Under Fire: 3D Animation Pedagogy

Summer 2011: v.07 n.01: Under Fire: 3D Animation Pedagogy

This edition of Media-N originates from the panel, Under Fire: 3D Animation Pedagogy and Industry Complicity in New Media Education, at the College Arts Association Conference, Chicago in February 2010. It was co-chaired by Claudia Hart (Associate Professor, Department of Film, Video, New Media, Animation at the School of the Art Institute, Chicago) and Rachel Clarke (Associate Professor of Electronic Art at California State University, Sacramento).

Each of the panelists addressed the topic from the perspective of their role as 3D animation educators, and also as practicing artists in the field. It was apparent during the presentations that the subject – how to teach 3D CG in a fine arts context – presented difficulties to those involved in it, and struck a chord with the wider audience of new media educators. 3D animation functioned as an exemplar of the inherent conflict in combining technical training with an enlightenment idea of pedagogy.

Many of the challenges brought up in the panel were developed in the discussion generated by audience members: the relationship between a 3D animation curriculum in art school and a vocational training program, the pressures placed upon faculty by both administrators and students to conform to industry-pipeline models, and the lack of availability of alternative teaching resources, among others. It was clear that the panel addressed a need for further conversation on the topic.

These issues resurface for further investigation throughout this edition of Media-N: the authors expand on the issues they face, discuss the ways they deal with the notion of “industry complicity,” and posit various ideas for rethinking the 3D animation curriculum. This is just the start of a conversation that we hope will promote progressive approaches not just to technology but to thinking in general, beyond the “corporate mandate,” with all of the broad political implications that implies.

Rachel Clarke and Claudia Hart