New Courses in Digital Media

Feature Article »
By Scott Meador, Associate Professor of Art, Digital »

3D Animation, Time-Based Media, Interactivity, and Emergent Art are four new courses that are expanding the technology-oriented course options in the Art and Design curriculum. They are a fine arts-oriented approach to 2D and 3D animation, video art, and new media installation. The courses offer a broad perspective of the digital art landscape, which allows students to discover and explore various aspects and uses of computer graphics in fine art. The courses may be taken as a Category A studio (3D Animation), Category B studio (Time-Based Media), the new Category C (any of the four), BA electives, and/or the BFA technology-oriented requirement. They are currently offered as 3V92 Special Topics in Studio Art, but will have permanent course numbers in the fall 2021 semester. Two of the four will be offered each fall and spring semesters.

3D Animation (level I studio) covers the process of producing visual art that starts in a virtual three-dimensional space. Being highly process-oriented, students learn to create models and then develop materials to control their color and how they react to light, rig them to control how they move, animate them, and then render them into a deliverable medium. Rendering can be creating a video, a 3D printable model, or moving the models into a game engine to interact with them in real time.

Time-Based Media (level I studio) introduces students to traditional 2D animation, computer-based 2D animation, motion graphics, and video. Students develop 2D video media projects using motion graphics techniques, video art techniques, and they have a choice from several traditional or computer-based animation techniques to develop their final project.

Interactivity (level II studio) combines digital media with the physical world through the exploration of physical computing for time-based (4D), technology-driven, and interactive works. Students will learn to use microcontrollers, light, sound, projected images, mechanical motion, and external sensing technologies to create new work. Digital fabrication techniques will be utilized as needed for implementing studio projects.

Emergent Art (level II studio) provides a cross discipline exploration of emergent digital practices of technologies or methods for making (for example, games, virtual reality, augmented reality, 360 video, generative art, or machine learning). Students will research and analyze the use of technologies from multiple disciplines as a way to expand their practice of making, and discuss the ethical and legal issues surrounding the use of new technology.

Examples of artwork in emergent art and interactivity may be found in Nancy Baker Cahill’s /Liberty Bell/, an augmented reality art work that debuted July 4, 2020 [1]; and software such as Artbreeder, which was used by Bas Uterwijk to create lifelike photographs of historical figures [2]; and EBSynth that use machine learning to apply painterly effects to video sequences [3].

The “HeK (House of Electronic Arts Basel) is the Swiss national competence centre that deals with art forms that address and reflect upon new media and technologies [4]. With its focus on interdisciplinary practices, it enables insights for a broad public into art productions of various genres between art, media, and technology.” A recent HeK exhibition was /Real Feelings/ which presented works by 20 artists, ranging from artificial intelligence, interactive installations, robotics and biometrics to gaming, video installations, virtual reality and photography. They explore how technologies are collating, assessing or triggering our emotions in multiple ways and directions.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s /Pulse Room/ (2006) featured incandescent light bulbs, voltage controllers, heart rate sensors, a computer and metal sculpture [5]. And, Teamlab, an international art collective, produces work such as, /Flutter of Butterflies, Ephemeral Life/, which integrates real-time computer graphics to produce, “The interaction between people and the installation causes continuous change in the artwork: previous visual states can never be replicated, and will never reoccur. The picture at this moment can never be seen again.” [6]