Fall 2001 Computer Requirement
Requirement The Design Department at Cornish College of the Arts requires all incoming students to purchase a new laptop computer prior to their arrival on campus. We realize, with trepidation, the economic burden this requirement is likely to place on our students. This requirement is necessary, however, if we are to effectively educate and prepare our students for a professional marketplace where a thorough knowledge of the digital medium and the ability to effectively use it as a design tool is indispensable. Ultimately, we wish our students to be not only proficient in the digital medium, but at the forefront of exploring new ideas, new forms, new technologies, and new frontiers. To these ends, having continuous access to a computer inside and outside the classroom is vital.
Catalyst The digital revolution of the past decade and a half has radically altered the shape of time and space, as we knew it. Our perception of the world and much of our daily interaction with it have been fundamentally transformed in a relatively short span of time. Although the revolution has been digital in form, it has been essentially visual in nature. In the least, the new medium has contributed to the making of a hyper-visual culture whose modes of reception and interaction, whose visual and formal expectations, and aesthetic sensibilities far exceed the capabilities of the manual and mechanical media.
Since the privilege and the responsibility of giving visual form and expression to our culture’s beliefs and ideas, values and ideals, is vested in our designers, it is not surprising that the impact of the digital medium on the design profession has been, at the risk of understatement, profound. The digital medium has radically altered not only the mode of production, but more important, the modes of design exploration, conceptualization, and realization. This is primarily because the digital medium is as effective a design tool as it is a production tool.
Impact The initial impetus behind the adoption of the digital medium by design professionals was economic and production oriented. What has endeared the medium is its immense potential as a design tool. Beyond mere familiarity, the ability to use the digital medium effectively as a design tool is now an indispensable skill for the next generation of designers.
Potential Aside from altering the way we conceptualize and shape the world around us, the digital medium has literally offered a new world of opportunities to the design community. The next generation of designers will not be limited to the print world or the three-dimensional world subject to Newtonian laws. The digital environment or cyber space in all its manifestations, from the World Wide Web to virtual reality, is a new frontier that remains to be fully and effectively shaped by the next generation of designers. It has and will continue to offer exciting new possibilities and immense potential for growth. It has already increased demand for skilled designers many folds, and it is likely to demand the unique skills of a new generation of designers trained to address the specific requirements of this new environment.
Consequence The digital media has had as great, if not greater, impact on design education as it has had on the design profession. Design educators have had to respond quickly to the changing requirements of the culture at large and the profession in specific. They have had to grapple with how to best respond to current conditions and anticipate future developments. They have had to rethink their pedagogical strategies and devise new and more effective ways of training the next generation of designers. The question of how to effectively use the new medium, not only as a design and a production tool, but also as an educational tool, is of particular interest to the design department at Cornish College of the Arts, since we strive to carry on Cornish’s tradition of not merely being current with developments in various fields of art and design, but actively engaging new ideas and exploring new frontiers. This enduring tradition is precisely what makes Cornish an exciting place to study design both now and for years to come.
Response The initial and widely adopted policy in various design programs nation wide was the institution of computer laboratories, coupled with a curricular emphasis on developing software proficiency. Overtime this approach has proven itself highly ineffective. It is inadequate as a pedagogical strategy for the integration and effective use of the computer into the design curriculum. In effect, this policy has led to segregation of the digital medium from other spaces and other modes of representation and production within the curriculum.
Context At the core of every design education is the design studio. The studio is a unique learning environment where the knowledge and the analytical skills acquired in the classroom are brought to bear on the translation and transformation of conceptual ideas into concrete form. The pedagogy of the studio is focused on the development of creative solutions to specific design problems. The process entails persistent experimentation, simulation, and critical analysis in search of an appropriate formal solution. It requires the employment of a host of tools and a combination of technologies. The design studio is, in other words, a mixed-media environment. The exigencies of formal realization and reproduction demand and guide the mixed use of a variety of tools and technologies, of which the computer can be the most powerful and persuasive medium yet. However, the focus of the studio is never on any one medium. Rather, it is on arriving at a formal solution, for the realization of which no medium by itself is sufficient. Each medium has its unique limitations as well as contributions, and a mix of media is required to compensate for the limitations of individual media.
Problem The pencil, the cardboard, and ultimately the computer—or else two- and three-dimensional drawings and models, whether manual, mechanical, or electronic—are not different media of choice for accomplishing the same task in the studio. Rather, they are complementary and supplementary means of finding an effective solution to the problem at hand. This is precisely why the computer lab policy is pedagogically counterproductive for design education. The studio pedagogy can only benefit from the computer’s immense potential if it is effectively integrated with other tools and technologies that mutually compensate for each other’s limitations in a mixed-media environment. The spatial and conceptual segregation of the computer can at best render it an ineffectual pedagogical tool for design, or worse, lead to the hegemony of the electronic media with all the entailed limitations and pedagogical shortcomings.
Solution To be effective, the digital medium must be integrated into the studio space and used in conjunction with other complementary tools and technologies. It is with this understanding and the unequivocal goal of educating highly competitive, well trained designers, who are ready to meet the challenges of a changing and demanding professional market place, that we are requiring our incoming students to purchase a laptop computer. This would give each student universal access, on call, inside and outside the studio.
The college, for its part, has invested in and provides the students with state of the art hardware, connectivity, and peripherals that allow them to readily and effectively realize their ideas. Students have access to a host of color printers and plotters, high-resolution scanners, LCD projectors and monitors, digital cameras, digital storage devices and a variety of networking options. We make every effort to provide students 2D graphic and 3D modeling software, in the least, at substantially discounted prices. We subscribe to and provide students digital access to the tremendous library resources and restricted research materials available on the World Wide Web inside and outside the classroom. And last, but certainly not least, we provide effective instruction and a mixed media learning environment where students are encouraged to explore a variety of tools and technologies that allows them to realize their full creative potential as designers.
We request you purchase an Apple laptop computer with the following configurations:
• 400MHz PowerPC G4 • 500MHz PowerPC G4
• 1MB L2 cache • 1MB L2 cache
• 128MB SDRAM memory • 256 MB SDRAM memory
• 10GB Ultra ATA drive • 20GB IDE drive
• DVD-ROM w/DVD-Video • DVD-ROM w/DVD-Video
• ATI Rage Mobility 128 • ATI Rage Mobility 128
• 10/100BASE-T Ethernet • 10/100BASE-T Ethernet
• This unit currently costs $2,443 • This unit currently costs $3,289
Although a laptop computer costs more than a comparable desktop system, you will need the mobility of a laptop computer. It will allow you indispensable access to the computer in studio, classroom, and at home.
For students eligible to receive financial aid, the cost of the computer will be added to their educational expenses, making them eligible to request an equivalent increased in student loans. Please contact the admission office regarding the details of this option.
You can purchase this computer from the Apple on-line Education store at an educational discount. You can place your order at http://www.apple.com/education/ or call 1-800-780-5009. The prices above reflect the educational discoount that is available to you only through the Apple web site.
We also highly recommend that you purchase a 4x5 or 6x8 Wacom Intuos USB Tablet.
If you have any questions or need more information please contact the admission office and/or the design department.