Judson-Morrissey 2022 Fellow: Diana Rojas-Ponce

Diana Rojas is an interdisciplinary artist whose research explores human attempts and desires to engage
with the invisible and hidden through installation, video, sound, and sculpture. Informed by her interests in philosophy, history, physics, and material science, she approaches the role of technology in art making as the catalyst for larger conversations of existence, consciousness, and metaphysics. Her work, which exists physically and virtually, has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Diana was born in Mexico and currently studies, and teaches at the University of North Texas, where she is a graduate student in New Media Art.

Diana was a recipient of a 2022 Judson-Morrissey Excellence in New Media Award.

Tell us a little about your background and your trajectory as an artist and/or scholar.

I grew up in south Florida and moved around to different states in my teen years. I decided to begin a degree in psychology for practical purposes, but soon found it more fulfilling to pursue a career in the arts. Towards the culmination of my BFA, I began working with musicians in the College of Music collaboratively which allowed me to further explore and consider interdisciplinary collaboration as an important research method in my artistic practice. However, this new avenue of research coincided with the culmination of my degree and in order to better utilize the multitude of perspectives and opportunities at UNT, I decided to continue my education here within the university’s MFA program in order to preserve the momentum I had begun to create.

Networking between the College of Art and College of Music allowed the unique opportunities to collaborate with an untapped well of musicians, artists, and professionals who encouraged me to collaborate with professionals in other fields to form a broader interdisciplinary approach to my practice. I began this new avenue of research through courses in Philosophy centered around science and religion, an important conceptual foundation my work had already begun to build upon. The resources offered through readings, historical and contemporary scholars, and new methods of intellectualizing my work led me to specifically land on exploring concepts of the sublime. This spurred more outreach in fields such as philosophy, art education, physics, and material science and these conversations led me to initiatives focused on research groups focused on data science. All of these experiences and conversations have influenced my perceived purpose of art which I believe to be an influential medium which functions as a bridge to translate information and theories to a broader audience. In the future, I plan to further this manner of research and further focus on exploring visualization methods and the context around their applications and histories.

What are some of your main influences?

I am constantly influenced by what I’m reading which can be anything from books on theoretical Physics,
Philosophy, History and Theology written by Jason Josephson Storm, Carlo Rovelli and A.W. Tozer.
Visually, I look at works by James Turrell, Olafur Eliasson, Neri Oxman, Anicka Yi and Sondra Perry. While I’m making my own work, I like listening to “Voyage that Never Ends” by Stefano Scodanibbio- it puts me in just the right headspace!

New Media is …….

New Media is grounds for opportunity. The vast range of topics, processes and tools that new media
addresses gives artists in this field a lot of opportunities to work in interdisciplinary ways or to tackle topics that fall far outside of the realm of visual art. The fluidity that new media artists can have is really unique.

What are you working on now?

I am currently working on my thesis show for my MFA! I’ve been doing research on observatories and
thinking about ways to engage architecture for a large-scale installation.

Do you have a collaborative idea that you want to get off the ground?

I’d like to build off the work that I’ve done for the planetarium on campus and start to explore
unconventional exhibition spaces. As I’m thinking about my MFA research and the tools and spaces that
humanity has built for exploration, I like to imagine making work for a light house or observatories for the
cosmos. I’d also like to build off of some relationships that I’ve made on campus and engage with more
material scientists to produce experimental materials that can be used as screens.

What is the most recent thing you’ve learned?

I wouldn’t say that I’ve completely learned this, but I’ve started learning Python! The potential to integrate
coding into my practice in a more meaningful way is definitely on my “to-do” list before I leave grad school.