Student Spotlight: Vivian Chuang

Submitted by Yuko Mera on

Major: Cinema & Media Studies and Interdisciplinary Visual Arts
Class of 2020
Hometown: Kirkland, WA
Favorite Film: Videodrome

When did you know that you wanted to major in CMS?

I’m a transfer from UW Bothell. There, I took an intro-to-film class during my freshman year. I remember watching Bicycle Thieves for the first time, which blew my mind. Since then, I never looked back. Growing up, I liked weird movies, armchair film theory, and digging around for mysterious VHS tapes, but I hadn’t considered being a CMS major before then. I guess I didn’t know until I started taking classes, but when I did, the major made perfect sense.

What do you like most about the program?

I find it pretty surreal that we have access to the faculty that we do - I’ve read essays that I didn’t realize were projects by the professors here until I had them for classes myself. That, and some of the other majors who have become some of my closest friends. We make movies together and they even trust me enough to handle the art direction. 

As a double major of CMS and Interdisciplinary Visual Arts, how do you see the two majors relating with one another?

I would say the arts are already intertwined with media such as cinema as well as the study of it. Random examples off the top of my head; Saul Bass’ influential graphic designs for Alfred Hitchcock, or even earlier, Eadward Muybridge’s The Horse in Motion choronophotography series. So, they’re definitely related in a general context, but being able to study both at once is really exciting to me. They’re equally important to me and I honestly treat them like one big goal I’m working towards rather than separate degrees.

You have been working on creating a new RSO, The Atrocity Exhibition. Can you tell us more about that?

The Atrocity Exhibition (we call it ÆX) is a film and media forum that meets every Monday 6-8 at MEB 237 (currently on hiatus this spring quarter). We are a film and philosophy club that focuses on bringing theory and discussion into low-stakes screenings open to anyone. We have a couple of themed screenings in the works such as y2k paranoia, occult on film, and early aughts box office bombs - our programming is a very diverse bag of art house movies, popcorn classics, and cult titles. 

The idea is to make it as open and accessible as possible, and by next quarter we hope to have programming created by collaborating with both faculty and student-members. So, if you like weird movies, media theory, and want to talk about it or just hang out, come and join us! There’s no pressure to read anything beforehand and anyone can participate in the discussions. 

Do you have any plans for after graduation?

Right now, I’m trying to decide between grad school or a gap year. Either way, I plan to continue to pursue the arts and media scholarship in tandem. Recently, I’ve been getting involved on small film sets as a crew member and working on my friends’ projects in art department positions, and hopefully I’ll also continue to do that as a side job.

Advice for new CMS majors?

Finding my niche was very personally fulfilling. There’s so much you can choose to study within the field! And after I developed a foundation of film theory, I began my journey of finding what it was I wanted to focus on. I narrowed it down from horror movies, science fiction and psychological thrillers to a general media concentration on information and body horror in a post-digital age. For me, it took the entire time I’ve been here to figure out what I wanted to focus on, but that’s fine. Take your time and discover what interests you. That’s what matters.