If you have been lucky enough to visit Prague College recently, or attend one of its many events or exhibitions, you will know that this unique institution in the heart of the city prides itself in fostering genuine creativity and innovation among its students. And nowhere is that more evident than in the college’s School of Art & Design. Consisting of the two distinct programme areas of Graphic Design and Fine Art Experimental Media, the school offers a supportive environment in which professional career preparation and conceptual artistic development are cultivated side by side.
Just as in the college’s other schools – (Business and IT & Computing) – there is an emphasis on both practical skills and innovation. George Allen, who heads the school of Art & Design, is clear about his aim: “We strive to be at the forefront in creative arts education here in the Czech Republic, offering a highly personal, highly practical, and highly creative educational experience for our students. We aim to forge partnerships within the community as a way of making this possible. It is our ultimate goal that our graduates will be sufficiently equipped to leave school and meet the world boldly, and confidently empowered by their experience at Prague College.”
One of the most clear examples of the college’s unique offering is in the combination of visual, physical, auditory, kinetic, and new media arts education. These came together in traditional and unexpected ways at ‘Le Bang’, a recent Interactive Media ‘nano-festival’ of students’ work.
Programme leader Bethany Lacktorin explains: “Part of our programme includes interactive media – that is, artistic works which respond to a user’s actions, where technology makes use of data to achieve an end result. For example, a screen whose image changes depending on the proximity of the viewer, fed back by sensors.”
“A recent student project did exactly that,” she adds. “Their creative artwork was both visually stimulating and simultaneously an artistic commentary on crossing boundaries. Although interactive media is increasingly used in industry and business, the programme is more about personal exploration and expanding the realm of creative understanding, rather than, say, just producing an advertisement.”
Artist and lecturer Jorge Boehringer, who has taught sound and experimental media for several years at Prague College, helped to curate last weekend’s show: “These audio-visual performances and installations were the work of around thirty students in all, drawn from classes in Sound Production, Computer Interface Design, and New Technologies in Interactive Media. Their work was interactive and produced with real time systems, combining students’ self-authored vocabulary of imagery and sound to come up with new expressions and narratives. These are above all personal visions – all the expressiveness that might traditionally have gone into a painting, for example, is now re-imagined in contemporary, and often cutting-edge, digital media.”
During the weekend, the students presented live electronic music, audiovisual performances, and interactive installations. These performances and installations utilized a vast array of tools and approaches to achieve the personal vision of the artists involved – for example motion tracking with infrared light, ultrasonic, optical light, and sensors for sound analysis, as well as custom designed hybrid electronic music systems, sensor-controlled interactive 3D animation and sound installations, hacked video game technology and network performance tools – all developed within the pressurized time-frame of a single semester.
Pascal Silondi, a multimedia artist who teaches at the college and who in his spare time is director of LIBAT – a French centre for new and emerging technologies – was impressed with his students’ efforts: “It’s a pleasure to see generation after generation taking advantage of the lectures, the interdisciplinary workshops and other experimental laboratories that we’ve initiated in the last few years. They develop contemporary, alternative and sensitive artistic visions, using new technologies in fields like performing arts and interactive multimedia installations, with such creativity and enthusiasm: that’s really promising!”
If you missed the above events, there will be a chance to see even more experimental media in the forthcoming Prague College 2nd year Interactive Media show which runs from 10 to 12 February at Galerie Školská 28, Prague 1 (tel. +420 296 325 066).
If you would like to enrol for a BA (Hons) in Graphic Design or BA (Hons) in Fine Arts (Experimental Media) at Prague College, please contact email@example.com or visit the college website to find out more at www.praguecollege.cz. To see more examples of Prague College in action, please see their video channel at this Vimeo link.
Alex Went is Head of Communications at Prague College.