Research and Creative Practice

Integrative Studies/Critical Theory

The integrative study of theory and criticism in conjunction with artistic production provides an essential part of the graduate program. To introduce ways of considering art in relationship to contemporary existence, all graduate students yearly take a minimum of one to two seminars in theory and critical studies. Study of primary texts provides an in-depth look at contemporary media and art discourse framed through a wide range of theoretical approaches: formalism, structuralism, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, Marxism, gender and queer studies, post-structuralism, deconstruction, issues of authorship, narratology, postcolonial theory and multiculturalism. In addition to the theory and criticism offerings within the Department of Art, students have access to course offerings throughout the university in related areas of study. These include challenging courses in the study of the History of Art and Architecture, Women’s Studies, Film Studies, Music, Sociology, Philosophy, Global Studies, Ethnic Studies, Comparative Literature, and other areas of interest.


Digital Media

Digital media arts emphasizes a strong transdisciplinary approach in Arts, Science and Technology collaborative research. Faculty in the Department of Art’s Digital Media area hold joint and affiliate appointments with The Media Arts & Technology graduate program in Visual/Spatial Arts (MAT). In addition to being linked to MAT’s affiliated faculty in Engineering, Computer Science and Music, the Department of Art is also collaborating with the English Department’s Digital Cultures’ and Transcriptions graduate research areas. The Digital Media area promotes the integration of theory and practice as a foundation for artistic research. This includes a meta-level analysis of digital media technologies; advanced skills in technological processes; a focus on the technological process as a source for research; digital media as a cultural practice; transdisciplinarity and hybridization. The area currently includes faculty engaged with specialization in networks, motion sensing and algorithmic visualization, transarchitecture and telecommunications, complex systems and systems theory, space art and related fields, tactical media practices, and interdisciplinary performance. Courses cover a range of topics from interactive installations to database aesthetics, networks & distributed systems, virtual and mixed realities, immersive environments, motion capture and sensing, telecommunications, digital sculpture, robotics, algorithmic aesthetics, visualization, tactical media and media theory, sensor/data fusion, and space art.


Print And Book Arts

Print provides an analysis of historic and contemporary uses of printing technologies and its diverse manifestations and forms of production from intaglio, lithographic and silkscreen printing to offset and digitally produced forms made for varied surfaces and purposes. This includes a concern for the individual print, the sequential use of pictorial information, typography, the combinations of image and text, the book as an expressive and informational vehicle, digital publications, printing and threedimensional forms, and accretive processes available for heterogenous formats. As one of the few university art programs in the country with an emphasis on issues specific to Book Arts, and with one of the best equipped hand papermaking labs on the West Coast, the concentration in Book Arts in the Department of Art and the College of Creative Studies encourages the exploration of graphic representation, understanding media and expanding the field of related knowledge.


Painting And Drawing

At the graduate level, painting and drawing are investigated and practiced in relation to the philosophic and technical aspects of the medium as well as through a thorough knowledge of the many ways in which they have been considered and practiced, both recently and historically. Exploration of these mediums in relation to theoretical and cross-disciplinary practices is therefore encouraged to enable students to understand and expand the definition of painting and drawing production in relation to other media, contemporary visual culture and its attendant discourse.


Spatial Arts

The spatial arts area supports advanced research, production and critical analysis in the expanding field of sculpture and related productions in space. The curriculum is designed to encourage the student’s individual development and awareness of conceptual and aesthetic issues of historic and contemporary relevance to the practice of working with three-dimensional forms within specific contexts. Special topic seminars address ongoing debates in contemporary art and theoretical practice as related to the study of space. Topics for investigation extend to: site-specificity, installation, intermedia and team collaboration, rapid prototyping technologies, immersive environments, architecture and a critical examination of public art and public spaces.



The program in photography promotes a strong conceptual and experimental approach to image generation. Photography is analyzed historically as a material technology in its vast role as a medium of reproduction and documentation. The integral relationship photography has to emergent digital technologies is also a signficant part of the discourse. Students are encouraged to engage photography in conjunction with other contemporary uses of media, including installation, assemblage, painting, performance, print, video and immersive digital environments.


Video and Animation

The multiple uses and applications of video and animation as a medium are explored in relationship to its contemporary and historic forms. This includes the applied use of video technology and software as an intimate probe for auto-investigation, documentary, and for experimental innovation. The function of video and animation as a medium for exhibition and its multiple forms of tele-visual presentations such as multi-screen environments, public screens, mobile display, installation, and projection of all kinds are also explored. Critical study of the video medium’s relationship to film, television, and other cultural production encourages student practice and engagement within a larger social dynamic, including domestic/global politics and popular culture.


Performative Studies

This area encompasses processes of performance which range from publicly spoken words to private operations and larger scale theater/performance intersections. An exploration of the expanded meaning of what is performed and the diverse possibilities of presentation and diffusion are engaged, which include investigations into the production and perception of electronically transmitted streams of material, combinatory uses of media and virtual and physical forms of engagement.


Digital Intermedia

As defined by an emphasis on digital image-making, cross-disciplinary studies in digital and hybrid media enjoy a dedicated computer lab (the mStudio) and affiliated courses throughout the department. Incorporating concerns of traditional areas of practice – photography, print, painting and drawing, in addition to video and animation (see below), digital intermedia uses digital and traditional means and attendant theory in the production of innovative projects for, or on, surfaces, including stand-alone images, installation, projection and display, print and electronic publishing.