Intermedia Department

Intermedia Program

Teaching Intermedia:
the introduction of media artist training in Hungary and its tasks

Intermedia undertakes to extend artist training to cover art forms and artistic techniques that had made their first appearance in the 20th century, such as photokinetic and electronic arts, multimedia art, installation, environment and action art, new communication technologies, interdisciplinarity and borderline areas of the plastic arts.
Beside developing a consciousness of the changing functions of art, Intermedia instruction aims to prepare students for an active and creative presence in the cultural spheres of the information society as well as to support and research cognitive artistic behaviour.
The Intermedia Department as well as Intermedia as a major of instruction had developed simultaneously with similar European undertakings while relying heavily on local circumstances. At the time of the program's commencement in 1990, the overwhelming local circumstance in Hungary (and in all of Central and Eastern Europe) was the unprecedented process of reprogramming and reshaping a bankrupt political and economic system into a working society. This process, fraught continuously with unforeseeable complications, was an interesting one from the perspective of art, as it required the development of the capacity for swift, unexpected activity as creative behaviour. Because of the extended authority of art, inter-media and inter-disciplinary skills are essential to manage the actual relationships between cultural traditions and novelties which usually come upon us out of the blue. The Intermedia program is a five-year artist training curriculum, built around the core ideas of the artistic use of the new media, the unity of theory and practice and a perspective which regards science, technology and art holistically. Which is to say, we are not advocating one artistic technique, genre or perspective over another, but attempt to interpret, teach and practice all directions in the frameworks of all other directions.
The Department which oversees and directs the work is a media research institution situated in the overlapping fields of science, art and technology - in the future, it will make accessible the latest technology for artistic use just as it makes available the "outgoing" technologies used in the interconnected studios, ones that by today may have become objects of media archaeology.
The Department was founded in 1990 and three years later, the program documentation was accepted for implementation. The university accepted the first applicants in 1993, so at the end of the five-year program, in 1998, the first media artist diplomas were issued to graduates.
The emergence of technological media in all walks of life brought about a fundamental change in the area of cultural/artistic work as well. Artists need new and different types of skills and knowledge to be able to fill their roles in a landscape dominated by the functional transformation of the arts demanded by society. Interactive and multimedia information delivery and display demand the simultaneous shaping of the form and content of information, since raw material from any disciplinary source must be turned into a comprehensible and properly structured audio-visual unity along a non-linear order. This is autonomous artistic activity because form provision requires not decorative, artsy mannerism but a deep and functional understanding of the content.
The Department and the program is in a constant state of flux, changing with the new challenges, with the artistic relevance of technological development and with the constantly shifting options available to artists.


The Intermedia program: instruction, syllabi, course list

The primary objective of the training is to enable students to realize the potential of their individual personalities so that they may develop an active and creative presence in the cultural spheres of the information society. The skill to be acquired is the simultaneous comprehension of the various techniques, tools, methods and functions of artistic expression and, within this sphere, the artistically significant practical application of one or more traditional techniques of the visual arts. Further skills to be acquired are the in-depth knowledge of such new technological media as photo, film, video and computers, with a view to applying them in a visual arts context. A fundamental requirement is familiarity with the history of universal and Hungarian culture, with special regard to the issues arising out of the art/technological advances of the previous century. Students should be able to pass on their knowledge as lecturers, workshop instructors, writers and to verbalize the essence of their activities.

Comprising of ten semesters over five years, instruction at the Intermedia program does not follow the traditional master-disciple model employed by the rest of the University since its foundation in the previous century, but adopted, from the very beginning, a near equivalent of the credit system. Since 1993, when students were first accepted into the program, instruction has been structured (viably so, as experience has shown) in the following way: students in the first four semesters will learn the technological fundamentals and carry out supervised workshop projects. In the following four semesters, students can elect instructors to guide them through a project-based, tutorial-like system. In the last two semesters, students will complete their diploma work.

The program offers specific courses in three general areas: general theory, professional theory and practice. What this means is that beyond the general course descriptions, the actual content of a course in a specific semester is given at the beginning of the semester in question. (For instance, the list of films screened at the history of film course offered as part of the General Media History subject may change from semester to semester, parallel courses may be launched, etc.) The general framework provides the objectives and requirements and thus can be set down permanently but the actual course content might not be repeated in five-year cycles, precisely because in the "life" of the various media, five years is a significant amount of time and certain knowledge and skills can become obsolete, while some may require years of dedicated and detailed study. (For instance, we could not offer courses in 1990 in graphical applications for use on the World Wide Web, while today it would be rather superfluous to teach Windows 3.1.) Thus, besides meeting minimum requirements, students can always extend and refresh their specific professional skills and knowledge.

The current basic program of five years (ten semesters) offers a media artist diploma. The three-year DLA sub-program is part of the general offering of the university. The introduction of post-gradual training and specific professional trainings are determined by the needs of the university.

Course division

I. Practical professional courses
(In each semester, professional training modules are attached to the courses below)

" Studio
" Creative analysis I-II
" Creating objects of art I-II
" Drawing I-II
" Video I-IV
" Photography I-II
" Photography practice I-II
" Traditional filmmaking
" History of computers
" Web design basics
" Programming I-II
" DTP basics I-II
" Multimedia I-II
" Creative computer workshop
" Artists' colony

II. Theoretical professional courses
(courses offered by the department)

" Theory of Technological Media
" General Media History
" The History and Theory of 20th-century Art
" Media History

III. Theoretical professional courses (courses offered by the university)

" Art History

The program requires the completion of a number of compulsory courses offered by the university which are developed and taught at the various departments. The following courses are suggested to students enrolled in the Intermedia program:

" Cultural History
" Cultural Perspectives
" Introduction to Contemporary Art
" Contemporary Hungarian Visual Arts
" Literature
" Architecture

Courses completed at other universities might be accepted for credit: students need to check with the department. Intermedia students who want to participate in teacher training must complete the Anatomy and Space Representations courses.

Intermedia - DLA sub-program

Currently, there is no independent doctoral program at the Intermedia Department, and the Intermedia DLA sub-program, offered for the third year now in a row, is part of the university-wide DLA program.

Department services, laboratories, studios:

Analogue and Digital Image Processing:
Video studio
Non-linear video editing
Digital image processing
Photography laboratory
Film editing laboratory

Network Communication:
Internet access and design
Multimedia workstations

Archive, documentation and other information platforms:
Departmental library to aid computer education
Video art archive
Departmental, Hungarian and international works (some 300 tapes)
CD-ROM collection
Student documentations, thesis works

On-line education material