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Nebraska Goes Big

Digital Arts Initiative helps students apply technology to the arts

Digital arts class

(left to right) Tony Nguyen, Jesse Kudron and Greg Florence in Assistant Professor of Composition and Digital Arts Damon Thomas Lee's digital audio class. Photo by Michael Reinmiller

By Kathe Andersen, Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts

The Digital Arts Initiative is a collaborative effort to provide interested students from all majors hands-on experience applying current technology to the arts.

"As digital artists, we all start with the same equipment — the computer," said Damon Thomas Lee, assistant professor of music composition and digital arts. "Then there is a kind of convergence of working practices because of the way our software tools are increasingly becoming more similar — film editing programs look much like music sequencers, for example. And so the languages and the interfaces that we use to access this information, whether they are for film or music or art, become intertwined and make possible both a richer vocabulary for dialogue across disciplines and a context for collaboration that is progressive and innovative."

Lee, along with assistant professors Jeff Thompson in the Department of Art and Art History and Steve Kolbe from the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film, teach classes such as Music Composition and Production, Digital Video Production, Animation, Digital Literacy (Static Image and Motion) and Digital Media in Art.

"The digital age requires that the university shape its existing courses with an eye toward the future. Digital arts are important because they offer the artist an infinite number of creative possibilities and a much easier way to put their thoughts into motion." - Michael Todd, a May journalism graduate

Tony Nguyen is a senior studio art major from Lincoln who has taken five digital arts classes in all three areas.

"All of the classes I've taken are so different from one another. It's open to the entire campus, and anyone from any major can participate in it," Nguyen said. "I've taken classes with students who major in anything from art to film to biology and English. Just to be in that kind of atmosphere with students with different perspectives is something beneficial and unique to the digital arts program."

Bryan Klopping is a studio art major from Omaha who has taken six digital arts classes in both art and music.

"The great thing about digital arts is that many of the courses point you in the right direction of what will fit the curriculum, but the students are left with a very open-ended assignment," Klopping said. "I took the course to build my knowledge of many kinds of software and methods of creating interesting art, but I got much more out of it."

Physics and math major Gabriel Richards from Huntingtown, Md., took classes in both digital audio production and composition and film scoring for music majors.

"Digital Arts courses allow all walks of life to participate in the world of music, appealing to most people in any number of senses," Richards said. "Some enjoy shaping sounds, others might like the equipment, and others may enjoy the science behind it. There's something in digital arts for almost everyone."

Motion class

Students in Assistant Professor Jeff Thompson's Digital Literacy: Motion class videotape objects for experimental video. Photo by Michael Reinmiller.