Meaning through Experience
Fueled and inspired by the arts, Virginia Tech is a buzzing, creative community, one that validates the notion that the arts can transform lives and spur new knowledge and understanding. Now, the arts are plentiful and varied on many campuses. What, then, is so special about Virginia Tech? The key to our distinction in a hands-on, minds-on engagement with the arts; myriad opportunities for deeper immersion thrive here. Rather than standing by as casual observers, our students, and many other patrons, dive into the arts through meaningful experiences.
They stretch their creative muscles. They make personal discoveries. They forge new ground.
These artistic exercises generate energy—energy that is building on itself, gaining momentum, and reverberating across campus.
Masked in the playfulness of Halloween is the discovery and application of new knowledge.
Behold Tech-or-Treat, an annual thrill for children and families, sponsored by the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT).
More than 100 students and faculty from diverse academic disciplines collaborate to adapt their technologies, from 3-D printing to virtual worlds. In doing so, faculty and students are positioned at the nexus of arts, design, engineering, and science—precisely where ICAT operates.
Using augmented reality research, one former graduate student conjured flying monkeys. A computer science graduate student devised a computer game, “The Whale and the Cat,” that is played using in-air hand gestures. All students are on-site at Tech-or-Treat to explain their process and answer questions.
In “Between the Pyramid and the Labyrinth,” a dark cubic space becomes a labyrinthian environment that senses the proximity and movement of people and responds with varying intensities of light and sound. By way of the installation, researchers investigated the use of responsive technologies in architecture that heighten spatial awareness.
Unlike any other application of research, Tech-or-Treat challenges faculty and students. As Einstein once said, “Play is the highest form of research.”
“Creativity is essential in everything we do,” said ICAT director R. Benjamin Knapp. “Cultivating creativity on all kinds of levels, including Halloween events for children, flexes our thinking, opens us up to growth, and motivates us.”
Tweet Seats Master Class
The Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech set in motion an imaginative platform for discovery through the arts: the Tweet Seats Master Class.
In a traditional music master class, an expert—a “master”—starts and stops the music to interject anecdotes, advice, and technical information. In a Tweet Seats Master Class, the “master”—a faculty member—interjects the same commentary in real time via Twitter, unobtrusively, while the performance is ongoing.
The students sit in the back of the theatre, the glow from their phone and tablet screens shielded by black boxes on their laps. As the faculty member shares insights, such as a composer’s intention or the composition’s history, students engage in the discussion and pose their own questions.
The result? Students tell us that they focus more intently than ever before on the music. They learn how to actively listen to and analyze music.
Backstage, performers join in the conversation. Afterward, as tweeters and performers mingle, the tweets scroll across a screen, providing a springboard for more in-depth discussion.
A performance by Sphinx Virtuosi was the subject of a Tweet Seats Master Class. “We loved seeing so many astute observations from the students, such as textural differences between movements or the chemistry between performers,” said Sphinx Virtuosi cellist Christine Lamprea.
One hundred and forty characters at a time, Tweet Seats Master Classes provide performers, students, and faculty a new way to engage with the arts.