Graduate Curriculum Overview

The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is designed to offer maximum flexibility in addressing your individual needs as a student. Following admission through a department, you will design your two-year plan of study based on optimizing the offerings and opportunities available throughout SAIC. You are encouraged to seek out curricular advising as needed from a variety of available sources including the dean, graduate dean, graduate division chair, department heads, academic advising, the graduate admissions office, and your peers.

Studio—MFA 6009 Graduate Projects, Seminars and/or maximum of 12 credits of 3000-level and above studios39
Art History12
  • ARTHI 5002 Graduate Survey of Modern and Contemporary Art OR ARTHI 5120 Survey of Modern and Contemporary Architecture and Design (3)
  • Art History Courses, 4000-level or above (9)
 
Electives—any course in any area at 3000 level or above9
Participation in four graduate critiques 
Participation in ONE of the following as appropriate to artistic practice:* Graduate Exhibition, AIADO or Fashion Exhibition, Graduate Performance Event, Graduate Screenings 
Total Credit Hours60

* Students who wish to use an alternative venue or presentation outside of these options must receive permission from the Dean of Graduate Studies. 

Degree Requirements and Specifications

  • Completion schedule: Students are expected to complete the MFA in Studio degree in four consecutive semesters. Students have a maximum of four years to complete the MFA in Studio degree. This includes time off for leaves of absence. Students will have access to a studio for a maximum of four semesters only.
  • Transfer credits: You must complete a minimum of 45 credit hours in residence at SAIC. You can request up to 15 transfer credits at the time of application for admission, which are subject to approval at that time. No transfer credits are permitted after a student is admitted.
  • Art History requirement: MFA students are required to take ARTHII 5002 Graduate Survey of Modern and Contemporary Art OR ARTHI 5120 Survey of Modern and Contemporary Architecture and Design. Art History courses must be at the 4000-level and above.
  • Undergraduate studio courses: Graduate students are permitted no more than one undergraduate studio course (3000-level and above) per semester without permission of the Dean of Graduate Studies. Courses at the 1000 and 2000-level are allowed only with permission.
  • Full-Time Status Minimum Requirement: 12 credit hours

Course Listing

Please note Art & Technology / Sound Practices courses will appear separate until February 2024.

Art & Technology

Title Catalog Instructor Schedule

Description

Consider how object based movement creates both meaning and tone, and how movement functions much like non-verbal communication. We'll attempt to approach the technical matters of controlling motion from the aesthetic perspective of an animator or a dancer. The course introduces basic techniques for creating moving parts appropriate for a broad range of creative and material practices. Technical matters covered through exercises include motors, speed control, fabrication of moving parts and simple circuits for motor control. Self-determined projects will demonstrate mastery of skills and concepts.

Class Number

1092

Credits

3

Department

Art and Technology Studies

Area of Study

Art and Science

Location

MacLean B1-07

Description

This team-taught, introductory course provides a foundation for most additional coursework in the Art and Technology Studies department. Students are given a broad interdisciplinary grounding in the skills, concepts, and hands-on experiences they will need to engage the potentials of new technologies in art making. Every other week, a lecture and discussion group exposes students to concepts of electronic media, perception, inter-media composition, emerging venues, and other issues important to artists working with technologically based media. Students will attend a morning & afternoon section each day to gain hands-on experience with a variety of forms and techniques central to technologically-based art making.

Class Number

1090

Credits

3

Department

Art and Technology Studies

Area of Study

Game Design, Art and Science

Location

MacLean 401, MacLean B1-07

Description

This team-taught, introductory course provides a foundation for most additional coursework in the Art and Technology Studies department. Students are given a broad interdisciplinary grounding in the skills, concepts, and hands-on experiences they will need to engage the potentials of new technologies in art making. Every other week, a lecture and discussion group exposes students to concepts of electronic media, perception, inter-media composition, emerging venues, and other issues important to artists working with technologically based media. Students will attend a morning & afternoon section each day to gain hands-on experience with a variety of forms and techniques central to technologically-based art making.

Class Number

1090

Credits

3

Department

Art and Technology Studies

Area of Study

Game Design, Art and Science

Location

MacLean 401, MacLean B1-07

Description

What are the concerns that drive one's creative practice? How does one set the terms for its future development? Sophomore Seminar offers strategies for students to explore, reflect upon, and connect common themes and interests in the development of an emerging creative practice that will serve as the basis of their ongoing studies at SAIC and beyond. Students will examine historical and contemporary influences and contextualize their work in relation to the diverse art-worlds of the 21st Century. Readings, screenings, and field trips will vary each semester. Presentations by visiting artists and guest speakers will provide the opportunity for students to hear unique perspectives on sustaining a creative practice. One-on-one meetings with faculty will provide students with individualized mentorship throughout the semester. During interdisciplinary critiques, students will explore a variety of formats and tools to analyze work and provide peer feedback. The class mid-term project asks students to imagine a plan for their creative life and devise a self-directed course of study for their time at school. The course concludes with an assignment asking students to develop and document a project or body of work demonstrating how the interplay of ideas, technical skills, and formal concerns evolve through iteration, experimentation and revision. Prerequisite: Must be a sophomore to enroll.

Prerequisites

Prerequisite: Must be a sophomore to enroll.

Class Number

2169

Credits

3

Department

Art and Technology Studies

Location

MacLean 414

Description

Even though we live in a primarily analog world, most of our experience of modernity is digital. We will examine the similarities and differences of these two worlds through the lens of electronics, focusing on the role of analog systems in art-making. The course provides a hands-on exploration of analog sound and video circuit elements and systems as well as a survey of relevant artists, artworks and practices. Students will be able to make a variety of works, including performance, interactive objects and environments, still images, audiovisual instruments, audio pieces, and video, to name a few. Course activities will be supported by the purchase of a kit of resources to facilitate hands-on exploration. Each student will research a topic of interest and will respond to it through the lens of their own practice in the creation of a final project. No prior skills in electronics or art and technology studies are required; however, curiosity and a willingness to learn are a must.

Class Number

1094

Credits

3

Department

Art and Technology Studies

Area of Study

Art and Science, Social Media and the Web

Location

MacLean 423

Description

Students will investigate scent as an expressive medium. They will have access to the ATS Perfume Organ and specialized lab equipment. Course content includes basic aromatic blending, hydro-distillation extraction techniques and how to impregnate scent into various media. At least TWO works of Olfactory Art are to be completed. The last one is considered the FINAL and should be an opus ready for gallery/performance/experiential application.Students should leave this class with the ability to thoughtfully engage Olfactory Work as practitioners, researchers and thinkers within personal, historical, theoretical and conceptual contexts.

Class Number

1095

Credits

3

Department

Art and Technology Studies

Area of Study

Art and Science

Location

Michigan B1-19

Description

With a concentration on creative practice in online environments, students will focus on the work of women, from the early days of computing, to the late 20th century, to the 21st century. In addition to lectures, readings, and traversals, practicum segments will guide student creation of online works that explore and expand on the role of women in cyberspace. Beginning with the work of women software engineers, such as black mathematician Katherine Johnson, and engineer and transgender activist Lynn Conway -- and with a project-oriented focus -- the course will look at the cyberspace-based work of women artist innovators, including ECHONYC founder, Stacy Horn; Cave Automatic Virtual Environment developer Carolina Cruz-Neira; and Ping Fu and Colleen Bushell's role in graphical interface design for Mosaic. At its core, the course will focus on the works of women cyberartists, including Joan Jonas, Sherrie Rabinowitz, Nancy Paterson, Brenda Laurel, Pamela Z, Char Davies, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Shu Lea Cheang, Tamiko Thiel, Carla Gannis, and Micha Cardenas. Students will create women-centered virtual art works, including graphic narratives and electronic manuscripts, and/or archives, online essays, or criticism. Note that because Women Artists in Cyberspace is an asynchronous class, attendance on a specific day or time is not required.

Class Number

1102

Credits

3

Department

Art and Technology Studies

Area of Study

Gender and Sexuality, Digital Communication, Digital Imaging

Location

Online

Description

As we adapt to the evolving demands of our politics and environment, we are often asked to prepare for a 'New Reality'. How are 'New Realities' imagined and formed? How can the act of imagining become a tool of creation?, This course will technically and conceptually explore what it means to create and simulate ?new realities? within game engines. As XR (extended reality) technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality devices have become untethered, video game entertainment has become as ubiquitous as film, and user familiarity with the rhetoric of virtual worlds has become more common, this course will expose students to the many modalities in which game engines can be used to produce artwork. Exploring histories of artists using digital media and simulation to produce interactive and highly immersive experiences, this course offers students technical guidance in creating artistic output from game engine tools, while learning from artist practices of that range from games, animation, simulation, to machinima (cinematic film captured from game engine worlds). With an emphasis on how interactive 3D worlds interact with our increasingly online and virtual routines, students will build projects that explore themes of participation, movement, behavior and world building to investigate our perceptions of ?reality?. The collected group of individuals in this class will act as an experimental lab of participants, collectively and individually pushing the boundaries between the virtual and the physical. Primarily working with the software Unity, this course will include technical demos, readings, and investigations into the histories of immersive media, machinima, and play as an artistic medium. Previous experience working with Unity recommended but not required. Course work will vary but typically includes weekly reading responses, a mid term project, a final project as well as in class demos and workshops. Students may work collaboratively on these projects if they choose.

Class Number

1101

Credits

3

Department

Art and Technology Studies

Area of Study

Furniture Design, Game Design

Location

MacLean 402

Description

Computer vision allows machines to see and understand their environment. This course will equip students with the practical skills and critical theory needed to both employ and critically engage these techniques. Real-time body tracking, facial recognition and gesture analysis using RGB+D and LiDAR sensors, artificial intelligence and machine learning will be emphasized. Students will explore and critique contemporary applications ranging from automated mass surveillance to interactive installations. A final project will build on in-class workshops, technical exercises, critical readings and discussions.

Class Number

1097

Credits

3

Department

Art and Technology Studies

Location

MacLean 401

Description

DIY has become a widespread movement in the artistic community. Modifying, tinkering, tweaking and downright hijacking have become a commonplace practice among today?s artists. Many everyday electronic objects are yearning to be liberated from their banal existences. This course explores readily available materials with a goal of bringing out the hidden aesthetic potentials of electronic devices. Students dig beneath the shiny surfaces to uncover underlying workings, principles and mechanisms. Class projects result in new artworks by reanimating the physical presences and behaviors of the reassembled artifact.

Class Number

1103

Credits

3

Department

Art and Technology Studies

Area of Study

Art and Science

Location

MacLean B1-07

Description

Light is a material that can be shaped to express ideas, create experiences and increase the communicative potential of objects and spaces. Through a combination of lectures, demos, fields trips and most of all, hands-on lab work, students develop a degree of self sufficiency in the design, construction and prototyping of illuminated objects, physical graphics and environmental lighting. Students learn basic electronic and electrical circuit design, lamp specification and experiment with illumination technologies including incandescent, LED and cold cathode (neon).

Class Number

1096

Credits

3

Department

Art and Technology Studies

Area of Study

Public Space, Site, Landscape, Art and Science

Location

MacLean B1-16

Description

Alternative Image Capture investigates emerging imaging technology. AI image making and animation, 3D Camera, monitor and projection systems, action cameras, trail cams, IP equipped video, smart phone, infrared, thermal, and DSLR cameras will be used to collect primary images, video and audio material. Further exploration will include methods of processing and distribution of still and animated imagery. The ultimate shape of the course will be informed by breaking technology and the interests of the students in the class.

Class Number

1091

Credits

3

Department

Art and Technology Studies

Area of Study

Digital Imaging

Location

MacLean 401

Description

In this course we will work in collaborative teams to produce projects to enter the first annual Biodesign Challenge, a competition to envision the future of synthetic biology. Synthetic biology is the design and construction of life itself; the engineering of living organisms as biological machines. The field consists of scientists, industries, artists, and citizens using known fundamentals governing how biology works on a submicro-level in order to create meaningful alterations to how life functions. This hybrid studio/science course will introduce students to the theory and techniques of microbial genetic engineering while placing it in a larger cultural, ethical and artistic context. Students will learn and explore the basics of biology of all living organisms with an emphasis on single celled organisms, supported by lab work with bacterial cultures, DNA extraction and manipulation, polymerase chain reaction and gel electrophoresis. Fluency with these lab techniques will enable critical consideration of research and experimentation in biological science and in art and design. Studio projects will focus on designing systems and experiments to utilize this technology conceptually and creatively. The course will culminate in a design summit in New York City, an exhibition of winning projects, and a publication in print and online.

Class Number

1105

Credits

3

Department

Art and Technology Studies

Area of Study

Collaboration, Politics and Activisms, Art and Science, Sustainable Design

Location

MacLean 414, Michigan B1-19

Description

This course is offered for those students interested in developing skills in the creation and application of digital audio. Using Apple's Logic software, students interested in exploring sound or music are introduced to audio manipulation techniques that allow them to create soundtracks, to record and produce songs or dance tracks, realize abstract sound pieces or manipulate sound for installations. Techniques of sound manipulation are introduced, including audio recording and editing, looping, and sound destruction. MIDI, drum programming, the use of software synthesis and basic music and composition techniques are addressed according to the needs of individual students. The class is structured to encourage the interaction of students with a wide range of technical ability in audio from beginners to advanced artists in the early stages of a professional practice.

Class Number

1098

Credits

3

Department

Art and Technology Studies

Area of Study

Digital Communication, Art and Science

Location

MacLean 431

Description

This course is offered for those students interested in developing skills in the creation and application of digital audio. Using Apple's Logic software, students interested in exploring sound or music are introduced to audio manipulation techniques that allow them to create soundtracks, to record and produce songs or dance tracks, realize abstract sound pieces or manipulate sound for installations. Techniques of sound manipulation are introduced, including audio recording and editing, looping, and sound destruction. MIDI, drum programming, the use of software synthesis and basic music and composition techniques are addressed according to the needs of individual students. The class is structured to encourage the interaction of students with a wide range of technical ability in audio from beginners to advanced artists in the early stages of a professional practice.

Class Number

1099

Credits

3

Department

Art and Technology Studies

Area of Study

Digital Communication, Art and Science

Location

MacLean 431

Description

Societies, ecologies and organisms are complex systems that require coordination among their disparate elements to function. These biological systems accomplish this by communicating in a variety of different ways: sound, light, touch, chemical messaging, the exchange of genetic material and electrical impulses. This studio art course critically examines the variety of ways simple biological systems communicate through the lens of contemporary discourse around posthuman roles in the anthropocene and its attendant problems of mass extinction, climate change, clean energy and dwindling resources. The course will examine examples of biological communications among multicellular and unicellular non-human organisms and will draw on a history of artwork in the field of bioart. The studio asks the student to identify (speculate) ways they can intervene in, mimic or participate in these communication networks in order to inspire empathy and establish new ways of interspecies communication. Course activities will be supported by the purchase of kit whose contents will serve as tools to facilitate observation, recording, measurement and conversation with the subjects of our explorations. Each student will research a topic of interest and will respond to it through the lens of their own practice in the creation of a final project. No prior skills in electronics or art and technology studies are required; however, curiosity and a willingness to learn are a must.

Class Number

1795

Credits

3

Department

Art and Technology Studies

Area of Study

Art/Design and Politics, Art and Science

Location

Michigan B1-19

Description

The relatively simple to program microprocessor technology and solid state hardware allow students to focus on issues of content and concept. Students will learn both industry standards and unique solutions of assembly, installation and presentation. Students will be asked to create work where the temporal, spacial and physical elements are intrinsically related. Artists will look at both commercial work from mid-century and current fine art with an emphasis on animation, and other implementations and mixing of technologies. A special emphasis will be given to Bruce Nauman, who most exemplifies the values of this course. Students will be required to complete assigned exercises early in the semester. There will be an assigned mid-term followed by several weeks of studio and a final critique.

Prerequisites

Pre: ARTTECH 2112

Class Number

1104

Credits

3

Department

Art and Technology Studies

Area of Study

Animation, Graphic Design

Location

MacLean B1-16

Description

This hands-on course embraces and develops a radically wider concept of computation that includes responsive, purposeful behavior that may be embodied in many types of physical media, objects and environments. Artists from many disciplines explore answers to such questions as: How can the computer perceive and understand the environment outside its box? Can the computer be taught to respond astutely to human gestures and actions in its vicinity? How can previously inert materials be given life? Basic programming and interfacing techniques for sensory awareness, embedded intelligence, communications, and purposeful behaviors are applied to the creation of intelligent objects and responsive environments in this multidisciplinary course.

Prerequisites

Prerequisite: ARTTECH 2101 or permission of instructor.

Class Number

2162

Credits

3

Department

Art and Technology Studies

Area of Study

Art and Science

Location

MacLean 423

Description

This course will focus on cybernetics and embodiment through the lens of the posthuman, connecting us with the vast array of disciplines that contribute to the DNA of this field. This is the place where new images, sounds, language, and identities emerge through experimental studio techniques centered around self-directed evolution. Students will be introduced to relevant concepts though weekly discussions on the topics of space travel, medical breakthroughs, survival suits, and artistic interpretations of the cyborg. Readings will vary throughout the semester and will include topics such as embodiment, hybrid identities, body modification, and fleshy data. Essays and articles will be curated from the following texts: Posthuman Glossary edited by Rosi Braidotti and Maria Hlavajova; The Cyborg Handbook edited by Chris Hables Gray; and The Journal of Posthuman Studies: Philosophy, Technology, Media edited by Stefan Lorenz Sorgner & James Hughes. Students can expect to spend each week discussing assigned readings, engaging in brainstorming workshops, and following along with skill-based demonstrations. Assignments include 2 projects and 1 presentation on a topic relevant to the course.

Class Number

2163

Credits

3

Department

Art and Technology Studies

Area of Study

Gender and Sexuality, Art and Science

Location

MacLean 423

Description

What happens to an electronic or computer-based artwork if it fails during an exhibition? Who cares for a digital piece in a collection when the technology that supports that work is outdated? How do artists address the death of the media on which their work relies? This course will focus on preserving and restoring technology-mediated artworks through case studies, practical workshops, guest speakers, and an interdisciplinary research approach. We will discuss exhibitions focused on archiving and preserving technology-mediated artworks and the specific problems facing the artists and the museum staff when showing this work. We'll hear from artists and curators about the challenges and opportunities in maintaining electronic and digital art, historical or contemporary, and study project notes and texts from exhibition catalogs. We'll read about efforts to address the needs of computer-based artworks from a research perspective and look closely at the interdisciplinary approach required to solve technical problems. Practical workshops will focus on repair and restoration skills. Students should expect to talk with students, faculty, and exhibition staff in and around campus in an effort to learn about the way artwork is created, installed, maintained, and archived. Weekly course work will vary but will typically include readings, workshops, a mid-term, and a final project in the form of case studies.

Class Number

1796

Credits

3

Department

Art and Technology Studies

Area of Study

Museum Studies, Art and Science

Location

MacLean 401

Sound Practices

Title Catalog Instructor Schedule

Description

This course will introduce students to basic techniques of working with sound as an artistic material. As a prerequisite for many of the department?s upper level offerings, the class is designed to familiarize the student with both the technology and the historical and aesthetic background relevant to our facilities and courses, to the field of ?sound art? and experimental music in general, and to the application of sound in other disciplines (video, film, performance, installations, etc.) Equipment covered will include microphones, mixers, analog and digital audio recorders, signal processors and analog synthesizers. Hard-disk based recording and editing (ProTools) is introduced, but the focus is on more traditional analog studio technology. The physics of sound will be a recurring subject. Examples of music and sound art, created using similar technology to that in our studios, will be played or performed and discussed in class. The listening list will vary according to the instructors? preferences. Readings are similarly set according to the instructors? syllabus: some sections employ more or less reading than others, contact specific instructors for details. Students are expected to use studio time to complete weekly assignments, which are designed to hone technical skills and, in most cases, foster artistic innovation. Some of these projects can incorporate outside resources (such as the student?s own computers and recordings), but the emphasis is on mastering the studio.

Class Number

1442

Credits

3

Department

Sound

Area of Study

Digital Communication

Location

MacLean 420

Description

This course will introduce students to basic techniques of working with sound as an artistic material. As a prerequisite for many of the department?s upper level offerings, the class is designed to familiarize the student with both the technology and the historical and aesthetic background relevant to our facilities and courses, to the field of ?sound art? and experimental music in general, and to the application of sound in other disciplines (video, film, performance, installations, etc.) Equipment covered will include microphones, mixers, analog and digital audio recorders, signal processors and analog synthesizers. Hard-disk based recording and editing (ProTools) is introduced, but the focus is on more traditional analog studio technology. The physics of sound will be a recurring subject. Examples of music and sound art, created using similar technology to that in our studios, will be played or performed and discussed in class. The listening list will vary according to the instructors? preferences. Readings are similarly set according to the instructors? syllabus: some sections employ more or less reading than others, contact specific instructors for details. Students are expected to use studio time to complete weekly assignments, which are designed to hone technical skills and, in most cases, foster artistic innovation. Some of these projects can incorporate outside resources (such as the student?s own computers and recordings), but the emphasis is on mastering the studio.

Class Number

1443

Credits

3

Department

Sound

Area of Study

Digital Communication

Location

MacLean 420

Description

This course will introduce students to basic techniques of working with sound as an artistic material. As a prerequisite for many of the department?s upper level offerings, the class is designed to familiarize the student with both the technology and the historical and aesthetic background relevant to our facilities and courses, to the field of ?sound art? and experimental music in general, and to the application of sound in other disciplines (video, film, performance, installations, etc.) Equipment covered will include microphones, mixers, analog and digital audio recorders, signal processors and analog synthesizers. Hard-disk based recording and editing (ProTools) is introduced, but the focus is on more traditional analog studio technology. The physics of sound will be a recurring subject. Examples of music and sound art, created using similar technology to that in our studios, will be played or performed and discussed in class. The listening list will vary according to the instructors? preferences. Readings are similarly set according to the instructors? syllabus: some sections employ more or less reading than others, contact specific instructors for details. Students are expected to use studio time to complete weekly assignments, which are designed to hone technical skills and, in most cases, foster artistic innovation. Some of these projects can incorporate outside resources (such as the student?s own computers and recordings), but the emphasis is on mastering the studio.

Class Number

1729

Credits

3

Department

Sound

Area of Study

Digital Communication

Location

MacLean 420

Description

Studio Techniques is an intermediate-level course that approaches the analog recording studio and its technologies as a creative environment for sound manipulation and exploration. Beginning with the sound sample as a material basis, the course combines a detailed approach to the fundamentals of acoustics and auditory perception with thorough instruction on analog signal processing and mixing. Students produce assigned and independent projects using these sample-based analog techniques. Topics are supplemented by listening exercises and examples of various artists? works to give historical and cultural context. Topics in acoustics and auditory perception include sound localization, spatial characteristics of sound, frequency spectrum, and dynamics and loudness. Artists and musicians whose works serve as examples include Carl Stone, Jaap Blonk, John Wall, Laetitia Sonami, Moreno Veloso, and others. Assigned projects include generating disparate sound materials from simple sources; composing sound/music works using self-generated samples and sources; live mixing/composing using analog technologies; independent projects using technologies and strategies introduced in the course content.

Prerequisites

Prerequisite: SOUND 2001 or permission of instructor.

Class Number

1757

Credits

3

Department

Sound

Location

MacLean 416

Description

This class goes beyond the idea of ?surround sound? to consider the possibilities and challenges inherent in presenting sonic compositions to listeners through something other than the default left and right loudspeakers. From the spatial illusions of stereo and ambisonic arrays to tiny, tinny speaker fields, techniques for designing and experiencing multichannel, spatialized sound work will be explored. Emphasis will be given to emerging technologies and experimental techniques. DIY approaches and accessible tools, such as those available for VR sound, will be explored on the path to a practice that foregrounds the presentation of sound in space. A case for mono will be considered. Some of the artists whose work we will explore include Janet Cardiff, Natasha Barrett, Iannis Xenakis, Florian Hecker, and Tristan Perich. Readings will include artist statements as well as technical manuals for relevant tools. Weekly assignments are designed to emphasize specific technical or aesthetic concerns such as issues of electronic and acoustic power, multichannel playback formats, spatial audio in virtual reality, audience experience and the ?sweet spot?. One to two portfolio projects will be created and presented in class in two formal critiques.

Class Number

1445

Credits

3

Department

Sound

Location

MacLean 522

Description

This course focuses on the relationship of sound to moving image, and introduces post-production techniques and strategies that address this relationship as a compositional imperative. Thorough instruction is given on digital audio post-production techniques for moving image, including recording, sound file imports, soundtrack composition and assembly, sound design, and mixing in stereo and surround-sound. This is supplemented by presentations on acoustics and auditory perception. Assigned readings in theories and strategies of sound-image relationships inform studio instruction. Assigned projects focus on gaining post-production skills, and students produce independent projects of their own that integrate sound and moving image. Artists include Chantal Dumas, Walter Verdin, Deborah Stratman, Lucrecia Martel, Martin Scorcese, Abigail Child, Frederic Moffet, Gyorgi Palvi, Francis Ford Coppola, Gary Hill, and others. Writings in theory include texts by Michel Chion, Rick Altman, and others. The student?s independent image-and-sound work is foregrounded and supported; supplemental assigned projects include sound sequence composition and ADR recording and mixing.

Prerequisites

SOUND 2001 or FVNM 2004 or FVNM 5020

Class Number

1444

Credits

3

Department

Sound

Area of Study

Digital Communication

Location

MacLean 1413

Description

The focus of this class will be on improvisation within and without traditions and in relationship and juxtaposition to genre and structure. There are many manifestations across cultures of freedom and transformation through improvisation. We will look at improvisational sound, music and performance and their potentials and outcomes -- from moments of imaginative exploration inside the form, to the search for freedom, discovery and re-contextualization. We will dig into the need for improvisation, its effect on the audience, and its power to provoke cultural change. Can improvisation be a practice as a whole, an approach to all forms? Improvisation in performance and practice takes us to new places that are of the moment and a way forward, as exemplified in the work of the provocative Egyptian vocalist Umm Kalsoum who broke gender norms; Sun Ra’s sonic storytelling and myth building based on Black American cultural signifiers; the genre-bending deconstructive electronic manipulations of Mixmaster Mike. The students’ individual and collective explorations of improvisation in their own practice will be fueled by discussions, recordings, performance documentation and texts by artists, practitioners, and writers, including Rob Mazurek, Tomeka Reid & Nicole Mitchell, Wadada Leo Smith, Sun Ra, Umm Kalsoum, Kid Koala & Mixmaster Mike, and more. Students engage in a variety of in-class approaches to individual and collective improvisation. These include exercises on exploring and expanding one's instrument of choice, close-listening and responsive-listening projects aimed at increased attention to collaborators in the moment, and projects in which cross-cultural and historical approaches to improvisation are analyzed and mobilized towards individual interpretation. These are amplified by meetings with visiting artists who share their experiences of improvisation in a wide range of contexts.

Class Number

2071

Credits

3

Department

Sound

Area of Study

Art/Design and Politics

Location

MacLean 522

Description

This is a class is hardware hacking for audio applications (and a little video as well). No previous electronic experience is assumed. Basic soldering skills will be learned through building contact microphones and coils to sniff electromagnetic fields. We will then open up a range of battery-powered 'consumer' technology (radios, boom boxes, electronic toys), observe the effect of direct hand contact on the circuit boards, experiment with the substitution of components, and listen to unheard signals running through the circuit. Knowledge acquired through this process will be applied to building circuits from scratch (oscillators, amplifiers, fuzztones, sequencers etc.), both from documented designs and as invented by yourselves. Video and audio playback and performance as relevant to the class projects. Readings from the required textbook, Handmade Electronic Music -- The Art of Hardware Hacking. Numerous projects to be completed in and out of class; final project based on course material.

Class Number

1448

Credits

3

Department

Sound

Area of Study

Digital Communication

Location

MacLean 521

Description

This online version of The Programming Sound class will feature an introduction to various synthesis methods, tracing the history of sound synthesis, starting with traditional analog synthesis techniques and methodologies, and then moving to a history of digital sound synthesis techniques. The class will review the histories surrounding sound synthesis, and students will learn various software and hardware techniques and pursue a number of creative projects. These projects will retrace the development of these important techniques and their aesthetic and compositional potential in a series of smaller creative projects, concluding with a more substantial final project. The class will make use of various software including Max/MSP as well as Ableton Live, and will feature various software synthesis plugins that will allow students to engage with the various techniques being discussed. Students are required to have a laptop that can run Max/Msp and Ableton Live, and a good set of headphones or a stereo monitoring system. Software licenses will be supplied to students who need them.

Prerequisites

Prerequisite: SOUND 2001.

Class Number

1727

Credits

3

Department

Sound

Area of Study

Art and Science

Location

MacLean 522

Description

Students pursue individual projects which are critiqued in class, with occasional individual meetings as needed. Discussions include aesthetics and history of sonic arts as relevant to the work students bring in, concepts of critical listening, and technical issues speciHcally related to student projects (but this is not a course in general studio technique). Active participation in all critiques is expected. Students will be given access to only those studios that they have already used in previous sound courses. Open to students working with sound in other media (Hlm/video, installation, performance, etc.), as well as with ?pure sound?. This class is an occasion for students with advanced sound skills to receive critique (and course credit) for their work. Examples of sound work by other artists, as well as readings, are brought in as prompted by issues in student work. Students should expect to produce a body of work consisting of 3-5 finished pieces during the semester. In addition, the professor may assign a few compositional or technical exercises.

Class Number

1446

Credits

3

Department

Sound

Location

MacLean 417

Graduate Projects

MFA 6009 Graduate Projects advising, an ongoing individual dialogue with a wide range of full-time and part-time faculty advisors, is at the heart of the MFA program at SAIC, encouraging interdisciplinary study across the curriculum. You are required to register for one MFA 6009 Graduate Projects advisor each semester, and we highly recommend you register for two.

In the registration process, you may elect to earn 3 or 6 hours of credit with each advisor. This option is designed to allow for maximum flexibility in designing your program. You can earn as few as 3 and as many as 6 credits with each advisor each semester, thus dedicating a maximum of 12 credit hours to your studio activity. The number of credits you earn has no correlation with the length or frequency of the advising sessions or to faculty assessment of student work.

The remainder of credits required for the full-time 15 credit hour load may include graduate seminars and academic or studio electives. MFA students are urged to take graduate seminars, and an introductory seminar in their department of admission is highly recommended. In addition, the MFA student may choose from all the art history, studio, and academic offerings across the curriculum (including undergraduate offerings above 3000 level) in any given semester to customize their degree experience.

Graduate Critiques

As one of the principle means of assessment each semester, you will be required to participate in Critique Week, a week-long schedule of critiques during which classes are suspended.

Fall semester critiques are organized by department with panels representing the discipline. This provides you with an opportunity to understand the department’s expectations, have your work reviewed from a disciplinary point of view, and to reiterate the expectations for graduate study.

Spring semester critiques are interdisciplinary, with panel members and students from across SAIC disciplines. Interdisciplinary critiques allow for a broad range of responses to your work, and are intended to assess the success of your work for a more general, albeit highly informed audience. Critique panels include faculty, visiting artists, and fellow graduate students.

Graduate Exhibition or Equivalent

At the conclusion of your studies, you will present work in the SAIC Graduate Thesis Exhibition, other end-of-year events at SAIC, or the Gene Siskel Film Center—or arrange with the graduate dean or division chair for an alternative thesis of equal professional quality. Each year more than 200 graduate students exhibit work, screen videos and films, and present time-based works, writings, and performance to a collective audience of 30,000 people.

Students wishing to install work around prevalent themes, strategies or stylistic affinities can participate in a juried and curated section of the SAIC Graduate Thesis Exhibition. A faculty and staff committee conducts extensive studio visits and as a collaborative project with student participants, organizes and installs the show in designated space at the exhibition.

Take the Next Step

Visit the graduate admissions website or contact the graduate admissions office at 312.629.6100, 800.232.7242 or gradmiss@saic.edu.