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For information about Covid-19 related research ramp up policies, see:

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Media Arts and Technology

Graduate Program

University of California Santa Barbara



Forbidden Grounds - Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and to Love the Noise


Ralf Baecker (*1977 Düsseldorf, Germany) is an artist working at the interface of art, science, and technology. Through installations and machines, Baecker explores the fundamental mechanisms of new media and technology. In his representations and spatializations of digital and technological processes, he offers a poetic sight behind the surfaces of contemporary image-making. At the core of his objects lies the entanglement of the virtual with the real, or rather, with the world. With a media-archaeological outlook, Ralf Baecker digs within obsolete devices for traces of functions and (power) structures that are still detectable in technologies today. His work seeks to form a hybrid between contemporary digital methodologies and a material-oriented artistic practice. As a result, he understands technology not as a tool but rather as an epistemological instrument to pose fundamental questions about a world perceived through technological impressions.

Baecker has been awarded multiple prizes and grants for his artistic work, including the grand prize of the Japan Media Art Festival in 2017, an honorary mention at the Prix Ars Electronica in 2012 and 2014, the second prize at the VIDA 14.0 Art & Artificial Life Award in Madrid, a working grant of the Stiftung Kunstfond Bonn, the Stiftung Niedersachsen work stipend for Media Art 2010 and the stipend of the Graduate School for the Arts from the University of the Arts in Berlin and the Einstein Foundation.

His work has been presented in international festivals and exhibitions, such as the International Triennial of New Media Art 2014 in Beijing, Künstlerhaus Wien, ZKM | Center for Art and New Media in Karlsruhe, Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin, WINZAVOD Center for Contemporary Art in Moscow, Laboral Centro de Arte in Gijón, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB), NTT InterCommunication Center in Tokyo, Kasseler Kunstverein and Malmö Konsthall.

Since 2016 he teaches at the University of the Arts Bremen as Professor for Experimental Design of New Technologies in the Digital Media program.

For more information about the MAT Seminar Series, go to:

This dissertation explores the ways in which media artworks depict agency and convey life-like qualities. This exploration is centered around the design and implementation of two interactive media artworks, HIVE (2016-2018) and Cacophonic Choir (2019-current), and makes use of a novel conceptual framework grounded in an approach to media arts practice that uses the notion of agency as a lens for examining and creating artworks. Starting with an inquiry into novel agent-based art practices that neither feature robotic nor virtual agents, the dissertation reevaluates the notion of agency in artistic contexts in light of the relatively recent establishment of sonic interaction design as a field in its own right and the renewed emphasis on materiality as the result of rapidly evolving digital design and fabrication technologies. To this end, I introduce Sonically Actuated Morphological Agent practice as an area of artistic practice that fuses digitally designed and fabricated artifacts, sonic expressions, and interactive behaviors in order to create ‘perceived’ life-like systems. In summary, this dissertation aims to expand upon the theoretical and conceptual underpinnings of interactive media arts via the products of my artistic practice, as well as theoretical discussions, design methods, principles, and strategies, all of which are distilled from this practice.

Past Events  


At this year's event, presentations were given by MAT professor JoAnn Kuchera-Morin, Director of the Allosphere Research Group at the University of California Santa Barbara, and MAT alumna Yoon Chung Han, an assistant professor in the Department of Design at San Jose State University.

Professor Kuchera-Morin's presentation was titled "Composing and Performing Complex Systems: From the Quantum to the Cosmological".

Professor Chung Han's presentation was titled "The Roads on Your Veins: Revealing Hidden Narratives in Human Veins and Visualizing Veins and Map Data Using Technology".

The 109th College Art Association's annual conference was held from February 10-13, 2021.

The event can be viewed here:

College Art Association 2021 conference


"Uncertain Facing" is a data-driven, interactive audiovisual installation that aims to represent the uncertainty of data points of which their positions in 3D space are estimated by machine learning techniques. It also tries to raise concerns about the possibility of the unintended use of machine learning with synthetic/fake data.



Photo: Jade Martinez-Pogue / Noozhawk

Located in La Cumbre Plaza at 120 South Hope Ave Suite F119, the museum creates a hands-free interactive experience that explores the next generation of media arts. The art pieces are primarily by local artists, including one by MAT students Xindi Kang and Rodney Duplessis titled "Oscilla", in which a person speaks into a microphone, and watches the frequencies of his or her voice displayed in multi-color on a large screen.

Read more about MSME in this Santa Barbara Noozhawk article.


EmissionControl2 is a granular sound synthesizer. The theory of granular synthesis is described in the book Microsound (Curtis Roads, 2001, MIT Press).

Released in October 2020, the new app was developed by a team consisting of Professor Curtis Roads acting as project manager, with software developers Jack Kilgore and Rodney Duplessis. Kilgore is a computer science major at UCSB. Duplessis is a PhD student in music composition at UCSB and is also pursuing an MS degree in Media Arts and Technology.

EmissionControl2 is free and open-source software available at:

The project was supported by a Faculty Research Grant from the UCSB Academic Senate.

Past News  


Exhibition Catalogs

End of Year Show

About MAT

Media Arts and Technology (MAT) at UCSB is a transdisciplinary graduate program that fuses emergent media, computer science, engineering, electronic music and digital art research, practice, production, and theory. Created by faculty in both the College of Engineering and the College of Letters and Science, MAT offers an unparalleled opportunity for working at the frontiers of art, science, and technology, where new art forms are born and new expressive media are invented.

In MAT, we seek to define and to create the future of media art and media technology. Our research explores the limits of what is possible in technologically sophisticated art and media, both from an artistic and an engineering viewpoint. Combining art, science, engineering, and theory, MAT graduate studies provide students with a combination of critical and technical tools that prepare them for leadership roles in artistic, engineering, production/direction, educational, and research contexts.

The program offers Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees in Media Arts and Technology. MAT students may focus on an area of emphasis (multimedia engineering, electronic music and sound design, or visual and spatial arts), but all students should strive to transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries and work with other students and faculty in collaborative, multidisciplinary research projects and courses.

Alumni Testimonials