postheadericon How to Create a Studio for Interrelated Media

This article describes the steps needed to create a learning environment for individuals interested in exploring idea-centered art-making, civic engagement, collaboration and cutting edge technology and science. Based on the original pedagogy developed by Harris Barron who founded the original Studio for Interrelated Media at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, MA in 1969.

1 Locate yourself within a community that boasts an intellectual research culture – to visit, to invite speakers from, for cross-registration, etc. (for example in Boston, the home of the original SIM program, there are hundreds of first class universities, research institutions, and other intellectual pools that offer an endless list of potential field trips and visiting scholars and artists to draw from.) 2 Find a dynamic and tireless group of artist educators who are available to meet regularly with a group of students that don’t fit into easily defined categories. This faculty should be idea-centered, protective of student interests, and deeply understanding of cross-disciplinary productivity. It is a plus if they are comfortable with the public perception that “they are not in control of their classroom”. This faculty will need the resources and skills to deliver a tremendous amount of individualized advising and to teach comprehensive classes in specific subjects. 3 You’ll need a meeting place that can accommodate all majors, staff, and faculty at the same time as well as smaller meeting places for more intimate conversation. You can also add studio space for audio/visual exploration by individuals or small groups. 4 Students will need access to a well-maintained collection of digital and analog audiovisual equipment ranging in vintage and complexity. Students should be able to take equipment off campus and keep it for a week of exploration. Clear user’s manuals should be included with each piece of equipment. Studio managers should be on hand for one-on-one training and troubleshooting with all the equipment. 5 Impose a requirement that students present their work/ideas for critique. 6 Now, start meeting every week for as long as possible. It’s important that these meetings include every student, faculty and staff, and everyone knows everyone’s name. 7 Allow these elements to simmer for as long as it takes for something to happen. As students share information, they will begin to prioritize agendas, identify challenges, and brainstorm actions. The students should be part of any decision-making related to schedules, curriculum, department management. As times passes, individuals will begin to make their ideas come to life while also collaborating with others simultaneously – each process informs the other.

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