UCLA DMA — MFA in Media Arts

MFA in Media Arts

The Master of Fine Arts in Media Arts is a rigorous two-year program that focuses on each individual's personal and creative development within the context of media arts. Artists from diverse backgrounds including the visual arts, sciences, and engineering are encouraged to apply.
Kian-Peng Ong, Flood Helmet. 2009
Refik Anadol, Liminality. Collaboration with Kian-Peng Ong. Los Angeles, CA, 2013
Su Hyun Kim, DNA for Songs
Nicholas Hanna, Bubble Device. 2013

MFA students are exposed to new ways of thinking and making through skills and theory courses taken in tandem with individual meetings with faculty members and group critique sessions in the first year. The second year is devoted to the thesis — defining, exploring, and producing work in the studio along with one-on-one tutorials with faculty and group critiques.
Tyler Stefanich, The Auditory Equity Interpreter. 2010
Phoebe Hui, Granular Graph. 2012
Matthias Dörfelt, Weird Faces Vending Machine. Paper.js, Arduino, c++. 2013
Chris Reilly, Linguaphone of Tremulous Communion. Wood, metal. 12in x 6in x 3in. 2011

Each student works toward an individual thesis project that incorporates research and theoretical exploration of a topic of their choice, with the goal of producing a refined body of work that culminates in an MFA exhibition.

What is Media Art?

Media art can be broadly defined as “... art that is made using electronic media technology and that displays any or all of the three behaviours of interactivity, connectivity and computability, in any combination.” (Sarah Cook & Beryl Graham, Rethinking Curating: Art After New Media, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2010)

Review the growing literature on media arts to familiarize yourself with media art history, and various media artists and their practices:

New Media Art

—Mark Tribe

This book addresses New Media art as a specific art historical movement, focusing not only on technologies and forms but also on thematic content and conceptual strategies. New Media art often involves appropriation, collaboration, and the free sharing of ideas and expressions, and frequently addresses the political ramifications of technology around issues of identity, commercialization, privacy, and the public domain.

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New Media: A Critical Introduction

—Martin Lister

New Media: A Critical Introduction is a comprehensive introduction to the culture, history, technologies and theories of new media. Written especially for students, the book considers the ways in which 'new media' really are new, assesses the claims that a media and technological revolution has taken place and formulates new ways for media studies to respond to new technologies.

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Database Aesthetics: Art in the Age of Information Overflow

—Victoria Vesna

Database Aesthetics examines the database as cultural and aesthetic form, explaining how artists have participated in network culture by creating data art. The essays in this collection look at how an aesthetic emerges when artists use the vast amounts of available information as their medium. Here, the ways information is ordered and organized become artistic choices, and artists have an essential role in influencing and critiquing the digitization of daily life.

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Snap to Grid: A User's Guide to Digital Arts, Media, and Cultures

—Peter Lunenfeld

In Snap to Grid, an idiosyncratic guide to the interactive, telematic era, Peter Lunenfeld maps out the trajectories that digital technologies have traced upon our cultural imaginary. His clear-eyed evaluation of new media includes an impassioned discussion--informed by the discourses of technology, aesthetics, and cultural theory--of the digital artists, designers, and makers who matter most.

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—Oliver Grau

Digital art has become a major contemporary art form, but it has yet to achieve acceptance from mainstream cultural institutions; it is rarely collected, and seldom included in the study of art history or other academic disciplines. In MediaArtHistories, leading scholars seek to change this. They take a wider view of media art, placing it against the backdrop of art history.

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Internet Art (World of Art)

—Rachel Greene

Covering email art, Web sites, artist-designed software, and projects that blur the boundaries between art and design, product development, political activism, and communication, InternetArt shows how artists have employed online technologies to engage with the traditions of art history, to create new forms of art, and to move into fields of activity normally beyond the artistic realm.

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Form+Code in Design, Art, and Architecture

—Casey Reas & Chandler McWilliams

The last decade has witnessed a proliferation of artists whose primary medium is software. Algorithmic processes, harnessed through the medium of computer code, allow artists to generate increasingly complex visual forms that they otherwise might not have been able to imagine, let alone delineate. The newest volume in our Design Brief series Form+Code in Design, Art, and Architecture is a non-technical introduction to the history, theory, and practice of software in the arts.

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New Media in Art (World of Art)

—Michael Rush

This pioneering book, originally published in 1999 under the title New Media in Late 20th-Century Art, discusses the most influential artists internationally — from Eadweard Muybridge to Robert Rauschenberg, Bill Viola, and Pipilotti Rist — and those seminal works that have radically transformed the map of world art. For this new and expanded edition, the book has been brought completely up to date to include the latest in digital work as technology takes art in new directions.

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Art and Electronic Media (Themes & Movements)

—Edward A. Shanken

Divided into seven thematic sections, the book follows a broadly chronological approach. The seven sections of this survey include: light, space, motion, time which lays the foundations in the early twentieth century, artists introduced motion and light into their work, defying the traditional concept of art as static, lit object — the jump-off point for interactive art incorporating digital media.

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Digital Art, 2nd (World of Art)

—Christiane Paul

This book surveys the developments in digital art from its appearance in the 1980s up to the present day, and looks ahead to what the future may hold. It explores themes addressed and raised by the art, such as viewer interaction, artificial life and intelligence, political and social activism, networks and telepresence, as well as issues such as the collection, presentation, and preservation of digital art.

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Illusions in Motion: Media Archaeology of the Moving Panorama and Related Spectacles

—Erkki Huhtamo

Beginning in the late eighteenth century, huge circular panoramas presented their audiences with resplendent representations that ranged from historic battles to exotic locations. Such panoramas were immersive but static. There were other panoramas that moved--hundreds, and probably thousands of them. Their history has been largely forgotten. In Illusions in Motion, Erkki Huhtamo excavates this neglected early manifestation of media culture in the making.

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From Technological to Virtual Art

—Frank Popper

In From Technological to Virtual Art, respected historian of art and technology Frank Popper traces the development of immersive, interactive new media art from its historical antecedents through today's digital, multimedia, and networked art. Popper shows that contemporary virtual art is a further refinement of the technological art of the late twentieth century and also a departure from it.

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Digital Performance: A History of New Media in Theater, Dance, Performance Art, and Installation

—Steve Dixon

Digital media has been increasingly incorporated into live theater and dance, and new forms of interactive performance have emerged in participatory installations, on CD-ROM, and on the Web. In Digital Performance, Steve Dixon traces the evolution of these practices, presents detailed accounts of key practitioners and performances, and analyzes the theoretical, artistic, and technological contexts of this form of new media art.

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In Your Computer

—Domenico Quaranta

This book is a collection of texts written by Domenico Quaranta between 2005 and 2010 for exhibition catalogues, printed magazines and online reviews: a pocket version of what the author would save from the universal flood, in a world without computers. Most of the fields of research he has developed are represented: from Net Art to Software Art and videogames, from biotechnologies to the debate around curating and the positioning of New Media Art in the contemporary landscape, and back to Net Art again.

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Who We Are

The Department of Design Media Arts (DMA) at UCLA investigates and cultivates a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to media creation that fosters experimentation and innovative thinking.
Victoria Vesna, Bodies Incorporated. 1993
Christian Moeller, Hands. 400,000 plastic chips, chain-link fence. 1250ft x 62ft. San Jose, California, 2009
Rebeca Mendez, Quagmire. Single channel video installation. Pasadena, 2012
Jennifer Steinkamp, Cornering. Philips 2700 400 lumen projector. 8ft x 8ft x 8ft. Los Angeles, 1997
Casey Reas, Process 2. Static images selected from an infinite number of variations. 19.685in x 19.685in. 2010
Rebeca Mendez, Nothing Further Happens. Single channel video. 2010
Jennifer Steinkamp, Hurdy Gurdy Man. Optoma TX779 4500 lumen projector, Asus computer. 2005-08

Our internationally renowned and diverse faculty have in common hybridity in their creative and intellectual works and pedagogy.
Rebecca Allen, Coexistence. Hardware, software. 2001

Experimentation and invention continues with our distinguished alumni, who make their mark around the world with their unique contributions to media arts.
Rebecca Allen, Sleight of Hand. Mixed reality with visual markers. 2004
Victoria Vesna and James Gimzewski, Blue Morph. Interactive installation. Joshua Tree, California, 2008
Eddo Stern, Emoticon. Digital Video. 2010
Christian Moeller, Nosy. Laminated glass, LEDs, robotic light and camera system. 43ft x 43ft x 15ft. Tokyo, 2006
Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin, Movable Type. 560 vacuum-fluorescent display screens. New York Times Building, New York, 2007
Rebecca Allen, Laberint. Single-channel video. 1992
Eddo Stern, Best Flamewar Ever. Two channel 3D computer animation diptych. 2007

View the work of our MFA students — Is there a connection to your own work?
Eric Siu, A couple of Irons. 2008
Justin Lui, Speak & Spoil
Jesse Chorng, Basketball Spinner. Steel, electric motor, basketballs. 2012
David Wicks, Bend
Aaron Koblin, Just a Reflektor. 2013
Mattia Casalegno, Augmented Architecture. 2009
Noa K. Kaplan, Oculus. Microscope, monitor, medium density fibreboard. 24in x 52in x 24in
Mark Essen, Punishment: The Punishing. Computer Game. 2009
Christopher O'Leary, Black Hole Simulation. Processing, generative animation. 2013
John Houck, Echelon #8
Zach Blas, Facial Weaponization Suite. 2011
Michael Kontopoulos, Measure of Discontent 3. 2011
Christo Allegra, Survivor Database
Krister Olsson, Pink Cosmos (after High and Low). Mixed Media. Yokohama, Japan, 2012
Jonathan Cecil, Chicago Fly. 2008-11
Gil Kuno, The Six String Sonics

DMA's resources and facilities make our research, pedagogy, and creations possible.
Application for admission to the Department of Media Arts (DMA) is a two-step process: Applicants must 1) complete and submit the UCLA Application for Graduate Admission by Jan. 15, 2019 and 2) complete and submit the DMA Supplemental Application, including the portfolio, by Jan. 20, 2019

DMA accepts applications only once a year for fall quarter admission.

Note: We do not accept traditional graphic design portfolios. The focus of the MFA program in media arts is the use of digital media in an art context, not in an applied arts context.

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Applicants must have completed a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution in order to apply. A minimum grade point average of 3.0 in the last two years of upper-division undergraduate work is also required. The applicant's bachelor's degree need not be in media arts, though applicants with degrees in interdisciplinary programs that emphasize media arts are preferred. Applicants are expected to have working knowledge of a variety of software. Additional experience with video, interactive media, or 3D modeling and animation is expected.

Students are recommended for acceptance into the Department of Design Media Arts program based on a faculty evaluation of their portfolio, written statements, and official academic records from all higher-education institutions attended after high school. Any applicant whose first language is not English is required to submit a minimum TOEFL score of at least 560 on the paper and pencil test or 220 on the computer based test. All applicants are also required to provide two letters of recommendation. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) also is not required.

A portfolio documenting no more than ten of the applicant's original works is required as a part of the Department Supplemental Application.

Formal faculty review of graduate applicant portfolios takes place in February of each year. Applicant finalists should be available for an in-person or Skype interview as a part of the application process.

For more information, contact dmainfo@arts.ucla.edu.

Useful links: 1) UCLA Graduate Division 2) School of Arts and Architecture 3) General Catalog 4) Financial Aid Office 5) Scholarship Office 6) Housing Office 7) Office for Students with Disabilities 8) Registrar's Office

MFA Schedule

First Year — required courses include Programming Media 1 (DESMA 252A), Programming Media 2 (DESMA 252B), Graduate Seminar (DESMA 269), Graduate Group Critique (DESMA 403), and Graduate Tutorial (DESMA 404). Sample course syllabi for Programming Media 1 and Programming Media 2.

Second Year — students continue with Graduate Group Critique (DESMA 403), Graduate Tutorial (DESMA 404), and Graduate Seminar (DESMA 269), which guide them through the MFA thesis process. Students are required to take 16 units of electives and are encouraged to select elective courses from other departments across UCLA. For a complete list and description of courses offered at UCLA, consult the UCLA General Catalog at www.registrar.ucla.edu/catalog.
  • Fall 2017
    DMA Faculty Seminar
    Programming Media 1*
    Graduate Group Critique
    Graduate Tutorial (2 courses)
  • Winter 2018
    Programming Media 2*
    Graduate Seminar
    Graduate Group Critique
    Graduate Tutorial (2 courses)
  • Spring 2018
    Graduate Group Critique
    Graduate Tutorial (2 courses)
    Elective of Choice or 596
  • Fall 2018
    Graduate Group Critique
    Graduate Tutorial (2 courses)
    Elective of Choice or 596
  • Winter 2019
    Graduate Seminar
    Graduate Group Critique
    Graduate Tutorial (2 courses)
    Elective of Choice or 596
  • Spring 2019
    Graduate Group Critique
    Graduate Tutorial (2 courses)
    Elective of Choice or 596
  • *These classes can be waived in favor of other graduate-level electives.

Graduate Student Fees*

University Fees $16,405.37
Nonresident Supplemental Tuition $15,102.00

*Based on 2016-2017 fees and tuition. UCLA Graduate Student Fees are subject to change at any time.

Financial Support

Various merit- and eligibility-based financial support is available to entering and continuing graduate students at UCLA. Entering DMA graduate students are offered financial assistance at the time of admission based on the strength of their application; continuing students are usually informed of their second-year financial support before the beginning of their second-year of study. The most common form of financial support is through teaching assistantships, which typically include fee remissions and health insurance.

More information on financial support, including extramural awards, is available through the UCLA Graduate Division.

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