Intersecting visual arts and computer science
September 18, 2019
Okanagan (Kelowna, BC)
PhD, School of Interactive Arts and Technology, Simon Fraser University
"We gauge students’ interest in the different roles needed in a creative team, in a collaborative environment."
UBC IS A PIONEER in teaching across disciplines. Its focus on integration is epitomized today by the fusion of teaching and learning in digital media arts, visual arts, computer science, social science and the humanities.
Mixing those disciplines, the Bachelor of Media Studies (BMS) program at UBC Okanagan gives students the opportunity to combine artistic, technical and analytical skills to understand new media and the impact of technology in society.
“This multidisciplinary degree trains students to be leaders in innovation and entrepreneurship,” says assistant professor Miles Thorogood, who’s helped design a program that involves courses in the computer science field, as well as creative arts, including design and visual arts.
“Students are able to work on projects where we find intersections between visual arts and computer science knowledge, which is unique to what the BMS program has to offer,” he says.
“Another thing we do is gauge students’ interest in the different roles needed in a creative team, in a collaborative environment.”
During their academic experience, students have the opportunity to experiment with ideas and technologies in a team-based environment. Student training allows them to contribute to innovative digital-media design and work with industry partners such as BC-based Bardel Entertainment Industries and Kinematic Soup, as well as Kelowna Museums.
Collaborations come in increasingly new and varied forms. For example, Kinematic Soup recently approached Thorogood to find a student who was able to understand the visual language of storytelling, along with sound-design skills, and scripting languages and coding. The work required someone to program camera movements and fly-throughs in 3-D video game environments.
UBCO students have worked with the Kelowna heritage museums in designing and developing engaging interactive museum exhibits. They created a large multi-touch surface that allowed museum visitors to explore different map views of geography and culture in the Okanagan. Students programmed the code, built the display unit, and created the graphic design for the different mapping layers.
“Working in collaborative teams on innovative, socially and economically relevant projects provides this great opportunity.”
Through lab work and practical work experience via the Co-op program, Media Studies blends practice, theory and research methodology, preparing students to navigate the emerging knowledge economy as specialists in the digital arts and digital industries.
“Students who have a keen interest in technology-based sciences and are open to critical thinking will develop skills for designing solutions to creative problems,” Thorogood says.
Media Studies is jointly offered by the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies and the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences.
TECHNOLOGY + CREATIVITY
Thorogood’s academic journey started at the Canberra Institute of Technology, in Australia, where he completed a program in contemporary music, experimenting with sound and creating music using technology.
There, Thorogood was introduced to Japanese noise artist Yosuno Tone and his process of removing the error checking circuit from CD players to play broken compact discs, creating an electronic sound that concentrates on the mistakes of digital media.
“That idea got me into thinking of technology and the creative practice and how those intersect,” he says.
That lead him to researching computational creativity, designing systems to support creative practitioners in production, involving the intersection of creative arts and computer science methodologies.
Thorogood completed his undergraduate degree at the Australian National University, in the Centre for Arts and Technology, his Masters in applied Arts from Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, and his PhD at Simon Fraser University.