Art and Art Education’s New Media Art Studio ☆

This semester, the Art and Art Education program debuts its New Media Art Studio, located at 51 Thorndike Hall.  Created under the direction of Professor Judith Burton, it rounds out the program’s other studio offerings, including ceramics, painting, printing and sculpture.

“The New Media Art Studio will be an empowering, creative space where we can learn to imagine and re-imagine the integration of ‘new media’ with art education.  Teachers, artists, and art teachers can experiment, explore and play with the materials of new media art,” explains Sean Justice, doctoral student and manager of the studio.

The New Media Art Studio will feature 12 iMac computer stations with software for learning code, web design, photography, video, bookmaking and illustration, along with scanners and printers.  Future plans include positions in sound, 3D modeling, augmented reality imaging, interactive fabrics, light choreography and robotics.  Could genotype- and bio-art figure into the mix?  Eventually, Justice hopes, with the acknowledgment that dreaming big is part of the journey (and fun) of unchartered waters.

Justice reveals that there’s a internal debate over the name of the studio—and playfully warns that its current name may well change before it is officially christened.  Why the waffling?  Justice sees the term “new media art” as ambiguous:  “We’re building a ‘new’ studio, so does the word ‘new’ modify the studio or the art?  In much contemporary art writing, the word ‘new’ has been de-emphasized because there’s hardly anything ‘new’ about computers any more (that is, even as previously unknown configurations become available, the key concept of ‘computer’ as ‘system’—hardware and software—no longer feels as puzzling as it used to).”

Justice explains that words in this new media art age are being used rather interchangeably (such as technology or technological-art, digital, emerging media, mobile media, trans-media, trans-art and post-media), and that’s exciting too.  “For me the question of the exact word to use is important as a dialogue because it points to the indeterminacy of the project as a whole. This is very important, I think, because we have to acknowledge that we don’t really know what is happening exactly in this field. Allowing the name to remain up for grabs, a little, helps keep that dynamic open and at play.”

Name aside, the studio’s focus is to explore the position of computers as systems and ways of knowing in art education specifically.  Justice feels that what we know about computers has not reached art education, and he offers a contradiction to prove his point:  “There’s a lot of work and interest in computers in education, obviously, and there’s a lot of computers in the art world, but there aren’t a lot of computers (yet) in the general art classroom. Ironically it seems that as often as not, an art teacher will be asked to run or oversee a school’s computer lab, but won’t be given many computer resources to be used in the art classroom.”

The studio will serve a wide community, including art teachers learning how to integrate computer systems into their curriculum, non-new media art teachers exploring the general scope of possibilities, program doctoral students running research projects and artists in search of new media studio space.

There are plans to host visiting new media artists who will conduct workshops that exhibit the cutting edge of new media art, and to bring in educators who are currently working with computers in art education (both in and outside of schools) to show what’s already underway.  Currently, the studio will offer classes in photo and new technology in the arts, with a new media art process and structures class under development.

As the facility manager, Justice was charged with the task of planning the New Media Art Studio while shutting another of the program’s spaces.  He offers his gratitude to Professor Burton for her vision and guidance, and offers a team of others–a true cross-section of the TC community–as key to making the place a reality:  Jeff Serravezza and Michael Long of Capital Projects; Tom McDermott in Purchasing; Richard Jochum and Jerry Vezzuso, fellow Art and Art Education instructors; and Angela Allmond, the program’s academic secretary (and fellow student).

Stay posted for a New Media Art Studio blog on Pressible to learn about events and happenings.  Until then, the TC community is welcome to visit the space at room 51C, Thorndike Hall*:

Monday        11 to 6
Tuesday        11 to 5
Wednesday   10 to 6
Thursday       10 to 4
Friday            10 to 6
*Note: 10/10 – 10/14, open hours will be reduced because of the digital learning conference at the New School.

To correspond with the studio, please use this email address: MediaArtStudio@tc.columbia.edu