The School of the Art Institute of Chicago's (SAIC) Art and Technology Studies department provides a fresh and innovative forum for interdisciplinary research in the arts by encouraging a rich exchange of ideas and methods across all departments at SAIC. The department's interests in such areas as interactive and adaptive environments, performing objects, advanced animation, 3D modeling and smart materials, for example, has fueled ongoing cooperation with the departments of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects; Sculpture; Film, Video, New Media, and Animation; and Fashion Design.

You can choose to focus your studies in the following areas of concentration within the Art and Technology Studies curriculum:

 

Hybrid and Virtual Worlds: Experimental Visualization and Fabrication

Using the constantly changing tools and techniques of visualization and fabrication, including direct programming as well as commercial design tools, we envision, propose, and build imaginary objects, environments, performances, and events. Art outcomes can include a wide range of 3D animations, hybrid tableaux integrating traditional art elements, participatory virtual environments, visual proposals for all manners of conceptually driven projects, and machine-fabricated art objects derived from virtual models and datasets.

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Interaction as Materials and Venue: Performative Objects and Responsive Environments

Responding to the relentless increase in the intelligence and autonomy of the built world, we bring inert objects to life, endowing them with personalities and behaviors, exploring ways of configuring environments to adapt, entertain, and serve their users.  This work combines technical skills such as programming, electronics, and mechanical fabrication with the creative challenge of understanding behavior and interaction as art materials and processes. Often, the production of artwork involves participation with DIY communities, open-source software and hardware, and collaboration.  Project outcomes range from purely aesthetic performing and responsive objects, to more pragmatic applications in daily objects such as hacked appliances, toys, and robotics.

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Bio Art

When working with Bio Art, artists literally create or manipulate life both at the macroscopic and microscopic levels. In Art and Technology Studies, we produce works that are (or incorporate) living organisms or systems in which the living and the non-living are intertwined.

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Embodied Networks: Collectivity and The Collapse of Separation

The potential of instantaneously linking almost any persons, spaces, or technological systems with any others creates a boundless provocation to socially and experimentally oriented artists. We work with tools that enable conceptually driven interactions with information, the mastery and subversion of network protocols, and the spontaneous formation of online, geo-physical, and hybrid communities. We are thus able to experiment with self-structured collectivities, unconventional communications, and interactions; access to remote monitoring and information systems; and engage with distributed performative art objects and systems.

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Thinking, Creating and Designing with Light

No artist needs to be reminded of the importance of light, and rare is the art that is not affected by it in one way or another. At SAIC we go beyond this observation and work actively with light—a rich selection of courses focus on understanding and shaping its dynamics, and exploiting a range of ways of producing and using it—in a wide variety of contexts and from an impressive array of sources.

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History and Theory: Art and Technology Studies

The Art and Technology Studies department contributes significantly to the SAIC community by teaching both the history and the theory of art and technology. This occurs not only in the context of the studio classes but also in a group of focused graduate seminars and undergraduate lecture courses infused and enriched by the work of international artists and theoreticians. History courses underscore the fertile, complementary, and long-standing relationship between artists and technology.  Theory courses explore a range of conceptual issues and perspectives uniquely provoked by technology as a general mode of human enterprise.

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