Crea­ti­ve Tech­no­lo­gies - stu­dy­ing at the inter­face of art and technology

What hap­pens when com­pu­ter sci­ence is brought tog­e­ther with art? Tech­no­lo­gy with crea­ti­vi­ty? How can soft­ware be imple­men­ted, unders­tood and per­cei­ved in an artis­ti­cal­ly valuable way? It is pre­cis­e­ly the­se limits that are being explo­red by the stu­dents of the Crea­ti­ve Tech­no­lo­gies Master’s pro­gram­me at the Film Uni­ver­si­ty Babels­berg KON­RAD WOLF. They have been inves­ti­ga­ting new cine­ma­tic inter­ac­tions that com­bi­ne tech­ni­cal tools with an artis­tic approach sin­ce 2016. The focus the­re is on com­ple­te­ly free expe­ri­men­ta­ti­on. At the same time, the stu­dents are able to bene­fit from their cour­se col­la­bo­ra­ting with other depart­ments such as Sound, Cine­ma­to­gra­phy, Ani­ma­ti­on, Editing, Direc­ting, Acting, Film Music or Set Design at the Film Uni­ver­si­ty, the only film school with uni­ver­si­ty sta­tus in Ger­ma­ny. This results in pro­jects that go far bey­ond the gen­re of film. Plants are made to speak, poet­ry beco­mes “tan­gi­ble”, vir­tu­al rea­li­ty for pets is con­side­red as a pos­si­bi­li­ty, or machi­ne lear­ning algo­rith­ms are developed. 

The mixed-rea­li­ty pro­jec­tion “Explo­ra­ti­on” by Mar­cel Brück­ner, for exam­p­le, turns the nor­mal per­cep­ti­on of space upsi­de down and incor­po­ra­tes the audi­ence as well as the actors into the action through site-spe­ci­fic pro­jec­tions. Such fil­mic pre­sen­ta­ti­ons like tho­se of the Crea­ti­ve Tech stu­dent have left the cine­ma screen far behind. New types of nar­ra­ti­ve forms emer­ge that focus on inter­ac­tion and expe­ri­ence, all the while making crea­ti­ve use of tech­no­lo­gy in new con­texts. Tech­ni­cal back­ground know­ledge is indis­pensable to be able to do this. The first year of the master’s, in par­ti­cu­lar, fea­tures semi­nars and lec­tures on Com­pu­ter Gra­phics, Audio, Crea­ti­ve Coding or Appli­ed Mathe­ma­tics. “Howe­ver, we don’t just aim at tea­ching the tech­ni­cal and film­ma­king skills, but also address intellec­tu­al depth and reflec­tion,” says Prof. Dr. Lena Gie­se­ke. She comes ori­gi­nal­ly from the field of com­pu­ter sci­ence and, in her role as Pro­fes­sor of Visu­al Media Tech­no­lo­gies, over­sees the brand new cour­se tog­e­ther with Prof. Dr. Ange­la Brenn­ecke. It is important for her that the tea­ching is accom­pa­nied by a foun­da­ti­on in huma­ni­ties. Phi­lo­so­phi­cal essays are as much a part of this as cur­rent sci­en­ti­fic papers or poli­ti­cal deba­tes are. The ide­as encoun­te­red are indis­pensable for the crea­ti­ve work. The lec­tu­re pro­gram­me is made up of three com­pon­ents: the tech­ni­cal­ly for­mal basics, the aca­de­mic aspect ack­now­led­ging and reflec­ting on the latest rese­arch fin­dings, and artis­tic explo­ra­ti­on. The second year of the master’s degree sees the prac­ti­cal focus coming into play. The appli­ca­ti­ons con­s­truc­ted by the stu­dents have dif­fe­rent focu­ses: ever­y­thing can be found here from digi­tal media art such as inter­ac­ti­ve faça­de pro­jec­tions through web pro­jects, indi­vi­du­al machi­ne con­s­truc­tions, and plat­forms for cogni­ti­ve lear­ning to tech­ni­cal nar­ra­ti­on and data visua­li­sa­ti­on. For exam­p­le, how can you tell the sto­ry of data? How do you make it easi­ly under­stan­da­ble? “How one mana­ges to achie­ve a uni­que artis­tic style is a real balan­cing act,” Gie­se­ke says. She is thril­led when some­thing is crea­ted that goes bey­ond prag­ma­tic pro­gramming and con­nects people.

“We train inter­di­sci­pli­na­ri­ans.” The cour­se is aimed at late­ral thin­kers. The stu­dents later also fol­low care­ers later on out­side of the film indus­try – in tho­se fields whe­re human skills, “thin­king in con­texts” and moving bet­ween disci­pli­nes are in demand along­side IT and media liter­acy. Most of the appli­cants alre­a­dy have a strong tech­ni­cal back­ground and the urge to app­ly their know­ledge crea­tively and artis­ti­cal­ly. Alt­hough a lar­ge pro­por­ti­on of them come from the field of media infor­ma­tics, media desi­gners, archi­tects and cogni­ti­ve sci­en­tists are also among tho­se applying.
“The­re isn’t that one spe­ci­fic stu­dent we are loo­king for.” 

The spe­cial exper­ti­se taught at the Film Uni­ver­si­ty, i.e. to tell sto­ries, is com­bi­ned in the Crea­ti­ve Tech­no­lo­gies cour­se with the goal of impar­ting know­ledge, expe­ri­men­ting and embar­king on the artis­tic explo­ra­ti­on of pos­si­ble appli­ca­ti­ons of tech­no­lo­gies that go far bey­ond the medi­um of film.

By Chris­ti­ne Lentz

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About MTH Blog

The media technologies of the future are already being used today – not only in the entertainment sector, but also in a wide variety of industries. Christine Lentz meets up with tech enthusiasts, established companies and researchers for our monthly MediaTech Hub Potsdam blog to tell the stories behind the innovative business models.