Art and Technology Studies Graduate Overview

Faculty and students in the Art and Technology Studies (ATS) department are visionary artists and innovators who create new aesthetic experiences and invent the very tools and processes needed for their realization.

ATS students create and manipulate objects, images, sound, text, music, voice, light, and movement with custom-written software, newly fabricated materials, unconventional processes, and new methods of integrating other technologies and disciplines.

In fall 2023, the Department of Art and Technology Studies and the Department of Sound are merging into Art and Technology / Sound Practices (AT/SP). New applicants can use this pathway to explore Art and Technology Studies work, Sound work, or both. This new synergy creates a place to explore, critique, and imagine the potentials of artistic production through focused study and interdisciplinary experimentation. Visit Sound to learn more about their ethos and courses.

A World-Class Community of Faculty

Art and Technology Studies faculty are artists with national and international reputations with backgrounds in multiple disciplines, including computer science, engineering, machining, sound, light, musical composition, poetry, biology, performance, philosophy, and contemporary theory. They teach the complexities of programming, electronics, fabrication, neon, holography, and bio art; virtual, augmented, and mixed reality; and other practices in ways that take full advantage of the freedom inherent in an interdisciplinary environment. Students gain an understanding of the aesthetic, social, political, and economic forces that drive the development and utilization of technology.

Celebrating 50 Years of Innovation

As a fine art department focused on the use of technology as an art medium, The ATS department’s roots are the Kinetics and Electronics area established in 1969 by Steve Waldeck and the Generative Systems area created in 1970 by Sonia Sheridan. The fusion of these two areas unified the department and established the foundation of its experimental ethos.

In 2019, Art and Technology celebrated their 50th year of creative experimentation with cutting-edge and now-retro media. Download the Art and Technology 50th anniversary publication. Explore more here.

Cutting-Edge Curriculum

In the Art and Technology Studies department, new technologies are invented, subverted, hacked, questioned, co-opted, demystified, hybridized, and shared. In addition to selecting and working closely with graduate advisors in Graduate Projects, students in the Art and Technology Studies department may take graduate courses on topics relevant to the discipline. Recent examples include: Art and BiotechnologyPerforming InteractivityExperimental MediaMachine LearningComputer VisionCreative CodingVirtual RealityGrad Critique Seminar, and Philosophy of Technology

Ars Electronica Exhibitions

Since 2018, ATS has continuously participated in the international festival Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria—the most prestigious event in the fields of art and technology, new media, and digital art.

Bringing together graduate students and faculty, the ATS Ars Electronica initiative is an annual showcase of the most experimental work produced by this visionary department. Each year, Art and Technology Studies graduate students are considered for this opportunity by an external curator working with the department. Click here to learn more.


ATS is a fine art department focused on using technology as an art medium. Unlike other disciplines that use technology at the service of traditional forms, faculty and students in Art and Technology Studies employ technology itself as their medium. Works produced in ATS are often time-based, interactive, immersive, multi-sensory, or hybrids of retro and cutting-edge technologies. 

In its current configuration, ATS teaches numerous courses in the following disciplines: Programming, Light, Electronics & Kinetics, Audio, VR, AR & Games, Bio Art, and History & Theory. The department also teaches courses in Exploratory areas that fall outside these disciplines, such as Poetic Systems and Olfactory Art, to name a few.

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

  • Artists interested in pursuing real motion in their work are provided with the instructional and material support to create self-contained moving objects, pneumatic and airborne systems, inflatables, autonomous machines (such as robots), remote-controlled devices, and many other kinds of kinetic works. Students work with electronics, mechanical fabrication and programming to produce a range of works going from simple kinetics sculptures to complex interactive works. Students learn machining skills to be able to fabricate motion components and build moving objects. Utilizing electronics, students can implement custom circuitry to control their work. 

    Topics and classes Include:

    • Art and Technology Practices
    • Mechanisms, Movement & Meaning
    • Kinetics and Computer Control
    • Actuator Design & Integration
    • Electronics as an Art Material
    • Hacking the Object
    • Pneumatics: Art with Compressed Air
    • Fabricating for Motion
    • Wearables and Soft Computing
    • Motion and Air
    • Analog Electronics
    • Activated Objects: Digital Control
    • DIY Broadcast Media

  • Open software and hardware are integral to departmental curriculum. Students learn programming for embedded devices and media applications. Students can utilize languages such as openFrameworks, C++, Processing, Javascript, and Python to develop interactive works or employ embedded controllers in objects, machines, media and systems of their own creation. ATS courses also treat data as raw material for visualization and machine learning. 

    Topics and classes Include:

    • Art and Technology Practices
    • Interactive Art and Creative Coding
    • Data Visualization
    • Web Art
    • Object Oriented Programming
    • Intro to Computer Vision
    • Internet of Things
    • Hacking the Book
    • Poetic Systems
    • Electronic Writing

  • Students can study and create works that explore virtual or augmented reality, gaming, simulation, immersive digital performance and installation, and many other related forms. 

    Topics and classes Include:

    • Virtual Reality
    • Experimental Game Lab
    • Mixed Reality Performance
    • n3w_b0d1es
    • Video Game Music Composition

  • The department explores musical composition in a wide array of contexts, as well as sound as an art form. Students work in a state-of-the-art lab with current hardware, software, instruments and a whisper room. 

    Topics and classes Include:

    • Digital Sound
    • Video Game Music Composition
    • Max/MSP
    • Sound Performance
    • Raspberry Pi and PD
    • Synthesis
    • Sound Installation

  • 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. In ATS we work actively with light in multiple contexts and from an impressive range of sources. Topics and classes Include:

    • Neon
    • Holography
    • Social Solar
    • Shaping Light
    • Light Experiments
    • Digital Light Projection
    • Public Light and Space

  • When working with Bioart, 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. Topics and classes include:

    • Bioart Studio
    • Synthetic Futures
    • Art and Biotechnology Graduate Seminar

  • 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 contemporary issues and perspectives uniquely provoked by technology as a general mode of human enterprise. Topics and classes include:

    • History of Art and Technology
    • Digital Art in Europe Now
    • Art and Biotechnology
    • Philosophy of Technology

  • While providing several courses in its main areas, the department also develops other areas that don’t fit larger rubrics. ATS faculty continuously develop new courses that invent new approaches, anticipate new trends, or meet the demand for specific experimental media. Topics and classes include:

    • Sensing the Landscape
    • From Model to Object
    • Embodying Code
    • Alternative Image Capture
    • Olfactory Art
    • Social Media Narrative

TA and Work Study Opportunities

The department offers several jobs for graduate students which include the following:

  • Departmental Assistants
  • Lab Technicians
  • Techroom Technicians
  • Teaching Assistants (TAs)
  • Special Projects Positions

Positions available to the ATS graduate students provide opportunities to work closely with faculty, staff, and peers in various ways. Departmental assistants work with the graduate coordinator to create community across the ATS graduate cohorts. Lab and techroom assistants support all students with the operation of equipment and tools in our facilities. Teaching assistants collaborate with faculty to help students with classroom assignments and workshops. In addition, Special Project positions are announced as needed.

Graduate Projects

The cornerstone of SAIC's graduate studio program is its focus on tutorially guided studio practice. Each semester in addition to selecting from graduate advisors in the department, you will select from more than 100 graduate faculty advisors at SAIC, representing myriad disciplines, approaches, and intellectual positions. Ultimately, it is the student’s work that drives the choice of advisor, and both disciplinary and interdisciplinary work is supported and advanced. Faculty from the academic programs in Art History, Arts Administration and Policy, Art Education, and Visual and Critical Studies also serve as graduate advisors, providing yet more expertise in support of SAIC Graduate Projects.

Critique Week

Critique Week, one of the principle means of assessment each semester, is a week-long schedule of critiques during which classes are suspended and the entire faculty and invited visiting artists and designers assemble into panels that conduct intensive studio critiques with all studio and writing graduate students.

Fall semester critiques are organized by department, with panels representing the discipline. They provide you an opportunity to have your work evaluated by the department, look at your work from a disciplinary point of view, and reinforce the expectations for your graduate study.

Spring semester critiques are interdisciplinary, with panel members of faculty, visiting artists, and peers from across SAIC departments. Interdisciplinary critiques in the spring semesters allow for a broader range of responses to the work, and are intended to assess the success of your work for a more general, yet highly informed, audience.

Studio critiques are required of every full-time graduate student pursuing an MFA in Studio or Writing degree. Typically, SAIC graduate students have at least four critique panels throughout their studies at SAIC, augmenting biweekly tutorials with their graduate advisors.

Upcoming Admissions Events


Graduate SAIC Days offer prospective students the opportunity to get portfolio feedback from faculty from individual departments during one-on-one meetings, plus learn more about all SAIC's graduate degree offerings, tour campus, and learn more about financial aid. 

Saturday, December 02 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. CST at MacLean Ballroom 112 S. Michigan Chicago, IL 60603

Take the Next Step

Graduate Priority Application Deadline: 12/1

SAIC's Graduate Programs offer a priority deadline and reduced application fee before December 1. APPLY

MFA in Studio Admissions Requirements
Curriculum & Courses

Continue to explore the Art and Technology Studies department website to learn about our curricular offerings, faculty, students, and alumni, visit the Master of Fine Arts in Studio degree program for more detailed information, or schedule a tour.

Visit the graduate admissions website or contact the graduate admissions office at 312.629.6100, 800.232.7242 or

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MFA Art and Technology Studies Program Brochure