Civilization Historian, Cyber Security Ace, Filmmaker: Who’s Who at ITMO’s New Art&Science Program
This academic year marks the start of ITMO University’s brand-new Art&Science Master’s program, Russia’s first-ever education program exploring the cutting-edge field of scientific art. Taught in English, the program combines the resources of the university’s state-of-the-art laboratories with the expertise of leading Russian and international art specialists. Art enthusiasts from Russia and all over the world came to St. Petersburg to study contemporary art, art entrepreneurship, execution of high-tech art projects, museum and exhibition management, and many other innovative fields that have only just started to emerge on the market. At a meeting with the program supervisor, a Russian art expert and head of the Department of Contemporary Art at the State Hermitage Museum Dimitri Ozerkov, ITMO.NEWS talked to the program participants to find about the fields they come from and expectations they have for their studies.
Anna Pisarevskaya, historian
I graduated from the St. Petersburg State University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences. In August 2015, I went to Bard College in New York to study English and came back there two years later to do a semester exchange. I majored in History of Civilizations, so I have a humanities background. My thesis was dedicated to the history of the French Communist Party and its interaction with the USSR. I’d read lots and lots of editions of L’Humanité, a French communist daily first published in 1904, to research this topic. Although I can’t boast a great grasp of hard sciences, I’m fascinated by technologies and would like to expand my humanities-oriented skillset by adding new tech skills to help me in my future career of museum and cultural projects coordinator. Modern museums offer lots of new opportunities, for example, visualization of data, so museum staff have to be on par with new developments, and that’s why studying Art&Science is so important.
Alena Koroleva, artist, finalist of Sony World Photography Awards 2013
I come from an arts background: I graduated from the St. Petersburg Stieglitz State Academy of Art and Design with a Bachelor’s diploma in Conservation of Cultural Heritage. My main specialization was restoring Russian 18th-century icons, however my artistic practices at large lie in the realm of the contemporary media. I do photography and participate in numerous exhibitions: this May, I organized a solo exhibition looking into destructive aspects of social relations. I applied for the Art&Science project to deepen my knowledge of the biology of auto destructions and want to use ITMO University’s extensive academic, innovation and research resources to increase my understanding of human psychology. I work as an international project manager in the FotoDepartament gallery: we’ve just launched an international project aimed at promoting promising Russian photographers to the international community.
Ethan Avila Hernández, artist, filmmaker
I hail from Mexico; there I graduated from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education with a major in Animation and Digital Arts. As an animator, I participated in two exhibitions that explored the philosophical question of the meaning of life. I’m really excited about studying at ITMO University because I want to learn more about robotics and artificial intelligence, as well as how technologies impact and merge with art. This is all the more exciting considering that the novel nature of the Art&Science program means that we’ll be working in a completely unchartered territory and with new issues and phenomena that were unimaginable only a couple years ago.
Michel Doumit, artist
I came to ITMO University from Lebanon, where I graduated from the Lebanese University with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Fine Art. As part of my studies, I analyzed the works of one of the 20th century’s most iconic art masters: the Swiss sculptor, painter, draftsman and printmaker Alberto Giacometti. Back home, I participated in four collective art exhibitions and held a solo exhibition in my alma mater in 2017. I chose ITMO University for my further studies because I believe that science will help me boost my artistic expression, guide it in a new direction, and give me new resources to unleash my full potential.
Chaudhuri Md Murshidul Arifeen, sociologist
I come from Bangladesh; I studied at the National University in Gazipur and graduated with a first-class honors Master’s degree in Sociology. I’ve been working for the Bangladeshi Ministry of Culture for a couple of years, and plan on becoming a full-fledged Ministry consultant in my later career. I’m not that big a specialist when it comes to science, so I decided to opt for a program which would allow me to study both art and science at the same time. I’ve been really lucky to find this ITMO University’s one-of-a-kind program which is available for international students. Besides, ITMO is known for its world-class academic and scientific research, which also motivated me to apply.
Victoria Romanova, engineer
I did my Bachelor’s studies at ITMO University’s Faculty of Laser and Light Engineering. Over the course of my studies, I was involved in a research project on designing an optical part for a star tracker. Needless to say that humanities is a whole new sphere for me: my personal work was connected with specific plans, strict rules, and complex optical calculations. Although it was interesting, somewhere along the line I grew a bit bored of my profession and decided that I wanted to do something that is not only useful but also beautiful and unique. That’s what led me to the Art&Science program.
Liliana Gareeva, designer
I graduated from the Faculty of Design of the Bashkir State Pedagogical University; my thesis explored the process of creating animations and included my own concept-art, storyboards, 3D-models, and animation cycles. I’ve lived in Ufa for the biggest part of my life, but still came to St. Petersburg for a few times to take part in conferences, festivals and other events dedicated to art, illustration, and game design, and even managed to win a prize in one of the hackathons by designing multimedia content for Lumiere Hall. I used to work as a 3D-animator, but have now moved to the sphere of digital art. After attending a visual programming course in April, I got to visit the Art&Science laboratory, and it was this that influenced my decision to apply for a related Master’s program at ITMO University. I’m as fascinated by art as I’m interested in technologies, so it’s a perfect place for me.
Marta Mikhailova, designer
I am a graduate of ITMO University Faculty of Software Engineering and Computer Systems, where I majored in Graphic Technologies. Having worked in design for the past three years, I decided to broaden my knowledge and do a Master’s program: my first choice was Lighting Design, but after discovering the Art&Science program, I immediately changed my plan. It’s hard for me to decide whether I’m more of a techie or a humanities kind of person: I studied in a class that specialized in physics and maths at school and then found myself in design.
Yulia Ganchikova, cybersecurity specialist
I earned my Bachelor’s degree from ITMO University’s Faculty of Information Security and Computer Technologies. A year ago it dawned on me that I was no longer interested in cybersecurity and that I wanted to pursue art and design instead. It was this realization that brought me to the Art&Science program; I hope that my tech skills will help me in my future artistic endeavors.
Svetlana Sidorova, oil and gas engineer
My initial education background was in oil and gas engineering: that was my major at the St. Petersburg Mining University. But a year of studying in a Danish Folkeskole (people’s school) completely changed my perspective and, subsequently, plans for the future. It was then that I understood I wanted to study Art&Science. After returning to St. Petersburg, I decided to make up for my lack of art education by active practical work in this sphere: I started to volunteer at the St. Petersburg Street Art Museum, as well as the Manege Central Exhibition Hall. At the end of August, my team and I organized a neuro performance at the New Stage of Alexandrinsky Theater, and last weekend, I finished my work as an assistant curator of the international public art festival ‘Art Prospect’.