[ISEA97] Institutional Presentation: Neil B. Rolnick – New Ideas in Electronic Arts Education At Rensselaer’s MAR Studios

Institutional Presentation Statement

The TEAR Studios at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has taken a unique approach to education in the electronic arts. Since 1991, we have offered an MFA in Electronic Arts which stresses integration of a variety of artistic disciplines, including computer music, video art, computer art, web art, performance and installation.Our model for this program has been to build an art school within Rensselaer’s out-standing technological environment. In 1996-97, in collaboration with the Institute’s Department of Language Literature & Communications, we began offering an undergraduate bachelor’s degree in Electronic Media, Arts and Communication (EMAC).This new degree combines iEAR’s approach to electronic arts as a multidisciplinary art practice, with a strong grounding in communications theory and practice.

This presentation will present a detailed description of the current state of evolution of the curriculum in the MFA pro¬gram, and of the electronic arts portion of the curriculum in the EMAC program. I will examine the underlying belief in the importance of an interdisciplinary education for artists who will be working the electronic tools of the 21st Century, I will also describe the differences in approaches used in designing the graduate and undergraduate programs, and show some examples of student work.The presentation will close with a discussion of the ongoing strategies which we have followed in purchasing and installing equipment for student use in these programs.

  • Neil B. Rolnick (U.S.A.) has been active as a composer and performer of computer music since the late 1970s. John Rockwell of the New York Times has said that Rolnick’s “vernacularly flavored electronic music is already known and admired. [His] pieces Macedonian AirDrumming, Vocal Chords and I Like It — all had pop elements but were really serious works of art. But fun serious works of art”. Kyle Gann of the Village Voice comments that “his music is state-of-the-art computer stuff, but Rolnick has good senses of humor and showmanship, and he’s never cold or inhuman”. Bob Doerschuk of Keyboard Magazine describes Rolnick as “among the brighter lights on the horizons of contempo­rary music”. His music is featured on ten records and com­pact discs, with an eleventh disk due to be released in early 1998 by Albany Records. His collaborative works with video artists and filmmakers have been shown internationally in museums, including the Whitney Museum and Museum of Modern Art in New York City. As an arts educator, Mr. Rolnick directs the lEAR Studios at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In this capacity he has been responsible for devel­oping a unique Master of Fine Arts program which offers a fresh and interdisciplinary approach to professional educa­tion for the electronic arts, including computer music, video, and computer imaging and animation.