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The Convergence of Technology and Art

By Stella-Marie Paradisis
When the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science meets the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia, the result can be quite interesting. It was from this seemingly odd combination that the DigitalImage/Sound and the Fine Arts program (DIS) was developed. This innovative hybrid program allows a student to have a core education in both Computer Science and the Fine Arts. Jessica Fernandez is working on a web-based project that teaches science to children through the use of databases, web servers and animation. The format of the program is similar to that of a game in which the children are presented with challenges that they must overcome as they acquire new knowledge in science. The aim of the game is to present children with an interactive, multi-dimensional way of learning. Jessica is responsible for one of the more crucial components of the game, the graphic overlay. She is collaborating with a team of computer science students who are working on the structure of the game software. The project is being supervised by Associate Dean, Dr. Terry Fancott. With over 15 years of experience in the industry, Dr. Michel-Charles Therrien, better known to his co-workers and students as Micha, has played a role as former DFAR chair, instructor and mentor to many ofhis students. Currently a lecturer, artistic and creative director for the Center for the Study of Learning and Performance (CSLP), Dr. Therrien has taken Fine Arts graduates under his wing to work for him as designers and 3D animators. Jennifer Chong, Benoit Danis, Francis Longpre and Mimi Zhou are working on projects such as a 3D animated alphabet on DVD developed for the Success for All Foundation in the US, the main objective of which is to help children learn. Their 30-second animation per letter could rival Disney animation any day, claims Therrien. Not many individuals can do these things. Other F A students have secured positions in companies such as, Toon Boom Technologies and CAE Industries Ltd. Current students are also getting first- hand experience in the field. Jonathan Joseph, a thirdyear student is presently working as an NSERC summer student in the Department of Computer Science, where he is developing an adaptive user interface for a multi-platform electronic game. When asked about DIS, Dr. Fancott could not place enough emphasis on the brilliance of the students in this ambitious program because, to be accepted as a DIS student, one must have both an impressive portfolio in the arts and a strong background in mathematics and sciences. As the Associate Dean so eloquently put it, If they were alive today, Raphal wouldnt qualify, and neither would Galileo. Only Leonardo da Vinci would have the two required qualifications!

Initiated in 1997, students in Digital Image/Sound and the Fine Arts (DIS) can graduate with either a Bachelor of /Baccalaureate in Computer Science or Fine Arts. This revolutionary program allows its students to bridge the conventional boundaries between the faculties, incorporating both creative and technical aspects of the disciplines. It also allows them to gain a greater understanding of the programming and design aspects of digital media and information technologies. The need for such a program that specializes in 3D modeling/animation, image works and soundscapes has become increasingly apparent in industry in recent years. Even more so, has the need for individuals with multi-level competencies which crosses the boundary between technical and artistic aspects of new media.