Artist Ziv Schneider was perusing the Teachers College archives when she came across a course titled "Household Arts for Students from Other Lands." The class was offered for one year only, in 1923, and employed the use of "practice cottages" to teach homemaking. A recent arrival to America herself, Schneider decided to explore the curriculum through her medium of choice: Augmented Reality.

Schneider developed an original AR game sharing the course's title, in which her own avatar guides players through a simulated home environment as she performs household tasks. Each action is accompanied by a narration from the original course material, revealing the historical context of the piece. "Some of the lessons should come with a warning," Schneider says of the more outdated advice. "One example is putting your child next to an open window when it’s cold outside." This practice was thought to have aided in digestion and sleep quality.

In addition to the parallels the artist draws between the subject matter and her own life, Schneider is interested in the broader narrative the game reveals about American history. "There was a concern over people owning less homes," Schneider says of the post-war, pre-Depression era, "A risk to that was a risk to the American Dream." Schneider's interactive game was available in the Spring of 2018 in the Gottesman Libraries at Teachers College and it enabled players to complete her iteration of the Household Arts course while immersing themselves in a piece of early 20th century American history.

Excerpts from the discussion

@1:38 Sushmita Saha: It's great how the artist's personal life influences her art.

@2:12 Janne Ebel: Fascinating to hear about the Zeitgeist and "Better homes in America" movement in relation to the origin of the class.

@3:50 Luke Malone: Taking a course curriculum to create a game out of your own medium is a terrific deep dive into learning the subject inside and out.