MA in Computational Media

The Computational Media track of the Master of Arts degree in Digital Art History/Computational Media is designed for graduate students focused on the study, creation, and use of digital media and computation in the arts and humanities. It is offered by the Department of Art, Art History and Visual Studies in partnership with the Information Science + Studies Program.

Computational Media explores research and presentation strategies enabled by the information sciences, new approaches to computational processes, and new forms of interpreting quantitative and qualitative data.  The goals of the program are for students to understand the critical affordances and potential of digital media, to develop competencies in data-driven and computational approaches to knowledge production, and to develop a hybrid theory-practice MA thesis that demonstrates their expertise in action around a particular subject.

Digital research and production methods undertaken in the program may include:

  • data driven analysis and visualization
  • interactive/relational database design and search methodologies
  • interactive publishing  and storytelling techniques
  • generative forms of text, visuals and music production
  • virtual and augmented reality systems and games
  • complex systems analysis
  • new approaches to interface exploration and design
  • physical computing and interactive systems development

    
The program’s skills-centered instruction, combined with the requirement for lab affiliation and collaborative research and the emphasis on theoretical analysis, will produce graduates who not only have hands-on know-how and technical skills but who have developed a sophisticated understanding of informational globalization and our rapidly changing world.

Program Sequence

The sequence for the Computational Media track of the MA in Digital Art History/Computational Media is three semesters plus a summer, and starts in the Fall term. Students begin the program by taking the theory/practice Proseminar, and at least one other designated media production/computational practice course, along with additional seminars and electives that fit their thesis project themes. Up to 6 graded credits can be advanced undergraduate course credits of Level 200-499, typically from the Sciences or Social Sciences curriculum to acquire the necessary competencies in areas such as Computer Science and Statistics.

Typical Program of Study

Year 1 Fall Year 1 Spring Year 1 Summer Year 2 Fall
MA Proseminar
Grad Seminar 1
Practice Course
Practicum Experience 1
MA Proseminar 2
Grad Seminar 2
Elective
Practicum Experience 2
Summer Research and Training Thesis Credit 1
Thesis Credit 2
Final Thesis Exhibition

MA Proseminar
The first semester MA Proseminar is a course required for both tracks of the MA in Digital Art History/Computational Media. The course focuses on theories and practices of digital humanities and computational media studies as they relate to historical and cultural analysis and research. The course typically also includes interested graduate students from around campus as well.

Practice Course
Students in this MA track may take existing AAHVS and ISS courses in Digital Humanities Practice, Historical and Cultural Visualization, Interface Design, and/or Computational Media, along with subject-area and technical electives relevant to their research topics, to fulfill this requirement. This might also include a relevant undergraduate course, by permission.

Core Seminars
Core seminars are relevant seminars taught by faculty in AAHVS. Students are expected to participate in at least two graduate seminars with AAHVS faculty as part of their graduate experience. Often but not always these will be seminars taught by faculty Lab directors. See also Sample Courses and the current Art, Art History and Visual Studies course listings.

Subject Area Electives
Subject area electives will vary based on the the thesis interests of thesis interests of the students involved.  These may include a wide variety of topics inside and outside AAHVS. Often courses listed or cross-listed in Information Science + Studies will be relevant. Students will selected these courses in consultation with their Faculty Advisor(s).

Lab Practicum Courses
The Lab Practicum experience is typically undertaken in a single Lab both semesters, though exceptions may occur. The Lab Director is either the thesis director or a core committee member, depending on the final research topic.
Students will also be expected to participate in relevant workshops offered by the various Labs and in the Libraries as recommended by their advisors. Technical areas explored in each lab may include:

Complex Systems Lab Physical Computing, Algorithmic Art and Programming
Duke Art, Law and Markets (DALMI) Lab Database Design, Visual and Quantitative Data Analysis
Digital Archeology (Dig@Lab) 3D Modeling, Virtual Reality, Interactive Exhibitions
Emergence Lab Generative Art and Music, Interface Design, Haptics, Installation Art; Digital Architecture
IS+S Lab Web Design, Mobile Applications, Augmented Reality, Virtual Worlds; 3D Printing
S-1 Lab Biosensors, Physical Computing, Speculative Interaction Design
Visualization and Interactive Systems Lab Data Mining, Network Analysis, Game Development
Wired! Lab for Digital Art History and Visual Culture 3D modeling, Photogrammetry, Digital Mapping, Museum Exhibitions
Digital Humanities (FHI and Libraries) Digital Publishing, Digital Archives, Text Analysis, Historical GIS, Social Media, Data Visualization

Summer Research
Students are expected to participate in independent summer research on their projects in pursuit of their degrees. In addition, summers can be an excellent time to develop technical skills further, as well as to participate in project-based internships and training on campus or in the community.

Thesis
The hybrid thesis is completed in the third semester, with research taking place over the summer preceding graduation.The thesis work will take place via two independent studies with appropriate faculty members— one theory-oriented class where a written thesis will be developed; and one practice-based class where a digital humanities and or media art oriented project will be developed with the Lab leader. The thesis committee should also include one additional member selected from inside or outside AAHVS, on approval.

The program typically culminates in a Thesis Exhibition/Presentation at the end of the Third Semester. In special cases, students may petition to complete their degrees either at the end of the summer, or after a fourth semester, for which they will be required to pay continuation fees.

— more information can be found at: https://sites.duke.edu/computationalmedia