Purdue Profiles: Andres Montenegro

October 27, 2015  

Andres Montenegro

Andres Montenegro, assistant professor of computer animation at IPFW, showcases his new technologies at Fort Wayne’s Science Central Museum. (IPFW photo/James Whitcraft)
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Since he was a child, Andres Montenegro has always searched for ways to express his feelings and communicate his inner world through visual art. Now assistant professor of computer animation, he has transformed his childhood passion into a career in computer animation in the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

After earning his bachelor’s and master’s degree in the arts in Chile, he earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in Digital Arts at the University of Oregon. Montenegro has spent the last five years at IPFW educating students on computer animation and conducting research on augmented reality, a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of real world.

What are your initial roles as assistant professor of computer animation?

My main role is to develop and assess all the aspects of the computer animation and modeling curriculum. I provide mentorship to undergraduate students and graduating seniors. A few other roles of my position include developing collaborations between disciplines that share computer animation as a method of visualization, coordinating the participation of students in animation competitions and research events, and developing contacts within the greater academic and professional communities related to computer animation.

How has being an independent artist helped you in your role today at IPFW?

I started my career as a painter, because painting always gave me the chance to see reality through a different perspective. The early ’90s is when I started using digital resources to enhance the interactive aspect of my traditional media, painting. I began using 3-D graphics and animation where I included digital installation and immersive environments in my production. By doing this, the viewers could become an active part of the art piece. I use painting as an inspiration for my work because that’s the main source of my research. My aesthetics are based on surrealism and metaphysical painting, a style of painting that flourished mainly between 1911 and 1920. The paintings nurture my creative research in using computer graphics and vice versa, which I am quite happy about because it is a form of finding new ways for creativity, like computer animation.

Is there any advice you always tell your students, art-related or not?

To my students, my advice is to embrace what they are doing with commitment. If they start a project, the main goal is to finish the project in the way they established to finish. I always tell them that it is very important to focus in a subject that will be realistic and that they can explore and be successful in the end. I start providing my mentorship immediately to my students to show them what resources there are to realistically integrate into their project. I encourage all my students to continue into pursuing their master’s degree or PhD because I believe it is important for them to deepen their knowledge in computer graphics. My mentorship to the students is that the world of computer animation is changing on a daily basis and it is important to stay up to date on technology and to think about it as a tool to create and deliver their dreams.

What led you to research focused on using 3-D animation for story telling?

Today, 3-D computer animation and augmented reality is pushing the boundaries of digital applications, and they are turning the user into an interface in itself. The user is integrating more of the body to interact with video games, virtual worlds, simulations, animations, etc. My research topic is focused on how a person can use their experiences to reorganize and to respond to events inside the narrative of an augmented environment. Augmented reality can be applied everywhere and there is enormous potential for development in education, art, and science. My research can be used for not only entertainment and visualization, but also educational purposes. Through my research, we have also been able to integrate this technology for persons with disabilities. My mission is to create an exciting journey through compelling graphics and an insightful narrative that anyone can enjoy, especially children.

Writer: Aspen Deno, denoa@purdue.edu 

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