The Creative Consilience of computing and the arts at Yale promotes interaction and collaboration between the visual and performing arts (architecture, art, history of art, music, and theater studies) and computer science and information technology.
The initiative is aimed at both undergraduate and graduate education, and includes development of new courses, degree and research programs, and the development of an interdisciplinary community. The initiative integrate existing Yale strengths and resources that were previously difficult for students to benefit from fully. In addition to integrating computing across the arts at Yale, the initiative is designed to integrate undergraduate and graduate education, and experiences on campus at Yale and around the world.
The interaction of computer science and information technology in the arts is not new, of course. The C2 effort is distinguished from other efforts in at least four ways:
1. We aim to create new digital media and new forms of expression, in contrast to simply buying commercial software and applying it in the context of art. These new media are driven by the vision of artists and designers; span digital imagery, video and sound; and include the development of novel sensing and interactive devices as well as algorithms, languages, and software systems.
2. We use computer science and information processing techniques to better understand art history and the culture associated with art artifacts and artistic expression. This includes technical topics as diverse as geometric analysis of artifacts, visual simulations of past environments, and mathematical analyses of musical forms. Both an understanding of the process and the context of artifact production are studied, making use of Yale’s museum collections.
3. We address problems that arise in the development of tools for the design and production of physical products. This work includes numerical representations, algorithms, and software systems for architecture, theatre, and industrial design. Rather than focusing on the design of digital systems, we focus on computational tools for designs that reduce the dependence of products and structure on electronics and energy consumption.
4. Finally, we study foundational issues, using mathematics and theoretical computer science to study the “essence” of art – deep properties of artifacts as well as of the expression/creation process itself.
In addition to these distinguishing features, a key goal is to use computing in the arts as a means to develop students’ capacity for life-long learning. We plan a continued emphasis in both quantitative computing and the arts as students specialize in their upper-class years and in graduate school. Our goal is not to educate computer artists or digital musicians. Our goal is to educate computer scientists and artists who have an interest in and can draw on domains vastly different from their own. They will learn to respect and understand opinions, problem statements, and evaluations from widely disparate points of view.
For students in the arts, information technology manifests itself as software tools. Exposure to state-of-the-art tools prepares them for what they will find in the world when they leave academe. However, just treating tools as a black box, doesn’t prepare students for the future development of technology. In addition to interacting with today’s technology, the programs within the C2 initiative educate students in how the technology works, which relies on fundamental ideas in computer science, such as complexity, formal models, consistency, organization, efficiency and abstraction. These fundamental ideas that have guided development over the past fifty years will guide the future.
For students in computer science, as they enter their upper level and graduate programs the topical scope of their activities and interactions naturally must narrow. The experience of focusing on a subject in great depth is essential in their education. In developing this focus, however, many students lose or do not develop three essential skills that mark the most successful computer scientists: (1) the ability to identify and define significant new questions (2) the ability to approach a problem from multiple points of view, and (3) the ability to critically evaluate research results. By embedding computer science in a broader context of the arts, we seek to develop these important skills.
The research and educational activities of C2 are knit together with results of research projects introduced into courses, and with student course projects defined in the context of larger research efforts. The community of undergraduate, graduate, staff and faculty members involved in the initiative are brought together in events such as the C2 Distinguished Speaker series.