SFSU Conceptual Design

From Sally Applin
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"All things are possible, and encouraged."- Bryan Rogers and James Storey

Conceptual Design

Sally earned her Bachelor's degree from San Francisco State University, School of Fine Art, Department of Conceptual Design:

"Working within the Art Department at San Francisco State University, Dr. Bryan Rogers and Dr. James Storey created the Conceptual Design program in 1978. The pioneering program attempted to define a relevant education for artists in the technological era."

It was one of the first art programs in the United States to move beyond historical media and to try to engage the contemporary cultural context.

Storey was an inventor and product design researcher who worked in art education and Rogers was an artist who had a joint MFA and Ph.D. in Engineering from UC Berkeley. Rogers felt that most art programs clung to traditional formats that did not respond to the cultural foment of the scientific and technological worlds and to the innovations of art movements such as the conceptual, electronics, performance, and earth art, which challenged conventional notions.

The program had several important features:

1) Emphasis on ideas not media: (students were encouraged to work in whatever media served their agendas and to invent new media if necessary) Rigorous sequence of common core courses focused on processes and systems analysis. The sequence was stepped, growing more ambitious in its scope as students moved through the program

2) Attention focused on the latest developments both in art and science/technology

3) Use of geometry as a meta-language and skeleton for inquiries

Rogers went on to found the Studio for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon and to be Dean of the Art Department at the University of Michigan."

Conceptual and Information Arts

The Conceptual Design program at SFSU has now been renamed to Conceptual Information Arts or C.I.A. and was headed in recent years by Dr. Stephen Wilson

Conceptual/Information Arts (CIA) is the experimental program within the Art Department at San Francisco State University dedicated to preparing artists and media experimenters to work at the cutting edge of technology. Students learn contemporary digital production skills but they do so in the context of questioning the cultural context of technology and in experimenting with technologies not yet commercially available."

Core Concepts of CIA

"Conceptual/Information Arts is an area that continues to evolve. These differentiate Conceptual/Information Arts (CIA) from the customary intermedia, experimental arts approaches.

CIA emphasizes systematic and structured processes of inquiry as an underlying support to the experimental searching at the fringes of the art world. The area has stressed the integration of the rational and the intuitive. Students are expected to learn and use processes of planning and problem solving typical of disciplines outside the arts when appropriate.

CIA encourages students to supercede, question, and challenge traditional notions of what constitutes valid art media, contexts, and approaches. Students are encouraged to bring ideas, materials, and experiences from outside the art world to become focuses for their art. Students are challenged to combine traditional media and to incorporate new media. They are encouraged to follow their ideas and artistic impulses even if they don't take them into traditional validated art directions.

Contemporary science and technology are radically transforming the world. The culture desperately needs artists to address these developments. The program encourages students to become knowledgeable about world views, ideas, and tools of these fields and to incorporate them in a non-superficial way into their art making. Students are expected to achieve expertise in technological areas in which most artists only superficially venture.

Electronic technology and mediated information distribution seem on the surface value-free, but in fact, are causing major shifts in social interaction and the way we perceive ourselves and reality. Artworks generated through digital technology require some knowledge of strategies learned from semiotics, communications studies, and cultural theory for critically understanding technology's impact on culture.

CIA students are interested in art that could be categorized through a wide spectrum. The area supports students to pursue these types of inquiries. Some of the categories include: performance art, interactive events, public art, earthworks, art and architecture, installation, kinetics and robotics, video, intermedia, computer imaging, computer generated conceptual work, telecommunications, sound art, art and science, integration with other disciplines, art and language, conceptual art, guerrilla art, and hopefully activities that defy these categories."