Concordia music professor teaches an intensive course as part of ISEA2020
Over the last six months, Ricardo Dal Farra, a professor in Concordia’s Department of Music, has not only brought his teaching online, he’s brought his students’ work online to international electronic arts festivals.
This fall, Dal Farra has been teaching an intensive music class called ISEA2020, which will bring seventeen fine arts students to the ISEA2020 International Symposium on Electronic Art this Saturday, Oct. 17.
“ISEA is one of the most important electronic arts symposiums in the world,” Dal Farra says. “This is an exceptional opportunity for students. ISEA almost never allows students to present their works like this. To build a whole class for students around the symposium – it has never been done before!”
‘The largest international conference dedicated to art, culture and technology’
Dal Farra sits on the board of ISEA International, whose mission it is is to foster interdisciplinary academic exchange across a culturally diverse range of organizations and individuals working in art, science and technology. They do this through an annual symposium.
Montreal is presenting the symposium’s first-ever digital edition, ISEA2020 which runs October 13 - 18. Locally, Concordia University and the Milieux Institute are official partners, with faculty members Alice Ming Wai Jim sitting as co-Chair of the Artistic Committee and Christopher Salter sitting as co-chair of the Academic Committee.
"ISEA is the largest international conference dedicated to art, culture and technology in the world,” says Salter. “Milieux and Hexagram, founded and co-founded by Concordia, are key players in this year’s conference. About two dozen Concordia faculty and students will present alongside more than 300 speakers from 60 countries - all online in our pandemic moment.”
'An amazing opportunity for students to be innovative'
From multi-screen video installations to immersive audio experiences to studies on architecture and materiality, the student work coming out of Dal Farra’s course is diverse.
But all students share a common interest: they want to develop their electronic arts skills and present their work at ISEA Montreal.
Dal Farra met with each of his students individually and developed unique schedules so they could finish their work in time for the symposium. As part of the course, on top of their presentations, they also must attend ten activities at symposium, keep a journal of their reflections and write a report on their experience.
“This ISEA2020 class is my latest online pedagogical experiment. It’s an amazing opportunity for students to be innovative and to learn how to be patient and flexible.”
The class output will be shown through a single livestream at the symposium, available via Zoom or YouTube Live links, sent to registered participants.
Intensive courses that create a sense of community
The format of this class was founded on lessons Dal Farra learned designing online courses over the summer during the pandemic, which had radically changed Dal Farra’s summer teaching plans. Usually, he takes students on summer field trips in Columbia and Mexico, working in collaboration with arts festivals abroad.
As an alternative, he created two intensive online courses: Experimental Art and Music for Non-musicians, held over a few weekends in June and July, and New Music and Media Arts, which took place over one week in August.
“These courses had to be very intensive to accommodate everyone’s changing schedules,” he says. “We were running classes at least six hours a day. That was in itself a pedagogical experiment. The experience was so intensive! Students were happy because it created a sense of community.”
'This is how I imagine a proper academic course'
Students in the New Music and Media Arts class showed their compositions at the Visiones Sonoras festival, an interdisciplinary music and new media event based in Morelia, Mexico, in September.
“This belongs to one of my favorite courses I have ever taken at Concordia,” says Peter Hostak, an MFA Film Production student. “This is how I imagine a proper academic course: highly professional, intensive, challenging and engaging, very well organized and structured. There was not a moment of hesitation.”
Dal Farra says that students in the ISEA2020 course have formed into a tightly-knit team because they must work collectively to present their works together at the symposium.
“They are helping one another with technical aspects, for the whole presentation. It’s not just their own work. This is like a virtual field school. ISEA2020 is one more experiment where we are going to the extreme, bringing students into the real world, where they will present their works at the highest level to colleagues from around the world.”
On Saturday, October 17, starting at 11:00 a.m., students from the ISEA2020 class, led by Dal Farra, will present their works and research in a special session of the Symposium. This activity is open to the public through a YouTube Live channel: ISEA2020 - Concordia University Students.
See the full program of ISEA2020.
Discover ISEA2020 events through the Milieux Institute.
Learn more about Concordia's Department of Music.