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By Rachel Carasso
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 2, 1998

Computer help


Dan Hoffman
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Hardware technician Joe Beals falls victim to some of the techniques available to art students at the Digital Imaging Lab.

A new digital imaging lab in the basement of the Art building is helping fine arts students experiment with computer technology.

The lab, which has 13 Power Macintosh computers, allows digital photography, advanced computer graphics and media arts students to make animated films and multimedia presentations.

"The lab is going to completely change our program," said Katie Howell, graphic design senior. "Everything that we do in this (computer graphics) class is on the computer."

First Interstate Bank gave the University of Arizona's Art Department a $100,000 grant to build the lab.

"Usually the Art Department is last to get new technology," said Karen White, assistant fine arts professor. "Most of the time it is the science departments that get these grants."

Jim O'Brien, visual arts interim director, said his department received the grant specifically to build the new lab, which was built where photography dark rooms used to be.

"We had to get approval to get the room renovated and had to show need for the new lab in order to get the grant," he said.

Joe Beals, computer communication specialist for the Art Department, said the project has been in the planning stages the past three years. Construction began Nov. 3 and students began using the lab Jan. 16.

"We wanted a lab that could be versatile enough for all types of arts students," Beals said.

Students enrolled in a course called Beginning Digital Photography are using the computers and Adobe Photoshop 4.0 software to enhance their photos.

"Right now we are learning how to use the software and then we'll start projects," said Fritz Simon, a digital arts senior who uses the lab for the photography and the computer graphics classes.

All art students who have a class in the lab have access to it. These students use a special code to access the lab outside of class.

"Since most of our work is on the computer, it's important that we be able to get in here at night," said Brian Wellner, graphic design senior. "I have been here until 4 or 5 a.m. working on projects."

By the end of the semester, the lab will have 18 computer stations, including IBM-compatible personal computers, Beals said.

"One of the reasons that I came here was because of UA's mission to make digital media available to art students," White said. "This is an incredible way to prepare them for the future."

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