Art & Technology / Sound Practices Graduate Overview

Art & Technology / Sound Practices (AT/SP) is a place to explore, critique, and imagine the potentials of artistic production with technology, sound, or their unlimited hybrid forms through focused study and interdisciplinary exploration. Students build their own individual course of study guided by expert faculty. They can take advantage of a fully interdisciplinary pedagogy through courses, advisers, and seminars, or they can take a focused approach to specific media, disciplines, or topics in the AT/SP ecosystem. These include creative coding, sound art, VR and AR, experimental music, bio art, hardware hacking, synthesis, games, and many other topics. 

A World-Class Community of Faculty

The AT/SP faculty are visionary artists with national and international reputations who take an inclusive and critical approach to the technological and sonic arts. They encourage rigorous practice informed by robust research, iterative hands-on experimentation, and the interrogation of diverse histories, theories, and strategies.

In addition to the courses and seminars they teach, the faculty also act as graduate projects advisors, engaging in one-on-one tutorial dialogues with graduate students on their practice and their professional development. As such, they also act as mentors, bringing their real-world experience to their pedagogy. Meet our faculty.

Cutting-Edge Curriculum

The AT/SP curriculum provides advanced technical and conceptual learning in a critical and supportive environment. Seminars and critiques encourage open, revelatory, and rigorous dialogues among peers investigating histories, futures, theories, and practices in the technological and sonic arts. These are complemented by a continually evolving departmental workshop series connected to AT/SP labs and facilities and a wealth of advanced undergraduate studio courses that cover specific technologies, processes, or strategies within the AT/SP fields of study.

Entering graduate students take introductory seminars on technology and/or sound that form a critical and inclusive foundation for their studies and a cohesive community among their peers. They can then select other AT/SP classes that address the conceptual, technical, social, and theoretical complexities of studio practice in cutting-edge and retro technological and sonic arts contexts. The faculty's ongoing research and evolving practices lead them to conduct an ever-changing range of contemporary seminar topics. Recent topics include Anxious Media Ecologies; Art & Biotechnology; Out-Voicing; Philosophy of Technology; and Ears for Cinema. In addition, graduate students are encouraged to take seminars in other SAIC departments to gain a diverse range of perspectives on their practice.

Areas of Study

Artists’ explorations of the complex social, historical, cultural, and global dynamics involving our bodies, our senses, and technology are constantly evolving, and this is reflected in the wide range of topics that AT/SP embraces. Students can focus on any of these areas, or they can explore their hybrid interdisciplinary possibilities. In addition, AT/SP is one of the very few places in the world where one can engage in rigorous graduate-level study of sound in an interdisciplinary art school context.

    • Acoustic ecology
    • Analog and digital recording
    • Augmented and virtual realities
    • Bio art
    • Blockchain
    • Circuit bending
    • Creative coding
    • Electronic writing
    • Games
    • Hardware hacking
    • History and theory
    • Kinetics, electronics, and robotics
    • Improvisation
    • Installation
    • Instrument invention
    • Light
    • Machine learning
    • Multi-channel and spatialized sound
    • Music
    • Neon
    • Olfactory art
    • Performance
    • Phonography
    • Pneumatics
    • Poetics
    • Retrotech
    • Robotics
    • Sampling
    • Sound synthesis
    • Signal processing
    • Text-sound
    • Wearable computing

Graduate Projects

The cornerstone of every SAIC graduate studio program is its focus on Graduate Projects, a one-on-one tutorial model for 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 practice and research 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.

Opportunities for Students

A variety of opportunities for students exist beyond the curriculum, both on and off campus. 

  • 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 Art and Technology / Sound Studies 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 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.

  • Since 2018, the department 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 Ars Electronica initiative is an annual showcase of the most experimental work produced by this visionary department. Each year, graduate students are considered for this opportunity by an external curator working with the department. Click here to learn more.

  • The Alba Sonic Arts Residency is a three-month residency at Chicago’s Experimental Sound Studio (ESS) in which all of the organization’s resources and platforms are made available to a graduating MFA student from the Art and Technology / Sound Practices department. It is the only post-graduate sonic arts residency of its kind in the US, providing an opportunity for a graduate with a strong sonic arts focus to expand their skills and ideas in an artist-oriented and community-focused environment. The selected graduate receives a cash stipend and access to services and resources that include the ESS recording studios, sonic arts archives, gallery, garden, community partners, and off-site performance and exhibition sites, as well as professional development assistance with grant writing, project planning, and sustainability. The residency is purposefully open and flexible, allowing artists to work with ESS staff on an approach that best serves their artistic goals. The Alba Sonic Arts Residency is named after ESS co-founder Dawn (Alba) Mallozzi (1949–99) and promotes her longtime vision of ESS as a creative and developmental space for emerging artists. 

  • Chicago has a deep-rooted and highly active community of practitioners and venues for the technological and sonic arts, many with direct ties to SAIC’s faculty, staff, alumni, and students. Explore Chicago’s resources here.

Critique Week

Critique Week, one of the principal 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.

Take the Next Step

Graduate Programs Application Deadline: March 1

Apply to SAIC's Graduate and Post-Bacc programs by 3/1 for fall 2024 admission. APPLY

MFA in Studio Admissions Requirements 
Curriculum & Courses

Continue to explore the Art and Technology / Sound Practices 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 gradmiss@saic.edu.