June 1998 // Spotlight Site
School of Visual Arts Computer Arts Department
Note: This article was originally published in The Technology Source (http://ts.mivu.org/) as: "School of Visual Arts Computer Arts Department" The Technology Source, June 1998. Available online at http://ts.mivu.org/default.asp?show=article&id=1034. The article is reprinted here with permission of the publisher.

The School of Visual Arts (SVA) in downtown New York celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1997. Part of the innovative vision that has allowed the school to achieve its prominent status among art schools in such a relatively short period of time is its computer arts department. SVA was among the first schools to offer both B.F.A. and M.F.A. degrees in computer arts, and both of these programs have created highly original Web sites to provide information about their course offerings, faculty, and facilities, as well as to highlight the cutting-edge work their students are producing.

The B.F.A. program's homepage contains listings of the course offerings and curricular requirements of the undergraduate computer art department, as well as a listing of faculty members (many, if not most, of whom are practicing professional artists in addition to being instructors at the school). Additionally, the site contains information about lab facilities on campus, links to professional studios and publications, and a departmental Webzine entitled Club Sandwich. Finally (and perhaps most interestingly) the site contains a gallery of projects produced by some of the more than 200 undergraduate students enrolled in the program, a feature which gives a foretaste of the sort of work that can be expected from computer-based graphic artists in the coming years.

The M.F.A. program's homepage is similar in concept, although the listing of faculty members includes more detailed biographies and portfolios. Moreover, the student exhibition space is larger and more inclusive, housing graduate theses dating back to 1995, as well as a searchable catalogue of past projects, an experimental server that houses works in progress, and other graduate student projects. With a graduate enrollment of more than 100 students as of 1997, SVA has one of the largest and most notable M.F.A. programs in computer art in the country and the departmental homepage provides a first-hand look at some of the most talented artists working in the field.

Not only is the sort of work being done in the computer art program at SVA a relatively unique application of technology in higher education, it is also an example of the startling results that can be achieved through the combination of creativity and computers. The technological medium in which these artists (both students and teachers) work provides an example of the way tools can help stimulate creative thinking and allow for greater and different forms of expression. The two homepages featured here are an excellent starting point for both the computer novice and the adept to see the cutting edge of what technology can help accomplish.

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