Special Projects | 17-Jan-2017

Three Arts + More!

By Charlie Pullen, Department Coordinator, Expressive Arts

At our annual A3+ Day, F2 (Grade 8) students have an opportunity to integrate drama, music and visual arts. This special day creates a space for students to explore how contemporary arts practice is often interdisciplinary in nature, and allows them to pursue links between the arts disciplines – and beyond. Hence, the name: three arts plus more = A3+ Day!

Typically, schools break the arts into separate disciplines: drama, music, dance and visual arts. This focus has benefits. It provides time to develop discipline-specific skills, concepts and methods. However, by compartmentalizing the various Arts disciplines, we risk curtailing creativity by fragmenting our toolkits and, thereby, our vision.

At UTS, our A3+ Day allows us to explore the creative potential that exists in the often-overlooked spaces between the boundaries of artistic disciplines. For example:

  • What possibilities lie in the space between dance and visual art, or between drama and music? 
  • How might artists harness emerging technologies like augmented reality, virtual reality, performance capture, and wearable tech – or use social media and data to shape audience experiences? 
  • How can schools encourage students to use the Arts to investigate these spaces and technologies?

F2 students are in a great position to ask this question. They are uniquely situated to take advantage of the flexibility of the provincial Arts curriculum over the next few years as it is designed to allow creative growth across arts disciplines. 

This year, we invited local animators based at the Toronto Animated Image Society to come to UTS to lead our students through a stop-motion animation technique called pixilation. This technique uses the dramatic movements of an actor to create wild and physics-bending effects (Neighbours, by Norman McLaren is a famous Canadian example of this technique).

UTS also partnered with three local musicians: Mark Swan, Eric McMillan and Yannick Allwood. These three demonstrated how to use a “loop” to construct musical compositions. Students then used a smartphone app called Launchpad to create the soundtracks for their animations. After two hours of shooting and composing, we ended the day with a screening of the student productions. 

While students might think of themselves as cellists, actors or photographers – the hope is that events like A3+ Day will encourage them to consider how their interests and experiences with any art-form can serve as a starting place for growth: growth into the other arts and perhaps even into their other personal and academic interests, too.