new media + sound arts

Intake to the Interactive + Social Media Arts (ISMA) Major is suspended effective Fall 2015.  The intake is expected to resume Fall 2017, with an expanded curriculum encompassing both new media and sound arts.

The Interactive + Social Media Arts (ISMA) Major is a four-year Bachelor of Media Arts program that enables students to pursue creative and critical art/new media practices that employ the use of interactive and social media methods and technologies. ISMA focuses on viewer/user/audience experience and the position of individuals and/or collectives in content creation. By examining new forms of social and mobile media, participatory engagement from various distributed and local publics, and interactive techniques, ISMA takes up the challenge of recent practices that emphasize the audience and viewers as active agents in the construction of content and meaning. ISMA investigates the complexity of social experiences, such as how online communities are formed and always in flux, how visitors to new media installations within galleries can contribute, and how the use of interactive interfaces can be used to create real-time audio-visual experiences. Critical methodologies include examining the use of recent technologies as they apply to the complexity of social, environmental and ethical concerns of the 21st century.


ISMA is positioned at the intersection between design and new media art. ISMA meshes the creative and experimental use of computer technologies seen as a development of 20th century art/media practices with practical learning towards skills needed in our current culture where creative social media, web and software experts are in such high demand. Design-related content in ISMA emerges through a process of exploration and research in relation to programming and designing for web and for interactive interface. However, where a purely design-based approach may involve client-based problem-solving, ISMA engages open-ended inquiry towards an understanding of how art and technology can reshape the future. ISMA takes on problems that shift the field and move towards positive social change by actively pursuing and identifying key critical questions about society and culture.  






Students are encouraged to undertake work that focuses on several ISMA points of concentration enabling the incorporation of new technologies. Technical instruction is augmented with critical studies curriculum that explores the philosophical, ethical and sociological context of practice using new technologies, and the history of interactivity and its role in art, political and social movements.

Foundation year - students are encouraged to take the media arts core curriculum as one of their choices, and in the spring to take a 3 credit 2nd year ISMA or CGIA course as one of their electives. 

2nd year - the required core studio course, ISMA200, offers project-based curriculum where students complete individual and group assignments in: digital imaging, blogging, locative sound, video for social media. Students develop skills in verbal and written articulation about their practice. ISMA electives offer web programming and software programming for audio-video interactivity. ISMA208 is a required computer programming course that introduces students to open source Processing programming language, an environment widely used by artists and designers. A required academic course, MHIS207, surveys the work and ideas of artists and designers who have explored new interactive and interdisciplinary forms, as well as engineers and mathematicians who have developed information technologies and influential scientific and philosophical ideologies used in today’s technological practices.

3rd year - the required core studio course, ISMA300, offers project-based curriculum investigating more complex projects and ideas involving audio-visual interactive platforms such as on-line graphic novels, gallery-based interactive installations, robotics and interactive wearables, programming for mobile apps, live media performance. Students continue to develop their verbal and written articulation skills. ISMA318 is a required computer programming course that further explores object-oriented and graphics programming. Students are introduced to the Java programming language and environment. SOCS301 is a required academic course that investigates how new technologies are affecting our perspectives towards, as well as our place in contemporary thought and culture, and how technological "advances" can be considered in relation to ethical practices.  

4th year – in the required core studio courses, ISMA400 and ISMA410, students model, prototype and articulate their plans for their graduating project. They build their project and develop documentation on the process and finally on the completed work. This studio work is primarily self-directed, preparing students for the degree exhibition. The project stages include producing material that would typically be asked for in a professional setting (proposals, plans, artist statements, budget, etc). Students develop an understanding of how their practice is informed by the larger contemporary new media communities. In the required academic course, MHIS407, students investigate a specific topic in interactive and social media arts analysis that may contextualize their practice: digital narrative, gaming, locative media, digital poetry and literature, database aesthetics, hacktivism, digital intervention, net art, robotics, bioart, digital ecoart, virtual environments, augmented reality, and systems art.


More information on ISMA

ISMA Degree requirements:


  • Julie Andreyev, Associate Professor, Faculty of Design + Dynamic Media
  • Haig Armen, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Design + Dynamic Media


ISMA Facilities

ISMA makes use of a number of computer labs and production areas within ECUAD: the Mac computer labs which have all Adobe video and sound editing software; video recording, sound editing, and interactive software facilities; the Digital Output Centre for print media; the Wearables and Interactive Product Studio for electronics courses. Our optional student laptop program offers an attractive pricing option for Adobe software.

Program links