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

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Irene Gustafson

Associate Professor
Film and Digital Media
Research Interests: 

Irene Gustafson’s research interests are located very broadly within visual culture studies with an emphasis on film/video theory and production. Her specific areas of research are: non-fiction film/video, experimental film/video, and queer and sexuality studies. A more over-arching description of her work, though, must include a central focus on questions of methodology: what it means to produce across the boundaries between “theory” and “practice.” One could argue that “theory” and “practice” are more related then we ever really acknowledge. Historically critical practices have always been informed by creative practices and creative practices have always been shaped by critical ones. And, of course, on a very basic level it is clear that intellectual work requires creativity and creativity is a form of intellectual work. The connections between theory and practice are not new. What is new, perhaps, is the acknowledgement that these terms of distinction, of difference, have had a profound impact on our definitions of what it means to produce creative or critical work and on what that work might look like or sound like. In Gustafson’s case, these issues are at the forefront of her work and have directly guided her research, teaching and service.
One focus of Gustafson’s current research is “screen testing” as an aesthetic mode and form or knowledge production. Her interest in the “screen test” is primarily an interest in the dynamics of testing, the structures and processes of asking questions and producing answers and how these processes and structures are manifested or formalized via a camera. At its grandest, this project is a kind of philosophical investigation of the relationship between vision and knowledge. In its specificity it aims to produce a history of screen testing in its various contexts and incarnations. This research takes the form of a series of videos, curation, historical research, and critical writing.