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The Digital/Mural Lab is a unique research and teaching facility, bringing state-of-the-art computer technology to the production of community-based art. Led by Professor Judith F. Baca, UCLA students collaborate with community members to create public art for public settings.
UCLA@SPARC Digital/Mural Lab:
• Combines art with issues of social policy, historical investigation and academic research
• Teaches both theory and practice of muralism as an aesthetic tool for cultural representation
• Teaches collaborative processes inherent to community activism & organizing
• Teaches state of the art digital imaging techniques and continuously develops innovative art education curriculum for k-12 youth engagement with UCLA undergraduate and graduate students.
• Develops new techniques for combining traditional mural painting techniques with computer generated imagery
• Collaborates with local, national and international communities to create public art expressing the concerns of diverse communities
• Innovates new techniques in visualization and presentation of public art through 3d and video virtual presentations
• Innovates methods for collaboration across distance with artist and community members on community based artworks through the internet
• Develops new methods of preservation and restoration for mural art through the use of digital prints on new substrates
• Engages students in critical analysis of policy issues related to public art, community advocacy & empowerment
• Hosts visiting artists and international visitors
Defining characteristics of the D/ML are:
1) Activist and problem solving, 2) Project based and product driven, 3) Learner centered, 4) Collaborative and 5) Interdisciplinary.
Since 1996 the UCLA@SPARC Digital/Mural Lab has been located at the Social and Public Art Resource Center, (SPARC), a Los Angeles historical landmark, in the old Venice Police Station’s art deco building 15 minutes from campus. UCLA’s community partner in the lab, SPARC has over a thirty year period, sponsored much of Los Angeles rich legacy of murals citywide. This non-profit art/art educational organization houses the largest mural archive in the world, as well as, a public art gallery, mural painting studio, printmaking, photography facilities as well as a digital lab for local high school students.
The Digital/Mural Lab offers UCLA students from multiple disciplines and majors the opportunity to work in a community setting to create public art projects in Los Angeles through the use of state-of-the art digital technology.
All work takes place in the context of critical philosophical and analytical dialogues on contemporary issues. Through service-based learning projects students are enabled to work in interdisciplinary collaborative teams in researching various academic subjects and community issues to develop skills for the actualization of public monuments in Los Angeles. For example, art students may focus on imagery development, public policy students on policy research, while history students may focus on historical research for the development of image content, all within a context of the development of visual literacy required for the monument.
Students have the access to a unique combination of tools within the Digital/Mural Lab facility. Software utilized for teaching includes, professional graphic design programs: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Corel Painter. With more recent emphasis on video production and 3D visualizations the Digital Mural Lab is fully equipped with Apple Final Cut Pro, DVD Studio Pro, ProTools, and AutoDesk Maya software packages. The hosts Internal Web, File and email servers to create an environment that is highly flexible and customizable for creative projects.
A traditional art-painting studio is available allowing seamless and effortless transition between computer generated and hand painted imagery. The Digital/Mural Lab is equipped with two large-scale printers. As a research facility the Digital/Mural Lab develops new techniques for combining traditional murals painting techniques with computer generated imagery.