Starting in 2000, my new media art practice has been collaborative under the name //benitez_vogl with new media artist Margarita Benitez (Assistant Professor of Fashion Design at Kent State University). The strengths of working collaboratively include the constant dialogue and discourse via our different perspectives and backgrounds. The breadth of experimentation and exploration through our multiple skillsets improves both the process of making art as well as the final artwork.

It is somewhat difficult to assign a percentage of participation in the collaboration as we each individually give 100% to the collaboration and projects at hand. Each project includes: Ideation, Conceptualization, Research, Pre-Production, Fundraising, Production, Publications and Exhibitions. We are individually involved in every single one of these steps. Our individual roles in the collaboration are intrinsic and fluent. We both play major roles and actively contribute to every facet of each project we undertake. While we come from different backgrounds and areas of expertise, we do have some overlapping skillsets so the individual tasks or duties are carefully evaluated and assigned on a per project basis during the pre-production as well as the production phases of creating the work. The conceptual framework for the project ultimately dictates the materials, mediums and technology used for each individual project.

New media artworks require usually lengthy production schedules and more often than not a need for funding. Via the //benitez_vogl collaboration, fundraising has been sought out by both parties and in different disciplines due to the nature of the interdisciplinary work we create. This affords an incredible advantage over individual artists as we have access to funding from 2 institutions and can leverage funds to match.

For example in in our last project {skin}d.e.e.p. (digital epidermal ephemeral patterns), we were interested in creating ephemeral imprints on skin. Our research indicated that mimicking snake skin showed the most promising approach. In order to leave skin imprints we needed to have a hard outer shell that could be form fitted. We decided to achieve this with 3D printed cast like shells. Sine we did not have a large tool for this at our disposal, grant writing commenced and we received funding through the University’s Biomimicry Research and Innovation Center (collaboratively) and a Summer Fellowship.

Without this collaborative funding the work would have not been able to be realized. Production ensued and we were able to produce a completely new body of work, culminating in skin d.e.e.p. exhibition.

During production I also extend the experience of creating the work to the classroom, as I had two independent study studio assistants (Katherine Schultz and Melissa Kreider) that worked closely with Margarita and myself and participated in all phases of production.

For another example, in our technically most complex project, S.A.R.A., synesthetic augmented reality
application, we initially funded the work through an interdisciplinary art grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, to even further extend our collaboration.
The work also extended into the classroom as the grant funded a graduate assistant from Computer Science to work with us to code the app. A second round of collaborative funding (KSU, UA, ingenuity Cleveland) allowed us to further the project and collaborate with dance at KSU (Kimberly Karpanty) and 2 fashion design students to use the app in performances and to create hand tailored costumes to be used during these performances. The app is available for download in the Apple App Store, and we performed with the app 28 times in 7 venues, presented the work at conferences nationally (South by SouthWest, International Symposium on Wearable computing) and internationally (Shapeshifting New Zealand), ultimately winning the Best Aesthetics Design Award for Wearable design at ISWC. (International Symposium on Wearable Computing)

See the results of the {skin}d.e.e.p. exhibitions here.