Apr 02, 2023  
Rensselaer Catalog 2017-2018 
Rensselaer Catalog 2017-2018 [Archived Catalog]


Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Schools & Departments

Department Head: Robert Nideffer

Director of Graduate Studies: Shawn Lawson

Department Home Page: http://www.arts.rpi.edu/

The Department of the Arts is dedicated to interdisciplinary creative research in electronic arts. It offers a unique environment to develop and realize innovative art within a technological university. The department offers three degree programs in Electronic Arts (EART): a Bachelor of Science, a Master’s of Fine Arts, and a Doctor of Philosophy. Offered jointly with the Department of Communication and Media is a B.S. in Electronic Media, Arts, and Communication (EMAC), and also offered are the following two interdisciplinary degrees: Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences (GSAS); and Information Technology and Web Science—Arts.  The Department offers minors in Electronic Arts, Music, and Studio Arts. These programs provide students with an opportunity to pursue a degree with a particular emphasis on the use of technology and an interdisciplinary approach to electronic arts.

Within this department, studio courses feature activities that stress creative and expressive development. Faculty encourage students to develop their perceptual sensitivity, as well as to build their confidence to apply creative exploration and problem-solving skills to a wide range of aesthetic challenges. In addition to a full complement of traditional disciplines, such as drawing, painting, sculpture, music, filmmaking, and performance, the department offers courses in electronic media, including digital video, computer imaging and animation, interactivity, multimedia installation, and computer music.  

Research Innovations and Initiatives

Arts department faculty members take varying approaches to the use of electronic media in artistic creation and performance. All are active artists/theoreticians whose works are represented internationally in museums, galleries, and performance venues.

Arts majors are required to become familiar with creative tools in a variety of electronic media and are encouraged to work with combinations of media. The center of such creative work is the Integrated Electronic Arts at Rensselaer (iEAR) Studios, which include professional quality facilities in electronic and computer music, digital video production and post production, computer imaging and animation, interactive media, installation art, and performance art. In addition, qualified students in the M.F.A. and Ph.D. programs may use elective credits to explore Rensselaer’s extensive technological resources. Opportunities to engage in creative or research projects with students or faculty from other departments or schools within the Institute are also possible.

Undergraduate Programs

At Rensselaer, the Department of the Arts offers bachelor’s degree programs in Electronic Arts (EART); Electronic Media, Arts, and Communication (EMAC); Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences (GSAS); and Information Technology and Web Science—Arts. Information and requirements specific to each program are described below. The Department offers minors in Electronic Arts, Music, and Studio Arts.  

Electronic Arts

Electronic Media, Arts, and Communication

Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences


Electronic Arts



Graduate Programs

At Rensselaer, the Department of the Arts offers an M.F.A. and a Ph.D. in Electronic Arts (EART).    

Electronic Arts M.F.A

Electronic Arts Ph.D.


The department offers credit-bearing ensembles that may be applied toward the music minor: Rensselaer Orchestra, Rensselaer Concert Choir, Roots of Africa Music Ensemble, Chamber Music Ensemble, and Ensemble Nonlinear. Many noncredit ensembles, dictated by student interest, are available on campus. Typical examples have included symphonic band, pep band, swing band, and vocal groups such as the Rensselyrics and the Rusty Pipes.

Visiting Artists Series

iEAR Presents!

The Department of the Arts supports the iEAR Presents! series, which brings leading artists, composers, performers, theorists, and curators to campus for performances, exhibitions, lectures, and workshops. All students are encouraged to attend the rich variety of events both on campus and in the Capital District area.

Course Descriptions

Courses related to all Arts curricula are described in the Course Descriptions section of this catalog under the department code ARTS.



Canier, C.—M.F.A. (Boston University); painting, drawing, and 2D design.

Century, M.—M.A. (University of California, Berkeley); new media history and theory, contemporary music performance, and innovation studies.

High, K.—M.A. (State University of New York at Buffalo, Center for Media Study): video art installation, film production and theory, bioart. 

Miller, B.—M.F.A. (New York University Graduate Film and Television Program); video art and media art.

Nideffer, R.—Ph.D. (University of California, Santa Barbara); net art, contemporary social theory, game culture, and technology.

EMPAC Affiliated Faculty and Professors of Practice

Knowles, E. A.—Ph.D. (State University of New York at Albany); African and Afro-Cuban music and dance.

Associate Professors

Bahn, C.—Ph.D. (Princeton University); computer music and interactive performance.

Chang, B.—M.F.A. (School of the Art Institute of Chicago); virtual reality, experimental games, interactive installation, and open source software.

Hahn, T.—Ph.D. (Wesleyan University); ethnomusicology, performance art, and dance.

Lawson, S.—M.F.A. (School of the Art Institute of Chicago); real-time graphics, interactive installation, and locative media.

Ruiz, K.—abd Ph.D. (Europäische Universität für Interdisziplinare Studien, EGS); interactive simulation, game studies, photography, and emerging multidisciplinary genres.

Staniszewski, M.—Ph.D. (Graduate School and University Center, City University of New York); modern and contemporary art, culture, and media history.

Vamos, I.—M.F.A. (University of California, San Diego); tactical media, video, film production, and theory.

Assistant Professors

Hamilton, R.—Ph.D. Computer-based Music Theory and Acoustics, M.A. Music, Science and Technology (Stanford University);composer, performer, researcher, and software designer.

Young, N.—D.M.A. (Columbia University), M.A. (McGill University); composer.


DeMaison, N.—Ph.D. (University of California, San Diego); composer and conductor.

Kielwagen, J.—M.F.A. Sculpture, M.A. History and Theory of Art (Michigan State University); multimedia art, performance art, social art, sculpture, and art history.

Meltz, N.—M.F.A. Art, (State University of New York at Albany); collage, printmaking, animation, and graphic arts.

Ragsdale, K.—M.F.A. (State University of New York at Albany); drawing, painting, sculpture, paper-craft, theatre lighting, and photography.

Ruzanka, S.—M.F.A. Art and Technology Studies (School of the Art Institute of Chicago); video, installation, performance, and virtual environments.

In Memoriam:

Oliveros, P.—Honorary Dr. of Arts (DeMontfort University, U.K.), Honorary Dr. of Music (University of Maryland; Mills College; University College Cork); music composition, electronic music, and improvisation.

* Departmental faculty listings are accurate as of the date generated for inclusion in this catalog. For the most up-to-date listing of faculty positions, including end-of-year promotions, please refer to the Faculty Roster section of this catalog, which is current as of the May 2017 Board of Trustees meeting.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Schools & Departments