The convergence of electronic art, media, and technology is transforming our society. The university of the 21st century must respond to these changes with a fresh approach to foster mastery in the disciplines of the future. Educational institutions will need academicians who are trained in media arts and media technology. Burgeoning media industries have a growing need for capable media practitioners: programmers, engineers, designers, directors, producers, artists, and composers. Effectively engaging in this form of cultural production demands students with an understanding of not only how to build and use tools for creating new media, but how to think critically and strategically about the productive processes in which they are involved.
The Media Arts and Technology (MAT) Graduate Program is a unique transdisciplinary graduate degree program that offers the Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees in Media Arts and Technology. The program, which is jointly administered by the College of Engineering and the College of Letters and Science, serves as a focal point for education, research, and artistic production in digital media, with special emphases in visual and spatial arts, electronic music and sound design, and multimedia engineering. The curriculum provides for an interdisciplinary experience, building on a core set of skills and knowledge, with an emphasis on research and collaboration in digital media systems, content, and interaction. In addition to the interdisciplinary breadth of the program, each MAT student focuses on an area of emphasis, according to background and career interests.
MAT is designed to provide students with knowledge and skills relevant to careers in digital media-related research and in artistic and technical positions in the media industries of the 21st century. It fosters aesthetically trained engineers - the media technology inventors of the future. It trains electronic media artists who can work with a high degree of aesthetic and technical sophistication to enrich and enlarge our cultural heritage. It prepares thinkers for advanced studies in media technology, leading toward academic careers in this discipline.
MAT research interests include: transarchitectures and worldmaking, virtual and mixed realities, visualization, intelligent space and interactive/transactive installations, electronic and generative music synthesis, multi-channel spatialized sound, human-computer interaction, motion-capture and distributed sensing, digital signal processing, wireless broadband, algorithmic morphogenesis, digital sculpture and robotics, and more. The relationship of present to future media is of particular interest, especially as it relates to nanotechnology, biotechnology, new materials, and new fabrication methods. MAT has significant relationships with the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI), the Center for Research in Electronic Art Technology (CREATE), and several UCSB departments, especially Art, Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Music.
The program is intended for students who are interested in both arts and technology and have a strong background in at least one area (for example, in visual arts, music, computer science, or electrical and computer engineering). Prospective students should be ambitious and curious about interdisciplinary research and intermedia art and should be interested in working with others on projects covering multiple areas of expertise.
Media Arts and Technology began in the Fall of 1999, the result of years of planning for a new graduate program, and it started with participation from four departments at UCSB: Art, Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Music. MAT is fundamentally interdisciplinary; most of the faculty have joint appointments with one of the four original partner departments. MAT spans both the College of Letters and Sciences (the Humanities and Fine Arts Division) and the College of Engineering. Officially known as the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Media Arts and Technology, MAT functions as a department (it has its own faculty, students, and administration, it grants degrees, etc.) so we interchangeably refer to it as a program or a department.
Offering Master's degrees since 1999, MAT began to offer a Ph.D. degree in 2005. In Fall 2008, there were about 40 MAT students, with roughly equal numbers pursuing Master's and Ph.D. degrees.
Also in 2005, most of MAT moved into a new building on the UCSB campus, built for the new California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI). This space includes several new labs of various sizes and the "crown jewel" lab, the Allosphere. Our move to the CNSI building and the creation of the Allosphere have enabled MAT to become involved with a variety of scientific areas and projects, and the future of MAT will certainly include compelling collaborations with nanoscientists, neuroscientists, biochemists, geoscientists, and others.
Professor JoAnn Kuchera-Morin was the founder of the MAT graduate program, and served as Chair from 1999 until 2005. Professor Matthew Turk served as Chair from 2005 until 2010. Professor Curtis Roads assumed the role as Chair from 2010 until 2013, followed by Professor George Legrady, serving as chair from 2013 until 2017. Professor Marko Peljhan serves as Chair today.
Media Arts and Technology is located in two locations on campus. Most of the MAT faculty have offices and labs on the second floor of Elings Hall. At present, most of the staff is on the third floor of Phelps Hall. There are also work spaces for MAT students in Elings Hall. Other MAT-related labs are in various locations throughout the campus.
The mission of Media Arts and Technology is to be a world leader in the interdisciplinary field of media arts and technology through our programs of graduate education, our research and creative activities, and our professional leadership and service. We are committed to excellence in the contributions of our faculty, staff, and students. We are committed to helping graduate students reach their full potential by providing a rich and supportive learning environment in which to impart the necessary knowledge and skills required to excel in their future work. We are committed to developing a program that is recognized nationally and internationally for the excellence of its education and research and for the high quality of its graduates. We are committed to creating an environment that promotes innovative thinking, values mutual respect and diversity, encourages and supports scholarship, and engenders lifelong learning.