Cyril W. Chen (they/them, any)
is an animation filmmaker and interdisciplinary artist
based in Treaty 4 Territory (Saskatchewan).

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UKAI Projects, Prototyping Residency (Summer 2020)
is a residency that ‘brings together performing arts organizations drawing on non-Western or hybrid forms with artistic and technical support in order to create work that allows for under-represented communities to better see themselves during this period of isolation brought about by COVID-19’  (

I worked on this prototyping residency with Atina Chung & Njo Kong Kie.
The final result is on:

UKAI Projects - Prototyper Toolkit Q&A

Cyril Chen - October 29, 2020

honoured : values, integrity

(a) how were your values honored through the process?/ (p) how did you honor the artist’s values?

Setting time/work boundaries: understanding the time required to achieve a certain milestone of a project, understanding how to mitigate “busy work” in order to get to the core values/reasons for a project’s existence. My co-prototyper, Atina, helped steer our project in such a way that honoured everyone’s values, in time commitment, delivery of the messages of Kongkie’s practice, and goals of the project. We ended up creating a dreamy/whimsical/humourous web prototype that showcased Kongkie’s works as a composer-performer.

feelings : time

(a) (p) what did you feel as the creation evolved?

Throughout the month of July, my schedule was at a standstill, and ever since February my outlook of the world was becoming more cynical. Working on this project, which was a dreamy web prototype of KongKie’s artist portfolio, has helped ground myself, and essentially gave me a bit more hope about the future of work and collaboration. I felt sometimes that I rushed to get a certain quota or number of elements/animations/graphics for the deadlines that we have set for eachother. It’s a tricky in-between state of work, when acknowledging the harm that capitalism/business-driven work has implemented every mode of thinking for us, while trying to also dismantle these systems.

shifting perspective : process

(a) (p) in as much detail as possible, describe the process during the residency:

what tools and work methods did use? which apps or approaches did you implement?

how did you document? where is the final result?

I was the digital prototyping artist, Atina Chung was the prototyping developper, and Njo Kong Kie was the artist who we were creating a prototype for. We had several video/voice calls, and interchanged messages throughout the month to keep on track and maintain communication.

I started off sketching how I would envision the text interfaces to possibly look like for KongKie’s website, and created a motion graphic sketch here: And received positive feedback from our team members, and we envisioned some more after. We started brainstorming and thinking about how we’ll incorporate everyone’s skills and sensibilities to create this project.

I used photoshop, an intuos tablet, adobe dimension, and scanned various found objects. I created simple black and white graphics that would be animated on the web page by Atina, and various layouts, and animation using the materials that I gathered, compiling them all using photoshop layers and photoshop timeline. With the digitally drawn grass animations, I created using an animation program called ToonBoom Harmony Pro, which is given and taught to me as a student at Sheridan College. I documented this by saving all of the files within my laptop in a way that made sense to me, which I have emailed via google drive. I also wrote a lot of sketchy, sometimes illegible notes, which i decided not to share, because they are hard to read, and also because I personally use note-taking as a way for overall cognition/long term knowledge-storing, and honestly, the notes sometimes don’t make sense to me.  

creation : translation

the prototyping process translated the artist’s original art form to exist online in a way that is healthy now

(a) how did you translate yourself?  / (p) how did you translate the artist’s practice into an internet form?

I used the forms which I have always found easiest to translate myself: drawing and animation. I think these visual forms, especially drawing, is a direct link to the soul. In our meetings, I described my methods via an analog lens, as the specs of adobe and digital programs may not be well understood by those who aren’t acquainted with digital media softwares. As describing layers to KongKie, I described them as pages of a book, or looking through a light table. As describing the discord interface as well to KongKie, I compared it to an older messaging platform like aol or msn.

unknown experience : output

(a) your message to put others at ease if they undergo a similar process /

(p) your message to encourage artists to undergo a similar process

Projects such as these can help you realize how much you can achieve, with people you may have never worked with, and with the time constraints involved. Once you are complete, you will be so much more empowered to tackle another project, whatever it may be, knowing that you have achieved so much already. The ways in which you are supported by UKAI Projects, or similar incubators/non-profits, will give you the encouragement you need to face the uncertainties of such work. It can help invigorate your work, as long as you maintain the boundaries that you need throughout these processes.


// Digital Prototyper Residency @ MIGRATION // UKAI Projects // // - 2020

Work I created as a User Experience Design student at the University of Waterloo, under the Global Business and Digital Arts Program:

// Project: Better - QHacks Best Design Award - UX/UI Designer - Queen's University - - - Kingston, ON - 2018

// Stratford Campus UXPerience Design Camp - Project: Beyond Innovation - University of Waterloo - - - Stratford, ON - 2016

Copyright ©2022 artist Cyril W. Chen