Kathleen Ruiz

Associate Professor of Integrated Arts, Arts

Kathleen Ruiz is a media artist who creates simulations, games, installations, 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.

“It is amazing to see the world from multiple viewpoints, or to experience a place or a space from a different trajectory, or to look at a simple object in different ways, or to discover a ‘new’ world through a telescope, a microscope, or other instrument. Perhaps even more exciting is the attempt to approach a deeper understanding of another person’s outlook and how they came to that particular understanding,” Ruiz said. “I create art with simulation technology, sculpture and photography where one’s own perspective can be expanded to simultaneously perceive perspectives of the observer, the observed and the process of observation.”

Her recent projects include:

Flo: The Watershed Project: a continuation of her artistic research in using simulation technology to explore first person experience, intentionality, and empathy. "Flo" offers a rare opportunity to create a unique bridge between the digital and natural worlds and uses art and science to create a deep awareness of the delicate balance of the environment. Here one experiences what it may be like to "be" water. Using a custom designed physical interface to an interactive 3dimensional simulation that traces the formation of water as rain and then onwards thorough streams, reservoirs and aqueducts to become drinking water. Not only an artwork, this project has educational components in the form of field experiments and mini-games that address flooding, climate change, water pollution, sustainability, and ecofriendly practices. This project brings together unique alliance of scientists, environmental educators, university students and middle school students from upstate and from the South Bronx.

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.

Ruiz 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 and awarded a grant by the Department of Environmental Protection.

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 by Merrell, Thames and Hudson, and others.

She is committed to using simulation technology to expand awareness of the human condition and has created research groups and projects in the following areas: CapAbility Games: simulation for differently abled individuals; ErGoGenic Games: for health; and Envirogames: games that engage art and science in interactive educational game modules played digitally in conjunction with physical and field science experiments.


Doctoral candidate (abd), European Graduate School for Interdisciplinary Studies EGS

M.A., New York University

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.