ART: RPI Graduate Program. Electronic Arts.

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Subject: Electronic Arts MFA program in US
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In the world of music and the visual arts, the development of
electronic technology is having a profound effect upon both the
form and content of new work. In the fields of video art, computer
imaging, animation, and computer music, the artist must cope
with constantly evolving tools. As the tools change, artists who
can adapt their concepts and skills to the new media are presented
with an ever more powerful, intelligent, and responsive
instrument with which to realize their artistic vision.

At Rensselaer, we see the development of the electronic media as
the opening of a new path for the creative visual artist and
composer. As the current interest in the concept of multimedia
illustrates, the use of closely related technologies in the creation
and manipulation of visual and musical materials has had the effect
of breaking down traditional disciplinary boundaries in the
artistic world. The similarities in tools, storage media, and basic
concepts of working with computers and electronics, brings a
certain unity to the traditionally separate disciplines which we
refer to as Electronic Arts. And on an aesthetic level the time-
based sense of structure and meaning, which applies to both
moving images and sounds, leads us to understand that the
electronic media are really becoming a single instrument: an
instrument with more dimensions and untapped potential than the
sum of their parts.

With a thorough grounding in the techniques of the electronic
media, and in the theory, aesthetic concepts, and history of the
field, the electronic artists of the twenty-first century will
explore the wide ranging expressive and creative possibilities
presented, provoked, and enabled by the swiftly expanding


In the Fall Semester of 1991, the Department of the Arts at
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute began offering a new course of
study leading to a Master of Fine Arts degree in Electronic Arts.
The MFA program is conceived as an electronic arts program in an
integrated artistic and technological environment. The program
offers the opportunity to gain expansive knowledge with computer
music, video art, computer imaging techniques, animation, and
performance. The curriculum stresses creative studio-based
work and emphasizes the unique problems presented by
performance and public presentation of these media. The
technological environment at Rensselaer affords ample
opportunity for individual research projects. Within the context
of an historical and critical overview of the electronic arts,
creative work for the degree culminates in a large scale thesis
project in the final year of study.


The nexus of creative work is the Integrated Electronic Arts at
Rensselaer (iEAR) Studios, which include state-of-the-art
facilities for:

computer music
video production/post-production
computer imaging & animation

In addition, qualified students in the MFA program may choose to
use their elective credits to explore the extensive technological
resources of Rensselaer. There are numerous opportunities to
engage in creative or research projects with students or faculty
from other departments and schools within the Institute. Students
may also elect to take traditional music and fine arts courses at the
Albany campus of the State University of New York, and at other
nearby schools such as Skidmore College and Benington College.


The MFA degree requires 60 credit hours of courses at Rensselaer,
including up to 9 credit hours of work on a Masters thesis, and
will generally take two to three years to complete. A complete list
of the courses offered through iEAR as part of the MFA program is
given at the end of this document.

The core of the program is independent creative work done in
consultation with a faculty mentor. During the first year, this
work is part of the Creative Seminar (46.691). In subsequent
semesters, creative work is done either as an advanced
Independent Study project (46.694), or as work on the Masters
thesis. Creative work can be in the form of musical compositions
and performances, video tapes and installations, performance art,
and computer generated or mediated images. The culmination of a
students work at Rensselaer is the thesis project, which is a
major artistic effort and may take the form of a full length
performance, installation, or exhibition.

All students are required to be fluent in the use of the various
media available in the iEAR Studios, including computer music,
video art, animation, and computer imaging technologies. All
students must either take introductory courses in each of these
fields or must demonstrate proficiency to the satisfaction of the
faculty. All students take Integrated Studio (46.611) which
focuses on aesthetic and technical problems of working with
multiple media.

Since the program is geared towards preparing students to become
active participants in the art and music communities, there is an
emphasis on practical aspects of production and presentation of
student work. All students are required to take at least three
semesters of Installation/Performance Workshop (46.690), in
which they participate in the organization and production of
weekly performances, exhibitions, and installations of student

The historical and critical aspect of the curriculum is covered in
two full year sequences: Electronic Arts Overview (46.651) in
the first year, and History and Criticism Seminar (46.653) in
the second year.

Minimum requirements for completion of the degree include:

All introductory studio courses (or equivalent previous
Integrated Studio
Electronic Arts Overview I & II
History & Criticism Seminar I & II
3 semesters of Installation/Performance Workshop
Creative Seminar I & II during the first year
advanced Independent Study projects each semester after
the first year, when not working on the thesis
Masters Thesis (3-9 credits)
A traditional music course for visual artists, and a visual
art course for musicians, unless they can show proficiency
and training in both realms

The Creative Seminar, advanced Independent Study projects, and
the Masters Thesis involve original creative work with regular
faculty critique.

A typical schedule for a student completing the degree in 2 years
might include the following:

FIRST SEMESTER (15 credits total)

2 of the following 3 studio courses 6 cr.
Computer Music Studio 46.601
Video Art Studio 46.602
Image Proc./Animation St. 46.603
Electronic Arts Overview I 46.651 3 cr.
Creative Seminar I 46.691 6 cr.

SECOND SEMESTER (15 credits total)

Integrated Studio 46.611 3 cr.
Electronic Arts Overview II 46.652 3 cr.
Creative Seminar II 46.692 6 cr.
Install/Performance Wkshop46.690 3 cr.

THIRD SEMESTER (15 credits total)

Adv. Independent Study Proj. 46.694 6 cr.
History & Criticism Sem. I 46.653 3 cr.
Install/Performance Wkshop46.690 3 cr.
Trad. music/art course 46.4 3 cr.

FOURTH SEMESTER (15 credits total)

Adv. Independent Study Proj. 46.694 3 cr.
Masters Thesis 46.699 6 cr.
History & Criticism Sem. II 46.654 3 cr.
Install/Performance Wkshop46.690 3 cr.


Branda Miller, Assoc. Prof. of Art; Recognized as a video artist,
editor, and for her work in media activism. She is involved with
Youth Empowerment Video Workshops in New York City and
Boston, and is currently writing a book on Critical Viewing in the
Media and Independent Production.

Richard Povall, Assist. Prof. of Music and Intermedia; MFA
(Composition and Recording Media), Center for Contemporary
Music, Mills College. Co-director of InCollusion, a performance
company involved in the experimental development of dance,
theatre, video, and computer music forms. Also active as an
independent composer and performer. His work is published
through Frog Peak Music and Frog Peak Video.

Miroslaw Rogala, Assist. Prof. of Electronic Media; MFA,
School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Video & Computer
Graphics); MFA, Academy of Fine Arts, Krakow (Painting).
Internationally recognized for his video and multimedia work,
Rogalas primary accomplishments have been video installation/
performances which incorporate synchronized multi-channel
video and electronic sound with live music, dance, and

Neil B. Rolnick, Director of Graduate Studies, Assoc. Prof. of
Music; PhD (Music Composition), University of California,
Berkeley. Active internationally as a composer and performer of
computer music. Recent compact disc releases on the Centaur,
Bridge and Nonesuch labels. Instrumental music published by
Galaxy Press/E.C.Schirmer.

Visiting faculty, academic year 1991-92: Kevin Daniel,
Visiting Assist. Prof. of Art; MFA, School of the Art Institute of
Chicago (Art and Technology) and Barton McLean, Lecturer in
Computer Music; Mus.D., Indiana University (Composition) MM,
Eastman School of Music (Music Theory). Performs
internationally with Priscilla McLean in the McLean Mix and has
taught here and at the University of Texas-Austin, among others.

Regular visiting faculty include: Joel Chadabe, Pauline Oliveros,
Richard Teitelbaum.


iEAR also produces the Electronic Arts Performance Series, now
moving into its tenth anniversary season in 1992/93. Over the
last decade, EAPS has presented some of the foremost artists in the
field of electronic and computer music, and video and computer
art. Artists presented have included: Alvin Lucier, Paul Lansky,
Robert Ashley, Pauline Oliveros, Woody Vasulka, and other
legendary figures. This years EAPS season instituted two new
activities: the Women in the Electronic Arts Series, and the
Emerging Composers in the Electronic Arts Series, presenting
Brenda Hutchinson and Lydia Ayers, and Mark Trayle and Henry
Gwiazda respectively. The season also saw the launch of The
Artist, Curator and Distributor: Contemporary Rles in
Experimental Media Seminar Series, featuring such art world
luminaries as John Hanhardt from the Whitney Museum, and such
artists as Shu Lea Cheang and Antonio Muntadas. This series is
curated by iEAR faculty member and video artist, Branda Miller.
1991/92 also saw the launch of Artist/Interact, a series of meet
the composer evenings held at RCCA: The Arts Center in downtown
Troy, home of the Rensselaer County Council for the Arts. This
was a specific attempt to bring Rensselaers visiting artists to the
downtown Troy community, and to encourage the Capital District
community at large to attend concerts on the Rensselaer campus.
Artist/Interact was limited in its success, and its format will
probably change, even though its goals will not. We are
particularly proud to have achieved this extraordinary growth in
the depth and breadth of our programming, with an accompanying
increase in the size of our audiences, in these times of shrinking
financial support.

The EAPS 10th Anniversary Concert season continues its tradition
of excellence and diversity by presenting composer/performer
Pamela Z from San Francisco; intermedia
artist/composer/theatre director Linda Mussmans Time& Space
Limited; musician/performance artist extraordinaire, Meredith
Monk, in residence at Rensselaer during 1992/93; computer
music pioneer Max Mathews; New York composer Amy Rubin, with
her electronic ensemble; and composer/cellist Jeffrey Krieger.
The iEAR Studios at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute continues to
be the only presenter in the Capital District consistently showing
the work of experimental composers to the public, and we believe
this upcoming season to be one of our finest to date. We intend to
continue to build our audiences by reaching out to the Capital
District through community-based events, not just in Troy, but in
Albany as well.


Admission is highly competitive, and the applicant is expected to
have completed a Bachelors degree and to display exceptional
ability in either musical composition or the visual arts. The
application procedure requires:

Transcripts of courses previously taken;

Two letters of recommendation from people who can comment
on the applicants artistic or musical training,
accomplishments, and potential;

A Background and Goals Statement describing the applicants
artistic and/or musical experience, reasons for wanting to
pursue an MFA degree in Electronic Arts, and long-term
artistic and professional goals; and

Submission of a portfolio of creative work, although
previous experience with electronic media is not a
requirement for acceptance into the program. The portfolio
may include documentation of work in any media. Please
send only copies or reproductions of your work since we
cannot be responsible for damage or loss of application
Painting, sculpture, and other visual arts may be
documented with color slides.
Musical composition may be documented with scores
and/or audio cassette recordings. Please put only one
piece on each cassette, and record on only one side of each
Video art, computer imaging, and performance works
may be submitted on video tape, either in U-matic, VHS,
or Hi8 formats.

Applicants requesting financial aid for the fall term should submit
the application and all supporting materials by February 1st to
ensure the best competitive position for awards. Later applicants
with strong credentials will be considered given aid availability.
Although the MFA does not require GRE scores, applicants who
wish to be considered for Rensselaer Scholar Fellowships should
plan to take the GRE General test.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute admits qualified students without
regard to sex, sexual preference, race, color, national or ethnic
origin, religion, age, marital status, or disability.

For further information on the graduate program in electronic
arts write to or call:
Laura Garrison
iEAR Studios
Darrin Communications Center
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Troy, NY 12180-3590
(518) 276-4778 (518) 276-4780 (fax)


Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is one of the
nations oldest engineering institutions. It has aggressive high-
technology programs such as the Center for Industrial Innovation,
the Center for Integrated Electronics, the Rensselaer Technology
Park, and the Rensselaer Design Research Center. The MFA in
Electronic Arts complements other innovative programs in
Rensselaers School of Humanities and Social Sciences which focus
on humanistic applications of technology.

The Rensselaer campus is located in New York States Capital
District, an area rich in history and alive to the present. Within
the immediate area are an excellent symphony orchestra and
professional repertory theater, one of the finest concert halls in
North America, the New York State Education Departments
Library and Museum, six other college campuses, and major
relics of the Industrial Revolution including several restored
locks of the original Erie Canal. Within an hours drive are the
summer residencies of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Boston
Symphony, the New York City Ballet, the Williamstown Theater,
and the Lake George Opera Festival, as well as summer and winter
recreational facilities of the Adirondack, Catskill, and Berkshire
mountains. New York City, Boston, and Montreal are within a few
hours travel by car, bus, or train.

Richard Povall == INTERNET: [email protected]
Asst. Prof. of Music == ([email protected] also valid)
iEAR Studios == BITNET: [email protected]
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute == Phone: 518/276-4784
Troy NY 12180-3590 == Fax: 518/276-4780

Please contact [email protected] or [email protected] for further
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