Digital Arts and New Media: MFA: Collaboration, Innovation, Social Impact

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The Isaac Julien Studio Lab @ UC Santa Cruz

Film, Photography, Video Installation and Curating

with Isaac Julien and Mark Nash

Engaging a range of artistic disciplines, students in this lab will draw upon moving and still images to create visual and sonic languages for production, exhibition and installation. While the commercial imperative, in our digital age, has dictated built-in obsolescence as an integral character of electronic media, this project group, in contrast, will consider the archive as an intrinsic part of a creative method – sampling, remixing, and reproduction.

This project group invites artists who want to conceptualize, create, and exhibit works involving moving and still images. Ideal candidates will demonstrate prior experience in moving image or still media, and have some familiarity with critical theory. Candidates with experience of or interest in curating with the moving image are also encouraged to apply. One quarter will take place in London.

Isaac Julien, Distinguished Professor of the Arts, leads the IJ Lab together with Arts Professor Mark Nash. Julien and Nash have a long history of collaboration from Julien’s seminal film Looking for Langston  (1989), the establishment of the production company Normal Films, producing films like Juliens The Attendant (1993) and Frantz Fanon Black Skin White Mask (1995)  to more recent multi-screen installations such as Ten Thousand Waves (2010), the installation of which at MOMA NYC is shown here.

Julien’s work can be seen on his London studio website www.isaacjulien.com. The Lab at Santa Cruz is designed as a mirror for the London studio, a place from which moving image and photographic works are produced. One of the aims of the Arts Division at UC Santa Cruz is to focus on the artist as cultural entrepreneur, an artist who necessarily engages with the art world and art industry  to further their own practice, both as a way of developing their own aesthetic language as well as pursuing both commercial and cultural imperatives.

Students will have the opportunity to explore Julien’s work in depth, while at the same time learning about all the practical, critical and theoretical issues with which an artist of international stature such as Julien, has to engage.

Mark Nash is an established critic and curator; he edited the British film theory magazine Screen before embarking on film and art installation projects with Isaac Julien, and curating important international exhibitions such as Documenta 11 in 2002.

Both Nash and Julien’s practice engages the three pillars of the UCSC Academic Priority Areas: Digital Interventions, Justice in a Changing World and Earth Futures. For this inaugural iteration students are invited to propose a research project involving one or more of these key themes.

In the first year of this MFA students will attend classes which introduce key theoretical and  philosophical concepts and familiarize themselves with a range of practical new media related skills, particularly technologies of digital imaging.

Students will work in the lab in a number of ways to develop their own art and/or critical practice project. There will be courses/seminars both within the IJ Lab DANM as well as other Arts Division courses. They might include:

Digital Interventions - Isaac Julien’s film and installation practice; Practical Criticism - engaging with philosophical and cultural studies texts; Curating the Moving Image in collaboration with regional collections and galleries. Technical seminars/workshops - lighting camera/DOP; installation architecture - screens, sound profiles; multiple screen editing; technician aspects of installation.

In the Spring Semester of the first year the IJ Lab will run a study abroad programme at the Isaac Julien Studio Archive in London. Topics covered will deepen the knowledges already acquired in the previous two quarters at UC Santa Cruz. They will include Introduction to the IJ Studio Archive – archive theory and practice, Exhibitions and Photographic Production for both single and multiple screen installation. Research and Project Management; Editing and Post-Production; Curating.

At the end of the program students would expect to have acquired practical and theoretical skills to better prepare them for a career as practicing artists, researchers or curators. Most likely their thesis project could take the form of a moving image artwork installation. Particular emphasis on the course will be placed in fostering students’ ability to integrate research within their fine art practice, as well as develop appropriate modes of self-presentation.

Apply online via the UCSC Grad Division.

Image: Isaac Julien, Ten Thousand Waves (2010), nine-screen installation view, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2013-14