Paul Hoppe arrived at ArtCenter in 2009 from Azusa Pacific University, where he double-majored in fine art and graphic design. He came to the College to focus intensely on graphic design, but the more time he spent in the classroom, the more he found himself returning to his media-based installation roots.
And it paid off. In late 2011, he won an Adobe Design Achievement Award for Exploratorium: Generative Identity, an algorithmically generated typographical identity he created for San Francisco’s Exploratorium museum as a project in instructor Brad Bartlett’s Type 4 class.
One year later in instructor Miles Mazzie’s MediaTecture course, Hoppe accesses a visual database using an interface that looks like it was beamed down from the starship Enterprise.
As he moves a red resin triangular prism atop a table, he activates different chapters on the rise and fall of a popular turn-of-the-century Pasadena tourist attraction atop Echo Mountain, which came to be known as the “White City.” Destroyed by a series of fires, the resort comes back to life through sounds and via projections on the table and on an upside-down papier-mâché mountain suspended above the table.
Echo Mountain, just six miles from ArtCenter’s Hillside Campus, and the scenic mountain railway line that took visitors there were the brainchild of Thaddeus S.C. Lowe, a self-made scientist, inventor and Civil War aeronaut turned millionaire entrepreneur.
“Lowe put his life, fortune and everything into this project, but now all that exists are the ruins,” says Hoppe. “I wanted to draw a correlation between the remaining artifacts and the history of the place, as well as explore how memory works, both historically and neurologically.”
Hoppe imagined this installation—ECHO: The Fragility of Moments Suspended in Time, which he co-developed in Bartlett’s Advanced Graphic Studio course—as the centerpiece of an exhibition co-presented by the Pasadena Museum of History and the UCLA Department of Neurology.
And while scanning historical images for his project, a glitch affirmed he was on the right track. “One of the scanners at the library had a loose connection, and was creating weird distorted versions of the images,” he says. “And then it clicked. I thought, Oh, that’s how our brain works!”
Hoppe went on to become a finalist for the 2013 Adobe Design Achievement Awards (ADAA)—an impressive feat considering only 30 students out of a total pool of 3,752 submissions from around the world made it that far—in the category of Installation Design for ECHO.
Immediately after graduating this past spring, Hoppe became a teaching assistant for instructor Bartlett’s Typography 5: Transmedia and Advanced Graphic Studio: Transmedia courses.
He spent the Summer 2013 term at South Campus, helping two dozen students with their projects in which they dived deep into their personal interests to rebrand cultural institutions and create complementary interactive installations.
What would Hoppe tell incoming students about the ArtCenter experience?
“If you’re ready to put in the commitment and the time and work really hard, amazing things can come of it,” he says.
Today, Hoppe works as an art director at Local Projects in New York City, where he specializes in interactive exhibition design for museums, educational institutions, and adventurous corporate clients.