and web media in order to create an engaging user experience. The project as a whole is emblematic of my approach to the public Humanities, as it combines photography, writing, research, animation, and design in order to produce a responsive display that is interdisciplinary, both in content and in form.
One of my favourite parts of this project has been coming up with visuals to help tell the story. I did most of the work in Photoshop, where I was able to create many of the celestial objects, both real and imagined, that Montgomery mentions in her writing. After Effects came in handy, too, as having the ability to export animations as image sequences made the display all the more interactive.
In Montgomery’s writing, comets are potent reminders of youth and desirability that fortify the spirit and that awaken the self to new possibility. Given her investment in these celestial visitors, it was important that I capture visually the sense of vitality that Montgomery saw in them. I wanted my comets to appear as photorealistic as possible, entirely because Montgomery was an ardent student of astronomy, and, as such, would have known what comets look like. 
At the same time, I wanted to ensure that my comets were the vibrant symbols of freedom that Montgomery had in mind, and so I accentuated their comas and nuclei with colours that dramatize their flight paths through space.
In the winter of 1925, Montgomery reports in her journal that she read “a delightful book of astronomy by Camille Flammarion.” The French author's description of “a world lighted by colored suns,” in particular, appears to have resonated with her, and so I wanted to depict this enchanted scene. 
I started by taking a photograph of a beech tree, which I then used to create the surface of Flammarion's world. Textures like these are invaluable for creating realistic representations of what are otherwise imaginary realms. From there, it was just a matter of adding a series of adjustment layers in Photoshop until the planet appeared both believable and alien at once.
Were Montgomery living today, it’s hard to imagine her not experimenting with astrophotography. The nocturnal scene below was inspired by "Other Island People," a silhouette that Montgomery took of  beach goers holding parasols near the water's edge.
I was curious what Montgomery's photograph might look like at night, so I headed to the North Shore in hopes of recruiting a few volunteers. James Mitchell and Nicole Kaminski, who together run The Lookout Inn, happened to be at the beach and were kind enough to pose for this picture. The sky above them is the result of stacking and offsetting eighteen long exposures in order to create a swirling starfield. ​​​​​​​

Star Shower, Cavendish, Prince Edward Island National Park

One of the most challenging aspects of this project was coming up with a table of contents to organize the material. I didn't want readers to feel as though they had to move mechanically through the chapters, so instead I took a non-linear approach to the layout by presenting a scene in which the constellations, once tapped, produced chapter previews at the bottom of the screen. 
While I felt as though this version of the TOC was visually appealing, the concept itself didn't really work: users kept cycling through the various constellations as though they were the point of the project. Only rarely did they click the "Read More" button that led to the individual chapters, which meant that the design wasn't serving its purpose. 
What I came up with instead was a series of orbs that take the reader directly to individual chapters. This lay out is simple and clean, and it manages, I think, the same non-hierarchical​​​​​​​ structure that makes a lengthy project like this one seem less daunting at the outset. 
My hope is that this type of landing page will ultimately result in higher levels of engagement. After all, if readers feel as though they can choose their own path through the material, based on their own areas of interest, they are perhaps more likely to have the kind of positive reading experience that leads them to the explore the topic further. 
I still have two more chapters to write for this project, but I've been pleased with how it's developed so far. Creating the visuals gave me the energy I needed to refine the writing and to continue my research. As an added bonus, I think my astrophotography has improved, as I had good cause to spend my more than a few nights with my trusty Fuji XT1 under the stars.

There's still a lot to do before the official launch date, but I'm confident that the app is going to come together well. In the meantime, the interactive display is set to make its third public appearance, this time at a fall stargazing event in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island.

Green Gables Heritage Place, Cavendish, Prince Edward Island

Justin Putney at Ajar Productions was good enough to put together this short video of the project, which provides a great overview of the kinds of things that I'm trying to accomplish.
Here's a list of past projects, preoccupations, and curiosities that have kept me busy over the last little while. If you have any questions about them, please do drop me a note.
Canadian Poetry on Film is a new research project that examines film and video adaptations of Canadian Poems from 1961 to the present. What motivates the creation of these adaptations? How do they affect the interpretation of the original text? Do some poems better lend themselves to adaptation? If so, why? 
Prompted by these questions, I'm in the process of creating an online repository of film and video adaptations at poetryonfilm.ca. The site is still new, but I'll be adding more content in the weeks ahead.
Helping students choose their courses is always a challenge, especially when they belong to a program with multiple streams. I put together this one-pager for a recent academic advising day, and everyone seemed to appreciate it.  
I should say that I would usually use scrollable frames to make pull-out drawers, but since this document was destined for a desktop, I just animated the drawers instead.
Here's a poster I put together for the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education's Conference in Halifax. I enjoyed the session and got some stellar feedback. You can read more about it on STLHE's website. 
There's no shortage of good things happening at UPEI these days, not the least of which is the new Applied Communication, Leadership and Culture Program offered by the Faculty of the Arts. Check out their website or send me a note if you'd like to learn more.
The series of letters bubble out of a cartoon test tube. This is the logo for the Canadian Poetry Lab: Experiments in Creative Reading, Writing, and Thinking
The Canadian Poetry Lab was a microsite that I put together for an undergraduate class on Canadian poetry. Over the course of the semester, I asked my students to react creatively, personally, and intellectually to a selection of Canadian poems. ​​​​​​​They then published their projects online in our class journal, Field Work: Creative Responses to Canadian Poems.
Sadly, the site itself has since gone fallow, as so many websites eventually do, but a few of my students' individual projects are still available here and here
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