Ker Chen

  • Immersive Experience Designer / XR&3D Artist



Ker Chen’s academic and career paths have been far from linear. After all, it seems like an enormous leap from earning an undergraduate degree in Economy Management for Agriculture and Forestry from Beijing Forestry University to forging a thriving career as a 3D artist and extended-reality (XR) developer in New York City. 

That massive leap was made possible, in part, by the Integrated Design & Media (IDM) program at NYU Tandon.

After earning their bachelor’s degree, Chen began working in the corporate world as an event planner and copy writer but felt discontented — professionally and from a geographic standpoint. “I wanted to be more creative, and I wanted to be in New York City,” they say. 

Their instinct that IDM could be the answer, proved to be correct. “I immediately felt at home, and a video I created using 3D animation and motion capture felt like the first truly personal project I had ever done,” they explain.

While at Tandon Chen developed mastery in a lengthy list of programs and technologies, including Unreal Engine, Spark AR, Cinema 4D, Adobe Premiere & After Effects, Touch Designer, Arduino, MadMapper, and Figma, to name just a handful, and was hired by IDM as a motion capture technician and production assistant. 

Meanwhile, they were also working on their own projects, including a 10-minute immersive film called “Hunting” that served as their graduate thesis. “Growing up in a small town in southwest China and a multi-religious family, as the first-generation college student in my family and the first person leaving the family, I felt the weight of cultural and familial expectations as I navigated my own path,” they say, describing the impetus for the film. “Through my journey of hunting, I seek to understand and embrace my own desires while also grappling with guilt and questions of group identity. ‘Hunting’ weaves elements of traditional myths creating a narrative that reflects my own experiences. ‘Hunting’ is a deeply personal project that invites viewers to reflect on their own journeys of self-discovery and the complex interplay between identity, desire, and spirituality.

During their senior year, Chen got involved with ONX Studio, a platform dedicated to new media art, digital culture, and immersive art experiences. “I would not have had that opportunity if it hadn’t been for IDM,” they recall, “and that experience, and the contacts I made while studying at Tandon, have been instrumental in my ability to earn a living as a freelancer in New York City.”

Now, they spend much of their workday using their technical skills to help other artists realize their own visions; among recent projects have been an infinitely changing computer-generated animation done in collaboration with artist Miriam Simun. Called “Contact Zone Level 1,” the project features imaged creatures generated by computer models, conjured by text-to-image AI algorithms, and captured by automated camera traps in the forest.

And as creative and visionary as they are, it is more than they ever dreamed of, they say, back when they were writing copy and planning events in Beijing.