New technologies have profoundly changed contemporary culture and inevitably altered the role of the arts in society. The Digital Arts and New Media MFA Program (DANM) serves as a center for the development and study of digital media and the cultures that they have helped create.
The DANM MFA Program is a two year program. In the first year, students will generally take three courses each term—one course in each of the program areas, New Praxis, Studies, and Collaborative Research. In the second year, students primarily take elective courses, work with their thesis committees, and pursue independent and directed research leading to the completion of the thesis project and paper.
DANM is a dynamic and highly productive center for artists — graduate students and faculty — who collaborate with scientists, humanists, and engineers from all segments of the university. DANM is a partner within UCSC’s Center for Games and Playable Media, and the graduate level game programs at UCSC have consistently been rated among the top programs in the country.
The DANM program is housed in the new Digital Arts Research Center, a 25,000 square foot building overlooking the Monterey Bay. Our state-of-the-art facilities include a black box theater, technical control booth, gallery, rapid prototyping lab and electronics lab. Students have access to 3D printers, a laser cutter, a CNC milling machine, drill presses, power tools, a fully-equipped electronics workbench, a metal shop, woodshop and digital printing lab. The program owns a vast inventory of technical equipment available for students to borrow. The collection features professional video and audio production equipment, computers, mobile devices, video projectors, an EEG headset, a 3D scanner, a quadcopter, and more.
DANM makes a strong effort to help its students put together the support they need, including guaranteed teaching assistantships for the first year. Additional support may be available in the form of grants and fellowships, graduate student researchships or additional teaching assistantships; some are awarded based on need, others on academic merit. Graduate students are encouraged to apply for both.
The campus is located among redwood forests and meadows overlooking Monterey Bay, along California’s Central Coast in close proximity to Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area. Santa Cruz has a well-deserved reputation as a gathering ground for rogue intellectuals, political activists, trailblazing artists, and foodies concerned with sustainability and organics. Like the city of Santa Cruz, UCSC is dedicated to matters of environmental responsibility, social justice, and the value of art.
Prospective students in the Digital Arts and New Media program will have a foundation in the arts with some demonstrated interest in technology or a foundation in technology with demonstrated background in the arts.
Mechatronics is the functional integration of mechanical, electronic, and information technologies. In DANM this framework may be employed for the development and production of physical, systems-based artwork that incorporates elements of robotics, motion control, software engineering, and hardware design. DANM Mechatronics research involves the use of a variety of media including video, performance, and sculpture, for the creation of complex, kinetic, audio-visual systems for the exploration of temporality, materiality, experience, perception.
Research in Performative Technologies explores new methods for combining media and technology to create the visual, aural and connective material of performance. DANM performance research generates new public and performative spaces where digital media, communication networks, and interactive systems may be fused with lighting, movement, stage and sound design to create real-time shared multimedia experiences for audiences and performers at both local and remote locations.
Participatory Culture studies and research efforts explore the role of information and communication technologies in the current shift from “top-down” culture to a culture of participation and social engagement. Within the social register the human/computer interface acts as both a boundary and a bridge. Participatory Culture research in DANM encompasses a range of projects in social computing, community-media activism, which involve the design of new technologies to address social problems and facilitate broader participation in culture and politics.
Playable Media research explores the potential of computational systems for the creation of new media forms that invite and structure play. This group works to understand and create new ways for computer games and related forms to engage audiences, make arguments, tell stories, and shape social space. Ongoing Playable Media work combines game design and artificial intelligence research with writing, art, and media authoring.
DANM brings together a unique group of highly dedicated professional artists and scholars, innovators in the field of digital arts and new media. Our faculty includes professors from disciplines as diverse as Engineering (Computer Science, Computational Media), Science (Physics, Astrophysics, Mathematics,) Humanities (Women’s Studies, Anthropology, Literature), and Arts (Film and Digital Media, Theater Arts, Music, Art, and the History of Art and Visual Culture).
Thesis Project Interviews & Video Documentation