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California Text + Terrain: Visualizing Ideology and Environment

Project Details

Project Year: 2021-2022

Project Type: Collaboratory


Erik Loyer,


Allan Josiah Bexton,
Landin Green,
Cameron Roper,
Sophie Shack,
Kevin Yin,

Special Guests

Ayana Jamieson,
Lynell George,

The Collaboratory


“Words are things, I’m convinced… Someday we’ll be able to measure the power of words. I think they are things. I think they get on the walls, they get in your wallpaper, they get in your rugs, in your upholstery, in your clothes. And, finally, into you.” - Maya Angelou


Students in this Collaboratory designed an immersive digital experience that illustrates the power of words and ideology on California’s social and environmental future. The digital experience was showcased as part of USC Libraries' Visions & Voices event, California Dystopia: Understanding Climate Change and Social Collapse through Science Fiction.

The Outcomes 

Terraforming Mars Collaboratory
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For this project, students will worked with Ahmanson Lab staff, creative technologist, Erik Loyer, and Octavia Butler scholars, Lynell George and Ayana Jamieson, and use Loyer’s Text + Terrain Toolkit, a new framework for building poetic visualizations from words. They helped create an immersive 3D setting that turns the subtext of Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower into literal text that has the power to shape the natural and built environment.


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