ICAM Major

The Interdisciplinary Computing and the Arts program in the Music and Visual Arts Departments draws upon, and aims to bring together, ideas and paradigms from computer science, art and cultural theory. It takes for granted that the computer has become a meta-medium and that artists and musicians working with computers are expected to combine different media forms in their works. This makes the program unique among other currently existing computer art or design programs.

The program also recognizes that creating sophisticated artistic works with computers requires a new model of the creative process, one that combines traditional artistic procedures with the experimental research characteristic of the sciences.

The goals of the program are:

  • to prepare the next generation of artists who will be functioning in a computer-mediated culture
  • to give students necessary technical, theoretical and historical backgrounds so they can contribute to the development of new aesthetics for computer media
  • to prepare students to mediate between the worlds of computer science and technology, the arts, and the culture at large by being equally proficient with computing and cultural concepts
  • to give students sufficient understanding of the trajectories of development in computing so they can anticipate and work with the emerging trends, rather than being locked in particular software currently available on the market.


Majors entering as Freshmen

All courses taken to satisfy major requirements must be taken for a letter grade, and only grades of C- or better will be accepted in the major.

Lower Division Requirements (eight courses required)

Students should  complete the following lower-division courses within six quarters (by the end of their sophomore year):

MUS 4 Introduction to Western Music
choose one:

MUS 1A  Fundamentals of Music


Introduction to Art-Making*  

MUS 2A  Basic Musicianship


Introduction to Computing in the Arts  

MUS 5    Sound in Time


Calculus for Science and Engineering**  



Calculus for Science and Engineering
choose one:

MUS 6   Electronic Music

CSE 11

Introduction to Computer Science: JAVA***  

MUS 7   Music, Science, and Computers



MUS 14 Contemporary Music




* VIS 2 (Introduction to Art-Making: Motion and Time Based Art) or VIS 3 (Introduction to Art Making: Three-Dimensional Practices) can be substituted for VIS 1

** MATH 10A, 10B, and 10C (Calculus) can be substituted for MATH 20A and 20B

*** CSE 11 is an accelerated course in the JAVA programming language. CSE 8A, CSE 8AL, and 8B, which cover the same material in a non-accelerated format, may be substituted.

Upper-Division Requirements (twelve courses required)

ICAM 110 Computing in the Arts: Current Practice

Theory and History
ICAM 150/VIS 159 History of Art and Technology


ICAM 101/VIS 140 Digital Imaging: Image and Interactivity
ICAM 102/VIS 145A Digital Media I: Time, Movement, Sound
ICAM 103/MUS 170 Musical Acoustics

-and- choose one:
MUS 111 World Music Traditions
MUS 114 Music of the Twentieth Century
MUS 175 Musical Psychoacoustics
VIS 123CN Early Print Culture: The First Media Revolution
VIS 125E History of Performance
VIS 150 History and Art of the Silent Cinema
VIS 151 History of the Experimental Film
VIS 152 Film in Social Context
VIS 153 The Genre Series
VIS 154 Hard Look at the Movies
VIS 155 The Director Series
VIS 157 Video History and Criticism
VIS 158 Histories of Photography


Advanced - choose four from:
ICAM 120 Virtual Environments
ICAM 130/VIS 149 Seminar in Contemporary Computer Topics
MUS 171 Computer Music I
MUS 172 Computer Music II
MUS 173 Audio Production: Mixing and Editing
MUS 174A/B Audio and MIDI Studio Techniques
MUS 176 Music Technology Seminar
VIS 109 Advanced Projects in Media
VIS 131 Special Projects in Media
VIS 132 Installation Production and Studio
VIS 141A Computer Programming for the Arts I
VIS 141B Computer Programming for the Arts II
VIS 145B Digital Media II
VIS 147A Electronic Technologies for Art I
VIS 147B Electronic Technologies for Art II
VIS 174 Media Sketchbook



Senior Project
ICAM 160A Senior Project in Computer Arts
ICAM 160B Senior Project in Computer Arts



Recommendations for Transfer Students

Transfer students should attempt to complete the following lower division courses before transferring to UCSD: CSE 11 (or CSE 8A/8AL/8B), MATH 20A-B (or Math 10A-B-C), and MUSIC 4.  Go to http://www.assist.org “ASSIST is an online student-transfer information system that shows how course credits earned at one public California college or university can be applied when transferred to another. ASSIST is the official repository of articulation for California’s public colleges and universities and provides the most accurate and up-to-date information about student transfer in California.”

Students should also be able to find courses equivalent to MUSIC 1A, 6, and 14 at some colleges. While some of these may be listed on ASSIST, transfers should be prepared to provide course descriptions, syllabi, and/or other materials that may be required to determine the content of the courses taken at other institutions.

Transfers entering with 36 or more quarter units by their third quarter of study at UCSD should complete their remaining lower division courses for the major by the end of the third quarter.

Policies Related to the ICAM Major

Satisfactory Progress
Any ICAM major whose GPA in courses required for the major drops below 2.0 will be placed on probationary status the following quarter. If, during that probationary quarter, the GPA does not move up to 2.0 or better, he or she will be dropped from the major.

Students are required to complete all prerequisites prior to enrolling in any course required for the major. Exceptions must be negotiated with the instructor of the course in question, in consultation with the Department’s undergraduate advisor.



Amy Alexander, M.F.A., Associate Professor, Visual Arts


Gerald Balzano, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Music


Sheldon Brown, M.F.A., Professor, Visual Arts


Shlomo Dubnov, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Music


Tom Erbe, B.S., Lecturer, Music


Adriene Jenik, M.F.A., Associate Professor, Visual Arts


F. Richard Moore, Ph.D., Professor, Music


Peter Otto, M.F.A., Music Technology Director, Music


Miller Puckette, Ph.D., Professor, Music


Louis Hock, M.F.A., Professor, Visual Arts


Lev Manovich, Ph.D., Professor, Visual Arts