Scheduled to open in fall 2023, the college’s new Immersive Media Studio — a focal point of a major new arts and technology project funded by a $500,000 grant from the Sherman Fairchild Foundation — will occupy a spot of choice at the center of campus.
And the placement of the studio is not a mistake; equipped with state-of-the-art sound, visual and multimedia technology, the studio is meant to be a magnet that draws everyone from scientists to playwrights into the collaboration.
Does a professor in the Department of Earth and Climate Sciences have an idea for a short course where a facility could raise sea levels and melt glaciers for observers? The plan is that they will be able to find both the training and the tools to do so in the IMStudio. So will the theater student who dreams of a career on Broadway and wants to make the leap into designing all-virtual productions.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for the arts at Bates, and the possibilities are endless. The teachers are already doing groundbreaking creative work, and this grant will allow them to do so much more.
Dean of Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs Malcolm Hill.
Coming to the first floor of the Coram Library, the IMStudio will serve as a tech-focused companion to the VizLab’s virtual reality and 3D hub down the hall.
The IMStudio will provide on-campus space for faculty to create immersive sound composition performances and installations, as well as multimedia installations that combine animation, sound, video projection, designed performance, drawing and media visuals, and the complex design of lighting, sound and projection. .
Students and teachers will create installations and performances within its walls. The Bates Arts Collaborative (BAC), which developed the grant proposal, envisions faculty and students – and guest artists in residence – booking the room for several weeks at a time so they can leave equipment and the hardware in place and learn the process and methods of immersive media.
The BAC has a multi-pronged approach to supporting students and faculty who engage in technology-enabled artistic practices and education. Named IMPACT 21st (Innovation, Media, Process, Arts, Collaboration, and Technology for the 21st century), the project aims to provide technology upgrades, including green technologies; bringing artists to campus to share their expertise; provide training to faculty on the use of new technological equipment and on the development of new courses; and support students who want to develop their own technology-based art projects.
Supported by the $500,000 grant over four years, IMPACT 21e seeks to raise the profile of college arts education in the long term, attract new faculty and students, create new ways to practice and learn, and realize the interdisciplinary potential of the arts and other programs. and departments on campus; and educate future leaders in the fields of film, audio, music and media production as well as the visual arts.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for the arts at Bates, and the possibilities are endless,” said Dean of Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs Malcolm Hill. “Teachers are already doing groundbreaking creative work, and this grant will allow them to do so much more. The Bates Arts Collaborative has put a lot of thought into this project, and what’s wonderful about one of the key needs they’ve highlighted, the concept of an immersive media studio, is a bonus for all of our faculty .
The renovation of the space at Coram is scheduled for the summer, but in the meantime there is work to be done, including getting the word out to stakeholders.
“One of the most important things is also to excite the community,” says Assistant Professor of Art and Visual Culture Carolina González Valencia, who sits on the BAC subcommittee that will manage grantmaking activities, using the coming months to plan the implementation of the proposal. .
“Part of that is showing them the possibilities of what this space can bring to the community. We know it can be a bit abstract for some units and people who aren’t necessarily into the arts. »
For subcommittee member Tim Dugan, assistant professor of theatre, the promise of IMPACT 21 is to create more connections between the arts and the campus as a whole. “In the arts, it’s really easy to stay in our little corner,” he says. “And so already, it fosters all kinds of ideas and possibilities.”
They are already bubbling for him. “It’s funny,” he said. “Acting and directing, I can do it with just a few blocks, you know? But thinking about IMStudio makes me want to do more cinema, to act on green screens, more dance partnerships. . »
Michael Reidy, Lecturer in Theater and Managing Director of Theater and Dance, Asha Tamirisa, Assistant Professor of Music, Jamie Watkins, Head of Digital Media Studio, and Rachel Wray, Senior Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations.