by Andrew Martin
On Wednesday, September 22, Johnson State College held its MARSapalooza event to kick off the grand opening of the school’s new Media Arts Research Studio (MARS). The event was held from 4-5 p.m. in the MARS lab on the first floor of JSC Library and Learning Center.
“The event went extraordinarily well,” said new JSC Assistant Professor of Digital Arts Sean Clute. He said there were approximately 75 people who attended the event. Among those in attendance were JSC President Barbara Murphy, a number of staff and students, and members of the Johnson community.
The MARSapalooza event began with a welcome to those in attendance, both from JSC staff who were present and from 21 different computer animated talking heads that were on the different computer screens. A great number of international artists also participated in the event though the use of video conferencing. Artists from California, New Mexico, Toronto, and Vienna used the video conference capability of the MARS lab to show examples of what the use of technology like that in the lab can achieve.
“The artists demonstrated the power of using new media coupled with how it can bridge communities across great physical distances,” said Clute. Along with the presentation by artists located off-campus, the grand opening also included actual physical presentations by two Johnson State College professors. Professors Sherlock Terry and Bethany Bond both teach digital arts classes at JSC and gave presentations at the MARSapalooza which displayed student work as well as their own personal projects.
According to Clute, the MARS lab will offer an “opportunity for students to enter an enigmatic space where they can discover, experiment, and construct the future…The lab will have tools that enable them (the students) to create their unique visions.” A part of Clute’s role with the new MARS lab will be to demonstrate and show the JSC students how to use their new lab.The MARS lab is equipped with a variety of state of the art technology, including a number of new iMac computers, different software, large format printers, video cameras, wacom (interactive pen displays) tablets, a projector, a new sound system, and much more. All of this technology will allow students to use the MARS in a number of ways, including making videos, sound, photos, animation, graphic design, motion graphics, interactive software, visual effects, presentation media, and many more.