A Hub for IDEAs

Have you ever had an idea for a collaborative project or installation that could be phenomenal if only you had the resources and knowledge-base to see it realized?

Well, thanks to the dedication of LSU School of Art faculty members and a $120,000 grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents, students and faculty now have access to an Integrated Digital Environment for Artists.

The studio space, named the IDEA Hub, is located on the first floor of the Art Building and features high-end equipment and cutting-edge technologies. In addition to the hub, four designated nodes, or satellite studios, within digital art, graphic design, photography, and printmaking, were established to accommodate multidisciplinary and multimedia projects such as those developed for exhibition displays, large-format imaging, contemporary letterpress technologies, and interactive digital cinema, animation, and gaming technologies. Configuration within the hub and nodes enables faculty, graduate students, upper-level undergraduates, and other users to connect to digital resources with networked laptops and mobile devices and to transport content between workstations, studios, and multiple presentation environments.

“The IDEA Hub enables and encourages graduate students to expand the reach, scope, and potential of their projects and research initiatives for more high profile, collaborative projects that no single area or specialization could complete individually,” said Lynne Baggett, professor of graphic design and principal investigator for the IDEA grant. Digital media plays a fundamental role in contemporary art practice, particularly in the disciplines of digital art, graphic design, photography, and printmaking. During the past decade, these disciplines have evolved substantially to combine digital technologies and artistic investigations within the BFA and MFA curricula. The hub alleviates previous restraints, departmental divisions, and boundaries, enabling students and faculty to pioneer projects that will place LSU on a national level for digital art creation and production.

Several high-end equipment purchases were supported by funds from the grant:

  • a $15,000 Red 4K Scarlet camera capable of capturing 5K stills and 4K motion footage is in constant use and in high demand within the school and across the university;
  • large-format printers and a $25,000 Hasselblad Flextight X5 scanner, which students can use to print and scan large-format photographic negatives and prints in color and black-and-white at extremely high resolutions; and
  • a Jet 750 A-2 Platemaker, housed in the printmaking node, is fundamental in modernizing the traditional letterpress, “It is impossible to incorporate digital manifestations of contemporary typography without creating photopolymer plates,” explained Professor Leslie Koptcho. “This equipment allows the artist or designer freedom from a structured grid imposed by lines of metal type and, most importantly, to integrate imagery and text as one matrix.” The platemaker will serve digital, graphic-design, and printmaking students and will promote interdisciplinary connections to the English and creative writing departments, whose students often enroll in book arts and papermaking courses.

The school also used funds from the grant to purchase software and workstations, lighting equipment and projector screens, and to upgrade networking and electrical outlets.