Inside SCI-Arc


04.04.12 | SCI-Arc Lecture Series, W.M. Keck Lecture Hall
Alex McDowell: Building Worlds – Terraforming the Narrative Space

Wednesday, April 4, 7pm
W. M. Keck Lecture Hall

Intro by Florencia Pita

Alex McDowell is one of the most innovative and influential designers working in narrative media, with the impact of his ideas extending far beyond his background in cinema. McDowell advocates an immersive design process that acknowledges the key role of world-building in visual storytelling.

In McDowell's own words: "This discussion will suggest a radical and transformative approach to designing space, allowing us to create and collaborate virtually and intuitively, and to sculpt new visual narratives as we imagine unbounded worlds. Our experience of narrative media is changing rapidly as traditional storytelling disciplines expand and merge. A new breed of ‘maker’ is emerging who freely traverses the traditional silos of storytelling; creating worlds across media and across culture."

Since moving to LA from London in 1986, McDowell has designed for a diversity of directors including Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton, David Fincher, Zack Snyder and Steven Spielberg. Currently McDowell is production designer for a new Disney cross-media project, Order of the Seven. He recently completed Man of Steel with director Zack Snyder, produced by Chris Nolan.

With many awards for his film design work, McDowell was named a Royal Designer by the UK’s Royal Society of Arts in 2006.

McDowell currently serves on the AMPAS SciTech Council. He is adjunct professor at the School of Cinematic Arts, USC, and is Visiting Artist at MIT’s Media Lab, where he collaborated with composer Tod Machover on the robot opera Death and the Powers. He continues to work as a visual consultant, focused on the reframing of the designer’s role in the future of storytelling - building worlds as containers of narrative, and machines of the imagination.

McDowell is co-founder and creative director of the 5D | Institute, curating a global series of distributed events and an education space for an expanding community of thought leaders across narrative media.