Kathleen Ruiz

Associate Professor of Integrated Arts, Arts

Kathleen Ruiz is a media artist who creates simulations, games, sculpture and photography. Her work explores issues about perception, behavior, interaction and the confluence of the imaginary and the real, inviting inquiry into how conceptual constructs are built and how they serve to shape ethics and power. Ruiz poses questions about the oxymoron of virtual violence, catharsis, and desensitization in simulated space. She provides us with simulated places where multiple viewpoints can be explored and expanded, while challenging us to simultaneously perceive the perspectives of the observer, the observed and the process of observation.
Ruiz is an Associate Professor of Integrated Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where she develops and teaches courses in simulation, experimental game design, photography, digital imaging, and emerging genres. She is a founding member of the ErGoGenics Game Research Group and the CapAbility Games Research Project.
Ruiz holds a Master of Arts from New York University and is a doctoral candidate (abd) at the European Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Studies where she studied with French sociologist, cultural critic, and theorist Jean Baudrillard; political philosopher and media aesthetics theorist Jean Luc Nancy; media philosopher Wolfgang Schirmacher; French film maker Chantel Ackerman; British sculptor Antony Gormley; Palestinian/Israeli filmmaker Elia Suleiman; British photographer, and critic Victor Burgin; performance artist, researcher in neurology and anthropologist of the virtual world, Sandy Stone; and German philosopher of photography Hubertus von Amelunxen; and others.
She is the recipient of the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Award, a New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Percent for Art Commission, the New York State Council on the Arts exhibition grant, the Experimental Television Center Grant, and the New York State Council on the Arts Individual Artist award. Her work was recently sponsored by Sony Computer Entertainment in Europe. Ruiz's art has been exhibited at numerous galleries and museums in the United States, Mexico, Europe, South America, and Asia and has been reviewed/published in the New York Times, Aperture, Art News, ARTI, Jornal do Brasil, The College Art Journal, The MIT Press, Reuters Video News International, Computer Graphics, Yale University Art Gallery, Wired, USA Today, arteTV, Kultur:Deutsche Welle, TeknoKultura, and others.
Current Artistic Research includes:
* The Other: an interactive 3D simulation that explores the theme of multiple perspectives through different characters, each with their own viewpoint, in a dynamic environment showing how one’s actions and decisions affect others environmentally, socially, and culturally.
* Telomere: a multimedia ballet exploring conceptions of age and agelessness in a triumph of the human spirit while the inevitable collapse of body occurs through time. “Telomere” uses the biological process of cell division as a metaphor for the life process of a prima ballerina. In an alchemic interweaving of art and science, the many aspects of aging are experienced physically, socially, psychologically, spiritually and emotionally.
* ErGoGenic Research Group: (co-founder), a trans-disciplinary team of artists, composers, cognitive scientists, medical doctors, psychologists, and game designers who are developing physical interfaces and bio-feedback to directly affect gameplay and interaction in games/simulations to encourage reaching and maintaining healthy levels of cardiovascular activity. This group is also working on games which aim to approach satiation through psycho/physio interaction.
* Capability Games and Simulation: (co-founder) an interdisciplinary group of programmers, artists, engineers, and composers who are developing interactive multimedia game simulation modules for differently abled people to help in learning basic life skills for independence through fun, repetition and engagement. Visual/auditory stimulation and memory systems are being developed in conjunction with innovative interface modalities tailored for individuals who have sustained brain injuries or who are physically and/or mentally handicapped.
* Multi-Sensory Media Art expanding beyond the eye/ear metaphor using olfaction, proprioception, EEG/EKG, and other emerging interfaces/delivery systems.
* Nanosculptures: and the interplay of macro and nano structures: The area of nanotechnology is holding potential creative territory for new kinds of artistic/scientific/philosophical/environmental/medical/ethical discourse and collaboration. Evolving preliminary ideas for nano dimension projects which consider physical phenomena and new perceptive environments emerging from nanoscale research could include fascinating super-mini objects, larger frameworks for virtual and physical three dimensional “sculptures and terrains” which would act as catalysts for opening much needed thoughtful and critical dialogues.
* Playable Art: physically and environmentally stimulating fine art sculpture and environments for touching, hearing, seeing, climbing, jumping, exploring, imagining, and cooperating for fun, enjoyment and education.
Ruiz is currently engaged with scholarly research that is centered on simulation, perspective and empathy.


Ruiz holds a Master of Arts from New York University and is a doctoral candidate (abd) at the European Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Studies in Switzerland

Research Focus
  • art and empathic simulation and visualization systems
  • expressive simulation
  • multiperspective simulation
Select Works
  • "Physically Interactive Gaming: What Appeals to Adolescent and Undergraduate Women?" by Julie G. McIntyre , Sybillyn Jennings (The Sage Colleges) and Kathleen Ruiz (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) at the Interacting with Immersive Worlds Conference in Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, June 4-5, 2007
  • "Imaginary Homelands: Reconstituted Narratives in the Digital Landscape", The Photography Quarterly, #85, Vol. 20, No.4. 2003 Published paper and curated exhibition,by Kathleen Ruiz Imaginary Homelands: Reconstituted Narratives in the Digital Landscape is an exhibition exploring the notion of "homeland" within the context of the transience, portability, and flexibility of digital media. The exhibition includes the work of a diverse group of nine artists who investigate this subject using digital media ranging from photographic and video methodologies to interactive virtual environment installations. Each artist presents a strong personal, political or psychological discourse on the preservation, reflection, exploration, and longing for a home that may or may not be actual. The works presented are created by artists from Ghana, Latvia, Israel, Malaysia, Spain, America, Brazil, and Bulgaria. The title is taken from Salman Rushdie's collection of essays and criticism of the same name - his ten-year personal and intellectual odyssey that records the politics and irony of culture, film, religious fundamentalism, racial prejudice, and the preciousness of the imagination and free expression. The common theme seen throughout the work included in the Imaginary Homelands exhibition is coping with transience, a topic that is especially relevant in our current times of displacement, globalization, and the turmoil of unresolved conflicts worldwide.
  • "Conditions of Engagement in Game Simulation: Contexts of Gender, Culture and Age", Ralph Noble,Ph.D., Kathleen Ruiz, Ph.D. abd,Marc Destefano,PhD., Jonathan Mintz Juried paper presented at the International Digital Games Research Association, "Level Up" University of Utrecht, The Netherlands, November 2003 We advocate a research approach to determining the conditions of engagement in game simulation that is a multi-disciplinary cultural and scientific inquiry at the juncture of psychological, artistic, and programming perspectives. What are the factors that cause some people to become enthralled with detail-oriented simulation game-play, while others are captivated by more abstracted, symbolic styles of play? How are the conditions of engagement influenced by gender, culture, and age? Keywords: Research methodology, psychology of engagement, intuition, decision making, gender, culture, real world psychology and game worlds, game aesthetics, game composition, logistics of perception, synthesis of factors
  • Web3D RoundUp: Looking Backwards and Forwards Vol.34 No.2 May 2000 ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics World, May, 2000, vol. 34, no.2, pgs 60-61.