Efe Kabba '13 has been selected as one of 40 college seniors nationally to be awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship for 2013-2014. The Watson Fellowship provides a $25,000 grant for one year of independent exploration and travel outside the United States. Kabba, a media studies major, plans to travel to Montreal, Copenhagen, Tokyo, Berlin and Singapore to study "Musical Swings and Other Digital Landscapes and Experiences."
"I'm exploring how interactive digital technologies are moving away from the traditional model of screened objects (i.e., computers, mobile devices) and towards a model where these technologies are effortlessly integrated into the rest of our physical world," says Kabba. "I'm primarily concerned with how interactive digital technologies are transforming the physical spaces we live in and how that transformation is changing how we perceive ourselves, our relationship to the world and other human beings."
She chose her travel destinations based on their rich, diverse design histories, as well as their current status as cutting-edge interactive design locales. She hopes to work with artist collectives, design studios and research institutions involved with these digital environments and experiences. "I'll either observe projects or have a more hands-on role where I am directly involved in the creation process. I'm also going to visit and experience temporary and permanent sites for myself and hopefully talk to people around me who are experiencing the same site."
Kabba credits two classes with pushing her in this research direction. Associate Professor of Art Mark Allen's Digital Design class helped solidify her interest in design, and a Harvey Mudd College class called Art, Science and Technology helped her explore the intersections of those disciplines, which are the foundations of her Watson project.
Currently, Kabba is interning at the creative interactive agency JESS3, and has been a Media Studies Department liaison for two years. She's been involved with theater at Pomona, acting in Marat/Sade and The Colored Museum, and was in the Pomona College Choir. Last summer, she did a Summer Undergraduate Research Project in Nigeria about independent guerrilla journalism in that country in the late ‘80s and ‘90s when several military dictatorships were in control.
Kabba was born in Abuja, Nigeria, and was raised from age five in New York City. Her parents are Alex and Inara Kabba.