Best of ICAM 2012

“For his senior project, Travis Thompson designed  a program that turns a person into a musical instrument. Standing before an audience at 12th annual “Best of ICAM” presentations at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), Thompson created electronic music simply by shifting the position of his limbs. Through camera tracking, these motions varied the pitch, rhythm, and quality of the music.”

Alright, the truth is: I wasn’t there. This year.

But I did graduate from the same university: UCSD; and from the same major: ICAM-Music (Interdisciplinary Computing and the Arts Major – Music emphasis). I graduated last year, and I was there at the Best of ICAM June 4th, 2011.

Same location, Calit2, where creativity and research coexists.

So let me tell you a little bit of what ICAM is about!

“The ICAM program is both a major and a minor within the Music and Visual Arts departments at UC San Diego.  Around two-dozen seniors were selected by faculty recommendation to present their senior projects earlier this month, either at the Mandeville Annex Gallery or on the media stage at Calit2.”

Computers have become a metamedium. Today, artists working with computers are expected to combine different media forms in their works, computers have become the unique tool for works ranging from animation, composition, music editing, design and print to digital artworks.

ICAM prepares the students with sufficient technical knowledge, abundant artistic exposure, and plenty of freedom in order that they can start their own creative projects, as wild and as free as your dreams allow them to be.

“The goals of the program are to prepare the next generation of artists who will be functioning in a computer-mediated culture; to give students necessary technical, theoretical and historical backgrounds so they can contribute to the development of new aesthetics for computer media; to prepare students to mediate between the worlds of computer science and technology, the arts, and the culture at large by being equally proficient with computing and cultural concepts; and to give students sufficient understanding of the trajectories of development in computing so they can anticipate and work with the emerging trends, rather than being locked in particular software currently available on the market.”

If you’re thinking, “examples?” Read on.

For example, this is a project done by Mars Rafto, who was particularly interested in the instrument gamalan. So he made a Gamalan-Tron, where he was able to turn the traditional instrument into a robot, and make the Gamalan-Tron play melody. How? Using Pd as the flexible computer software, the existing MIDI language as the communication method, and an arduino as the controller chip. I wasn’t able to record the performance, but it was just beautiful, musically and representationally, when he was able to perform alongside the gamalan-bot for us at the Best of ICAM 2011.


And I agree with how Tiffany Hopkins, a graduate of ICAM ’07, had put, “We’ll always be artists/musicians/scientists/businessmen [simultaneously]. This is what ICAM is about. Nobody has done this before — it’s new. And that’s amazing.”


Official ICAM’s page here under Visual Arts department.

Official ICAM’s page here under Music Department

Read about ICAM 2012 here.


More examples on the way!
91 / Joey Ma


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