Zachary Horton

  • Assistant Professor

Zachary Horton is a media, literary, and game studies scholar, as well as a filmmaker, camera designer, and game designer.

Zach's academic research primarily focuses on the relationship between scale, ecology, and technological mediation.  His first book is The Cosmic Zoom: Scale, Knowledge, and Mediation from the University of Chicago Press (2021).  His current research focuses on the early history of video games, tabletop games, and climate mediation.

He has a PhD in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara, an MFA in Film Directing from the American Film Institute Conservatory, studied Philosophy and Creative Writing at Oxford University, and earned his BA in both Media Arts and Philosophy at the University of California, San Diego. He was the 2002 recipient of the national Cary Grant Film Award for his film work.  In 2009 he completed his “Disaster Trilogy,” three feature-length films that examine middle-class American culture during the first years of the new millennium.  From 2010 to 2014 he directed Swerve, a ten-chapter, serialized science fiction epic that explores the nature of embodiment, virtuality, contamination and/of the natural, nanotechnology, and posthuman identity.  The film, which runs over three and a half hours, was a collaboration between professional filmmakers and actors, graduate students, undergraduate students, and faculty at UCSB.

Zach invented and continues to develop the Mercury Camera System, the world's first completely modular, universal photography system. He also runs Pandora Games, focusing on exploring new forms of interaction through the development of innovative tabletop games.

At Pitt, Zach directs the Vibrant Media Lab and teaches courses in Critical Making, Game Studies, virtual reality, media and environment, and media theory.