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Arts Fueled Innovation: CalArts Launches Digital Arts Minor

Digital Arts Minor combines the Institute’s experimental ethos with innovative arts-based teaching

Posted: August 8, 2013 11:47 a.m.
Updated: August 8, 2013 11:48 a.m.

Valencia, CA, August 7--In an open letter to President Obama and Congress, a committee of 164 university presidents and chancellors asserted that closing the nation’s “innovation deficit” must be a national priority. With innovation at a premium, the arts provide the creative component needed for technological and entrepreneurial progress. Reflecting this reality, California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), long in the forefront of leading-edge arts and technology, has developed an interdisciplinary Digital Arts Minor for undergraduates. The program launches in Fall 2013.

“We increasingly hear about the need for innovation—and innovation is exactly what artists do,” said Ajay Kapur, Associate Dean for Research and Development in Digital Arts. “Artists of all disciplines can make game-changing contributions to digital culture. The Digital Arts Minor helps students grasp the knowledge to build, engineer and design innovative custom systems. The goal is to further our understanding of how technology can be used in the arts and beyond.”

Devised for undergraduate artists and performers, the Digital Art Minor mobilizes expertise from CalArts’ six schools—Music, Theater, Dance, Film, Art and Critical Studies. The interdisciplinary curriculum incorporates computer programming, web design, video editing, digital fabrication and digital sound production while providing a historical context for art making in digital environments. The program is fueled by the idea that artists, of all disciplines, can be educated to invent new possibilities for interaction—through the fabrication of technological objects and interfaces, web-based communication and career marketing strategies.

From its inception, CalArts has been associated with technological innovation. In the 1970s, CalArts was renowned for its prescient experiments with electronic and computer-generated music. Currently, the Institute’s Music Technology curriculum is unique in the world, engaging students in custom software design, circuit design for human-computer interfacing, and the use of robotic mechanical systems and artificial intelligence in musical and artistic practice. CalArts houses the one-of-a-kind N2N (many-to-many) digital classroom and offers a groundbreaking arts-based curriculum for computer science novices. The Institute’s School of Film/Video, with its renowned animation programs, is a global leader in computer graphics and advanced digital media technologies—and is currently one of five U.S. schools selected for the Google Glass Filmmaking Initiative.

In Fall 2013, students around the world can experience CalArts’ innovative arts-based computer science curriculum for free. CalArts has teamed with premier online education provider Coursera to offer a digital programming class, as well as two other MOOCs (massive open online courses).

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