Nomination for 2011 Larry Sautter Award
Digital Arts Research Center: Innovative New Facilities for the Digital Arts
Arts Computing Director; ITS Divisional Liaison to the Arts Division
UC Santa Cruz
Office: 831 459 5073
Cell: 831 818 3862
Peter Harris, ITS/Art Department
Eric Mack, ITS/Theater Arts Department
Lyle Troxell, ITS/Digital Arts & New Media Program
Eight years in the making, the Digital Arts Research Center at UC Santa Cruz provides innovative, state-of-the-art
facilities and services for students and faculty in the digital arts. A team of IT specialists, involved from the very
beginning, was instrumental in conceptualizing and bringing to fruition these unusual new spaces. Services
provided by these same staff help ensure the facilities’ success.
The Digital Arts Research Center (DARC) is a new building of about 25,000 ASF at UC Santa Cruz. It is the home
of the Masters of Fine Arts Program in Digital Arts and New Media, and parts of the departments of Art and Music.
The grand opening of the building was in April 2010, and it came into full use in the academic year just ending.
What are remarkable about the building itself are the innovative spaces it contains for digital arts creation and
exhibition. These spaces are the result of many years of careful, collaborative design and implementation work by
many people, but none more so than three staff members of ITS in the Arts Division, Peter Harris, Eric Mack and
Lyle Troxell. Lyle and Peter were closely involved in the planning from the beginning, working to define the size,
shape and technical aspects of the building’s spaces. Peter, Eric and Lyle were closely involved in the construction
effort. As construction neared completion, they were crucial in the outfitting of the spaces with infrastructure and
equipment. And finally now that construction is complete and the building is occupied, Peter and Lyle especially
have designed services that put the building’s spaces to optimal use.
There are many excellent spaces in the DARC, but this nomination focuses on four—the Dark Lab, the Light Lab,
the Rapid Prototyping Lab and the Digital Imaging Lab (a.k.a. "The Cellar")—and the services that support them. A
brief description of each follows.
Description of Facilities and Services
DARC 108: Dark Lab
The Dark Lab is a 40’ x 40’ performance space with 30’ ceilings. It is designed with numerous wire raceways under
the floor and in the walls, containing wiring for lighting, sound, video and data. All wiring is accessible at many
points throughout the space, and runs to a theatrical control booth and other control points. The lab has a pipe grid
for lighting; standard fixed theater lighting; and robotic, programmable theater lighting that can be scripted with a
computer program. It is outfitted with sound for theater including 8.1 Surround Sound, a long-throw theatrical
projector, smaller projectors and work lights. Floor, walls and ceiling are black.
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The lab can seat about 130 people. DANM uses this space for exhibitions, performances, visiting speakers and
conferences. It can be quickly reconfigured.
DARC 306: Light Lab
The Light Lab is a smaller space on the third floor, approximately 25’ x 25’ with a 16’ ceiling. Walls and ceiling are
white. It can be used in a traditional gallery format for showing 2D art. The lab can also be darkened for
installation and performance art.
Lighting control, sound control and projection are available. Around the perimeter of the lab are floor to near-ceiling
cabinet doors that conceal extensive space, which can contain hidden parts of media installations. A projection
screen doubles as a window shade and converts, when the screen goes up, to one of the most striking views on
campus of the Monterey Bay. The Light Lab, like the Dark Lab, can be quickly reconfigured.
Rapid Prototyping Lab
The Rapid Prototyping Lab, currently spread over multiple spaces, consists of a laser cutter, an automated milling
machine, vacuum-forming machine, a drill press, electronics workbench, and a variety of other tools. Students use
this equipment to fabricate parts for a variety of installation and performance works. Equipment was
conceptualized, researched, ordered and installed by Lyle Troxell.
Equipment for Checkout
The DANM program provides extensive equipment for student checkout. Available are audio recording and
playback equipment, projectors, video and still cameras, laptops, iPads, computers, monitors and so on. Again,
Lyle Troxell decided what to buy and how much of it, and made the equipment available once it arrived.
Training and Consultation, DANM Facilities
Incoming DANM students attend a two-week intensive training, organized by Lyle Troxell, prior to the beginning of
the school year. Topics include video and image editing, programming, software and hardware for creating and
controlling art installations, introduction to DANM equipment and spaces, web applications, etc. Students can
receive individual consultation from Lyle Troxell on technical aspects of their projects.
DARC 121: Digital Imaging Facility
DARC 121 (The Cellar) is a 1500 square foot state-of-the-art digital imaging facility that replaces the Art
Department's "wet process" color darkrooms.
The room is a neutral color space specifically designed to meet international standards for color viewing. There are
15 student workstations, all equipped with the fastest available iMac computers, which provide input (scanning of
prints and negatives) and output (color ink-jet prints) ability. Students have 24 hour a day access to eight 17" wide
Epson Stylus Pro printers, each of which provide the capabilities of a color darkroom augmented with the
advantages of modern technology (speed, precise control, higher quality output, greater accuracy, wider choice of
media) with none of the hazardous effluents generated by traditional photo processing. Mural capabilities are
provided by two 24" wide and one 44" wide Epson printers. Scanning hardware includes four Epson flatbed
scanners and three Nikon film scanners, which provide access to legacy images (traditional film and prints) and
also function as "bridge" technologies between traditional medium-format film and digital output.
All work is carried out under normal room light. Instructional support is provided by an instructor's workstation that
can display on a large plasma screen at one end of the room, or on an even larger video projection system at the
other end, and by screen-sharing software that allows the instructors to display their screen at all workstations.
Training and Consultation, Digital Imaging Facilities
Peter Harris offers four or five orientation lectures at the beginning of each quarter, followed by a few specialized
presentations to classes (scanning, profiling, etc.) Instructors will occasionally meet their classes in the lab for
demos (maybe twice or three times a quarter). Help with imaging projects is available to students during extensive
consultation hours provided by Peter Harris and a staff of student monitors.
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Interoperability and integration
The Digital Arts Research Center leverages campus infrastructure, and is integrated into existing services,
wherever possible. The wired networking to and within the building was installed and is served by the central
campus networking service (ITS/NTS). The wireless networking in the building utilizes the campus standard
service, Cruznet. Physical security is provided by wireless Omnilocks, using the standard service offered by the
campus lock shop and ITS. File service to the Digital Imaging Lab is provided via ITS/Arts Division’s ongoing file
service (specializing in the large files generated by arts users), simply by adding disks to an existing disk array.
System administration of the DANM servers is provided via an existing service in the ITS/Arts Division.
For the 3D and performance spaces in the DARC, a key question faced by the design team was how to build
spaces in which to create and display the emerging —and continually changing—art forms of digital art and new
media. In response, given a fixed amount of square footage and a rapidly shrinking budget (to the point that
groundbreaking on the building was imperiled), the spaces were designed to be quickly and highly reconfigurable,
able to be used in many different ways, often simultaneously. In DANM Chair Warren Sack’s attached letter of
support, he notes, “[A]t the reception for this year’s MFA exhibition, over the course of just one evening, we used
the Dark Lab initially to display an interactive light and music art installation (one of the MFA artworks), then it was
reconfigured for a presentation by a visiting curator, then it was converted back to show the artwork, and finally it
was completely reorganized to accommodate the performance of an opera.” One could argue that the creation of a
space that can be used in four different ways in a single evening is both innovative and operationally efficient. It is
hard to imagine many spaces where this would be possible.
For the digital photo facility, a key challenge was to create a color-neutral space of the highest standards—for
creating color-accurate works from postcard to mural size on a variety of materials—at a reasonable cost. This
turns out not to be an inordinately expensive proposition, it simply required a lot of research and vigilance, almost
entirely by Peter Harris. Peter educated everyone about the appropriate standards for lighting, paint, flooring,
furniture and so on, and made sure they were adhered to. When a false ceiling was to be eliminated due to budget
constraints, Peter went to great lengths to make sure everyone understood that the resulting exposed and vibrating
HVAC infrastructure risked damaging the artwork of those laboring underneath it. The drop ceiling was reinstated.
As Art Professor Lewis Watts writes in his attached letter of support, “The [Digital Imaging Lab] with its increased
capacity is, without a doubt, one of the finest digital imaging labs in the country.”
These facilities are unusual in a higher education setting. “Black box” performance spaces are not uncommon, but
the Dark Lab, especially, is far more wired, and more easily reconfigured in more different ways, than a standard
black box space. Prototyping labs are becoming more popular in the artistic and academic communities, but this
implementation for artists at UCSC is certainly an early example. As for the digital imaging lab, it is a jewel of a
facility, a high-end professional space.
The kind of innovative thinking that creates these facilities and the services that make them useful—and what
makes this project worthy of a Sautter Award, I believe—necessarily started at the beginning, as the building was
being conceptualized. This required continued focus and dedication through the grand opening and beyond.
Further, this work is the result of extensive and ongoing collaboration among IT staff in the Art and Theater
departments and the DANM program. Theater technician and IT specialist Eric Mack was the creative brains
behind the “wired-ness” of the Dark Lab especially—what wires need to go where. Eric and Lyle worked together
extensively to wire and light the spaces in the DARC. As well, many of the lessons we have learned in building
reconfigurable spaces for digital artists, and in creating color-neutral spaces for digital photographers and
printmakers, are readily shared. And finally, as noted, the building makes use of existing infrastructure and
services wherever possible.
I hope you will agree that the work of Peter Harris, Eric Mack and Lyle Troxell in creating innovative new facilities
and services for the arts is worthy of your consideration for a Larry Sautter Award.
Standard fixed theater lighting
Robotic, programmable theater lighting
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Sound for theater, including 8.1 Surround Sound
Long-throw data/video projectors
Numerous wire raceways, containing separate wiring for lighting, sound, video and data, accessible at
many points throughout the space, leading to the control booth and other control points.
Paneled walls for hiding parts of media installations.
Pipe grid for light hangs
Rapid Prototyping Lab
Epilog Legend 36EXT 120W laser cutter
Automated milling machine
Formech vacuum-forming machine
Equipment available for checkout
Audio recording and playback equipment, decks, speakers, mixers, etc.
Projectors of various sizes and brightness
Cameras, video & still
Portable devices: laptops, iPads
Digital Imaging Facility, “The Cellar”
16 27" iMacs, all core i7, 8 gigs RAM.
One 8-core tower runs a high-end print server and RIP for technical management and operation of
All workstations connected through gigabit ethernet, four terabytes of storage online for users.
Eight Epson Stylus Pro 4880 (17" wide)
Two Epson Stylus Pro 7900 (24" wide)
One Epson Stylus Pro 9900 (44" wide)
3 Nikon LS9000ED film scanners take 35mm and medium-format film.
One Nikon Coolscan 5000 take 35 mm film.
Four Epson v700 flatbed scanners for flat (or reflective) art and film.
Industry standard dimmable GTI "PDV" series viewing booths at each workstation and a GTI "VPI"
series viewer for murals.
Color management using basICColor software suite supported by X-Rite DTP-42 spectrophotometer
and DTP-70 spectrometer:"Display" (for monitor cal); "Catch" (gathers data from DTP-42, which reads
printed patches for paper profiling); and "Print" (generates the profile.)
Room meets CIE (International Commission on Illumination) standards for color viewing and evaluating:
Walls are painted Munsell 8 (a special neutral grey),
Work surfaces are black,
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Floor is a neutral gray,
Room illuminated by dimmable GTI fluorescent tubes (same as in viewers), illuminant matches the D50
60" plasma display at one end is used for color critical demos to large groups.
Large screen presentations at other end of room w/video projector (both driven by portable instructor's
Planning: 2002 - 2008
Construction: 2008 - 2010
Grand Opening: April 29, 2010
First full academic year of use: 2010-11
Customer Satisfaction Data
1. The Digital Imaging Facility is the most traditionally configured space, the only space primarily used by
undergraduates, and the only one for which traditional user metrics are useful. Here is a summary, with the implied
assumption that the substantial usage demonstrated by these metrics equates to user satisfaction:
Usage is very heavy, with about 200 users having access per quarter.
The facility currently serves about nine Art Department undergraduate classes in photography and
printmaking, and at least 25-30 independent study students (illustrators, printmakers, photographers,
graphic & visual artists) per quarter.
All DANM grad students have access.
During the day it is not unusual to see all workstations occupied, although use is heaviest at night and in
the evenings. It is quite common for students to work into the early morning hours, often all night.
Over the past 12 months users have produced the equivalent of more than 36,000 11" x 14" prints.
2. As further customer satisfaction data for the Digital Imaging Facility, please see the attached letter from Lewis
Watts, Associate Professor of Art (Photography).
3. For customer satisfaction data for the other facilities, please see the attached letter from Warren Sack, Chair of
the Digital Arts and New Media Program.
4. As further customer satisfaction data for the Dark, Light and Rapid Prototyping Labs, please consult the
websites of the 2010 and 2011 DANM MFA exhibitions. They describe the MFA project for each student. As with
the Digital Imaging Lab, the implied assumption is that substantial and varied usage of these facilities equates to
customer satisfaction. For example,
Joe Cantrell’s “Shift Register” was an installation in the Light Lab.
Levi Goldman used the vacuum-forming equipment of the Rapid Prototyping Lab to create “Completion
Andrew Pascoe’s “God: The Opera” was performed in the Dark Lab.
To create “Sight:::Sound:::Touch”, Dustin Raphael created numerous user interface parts on the laser
cutter. The piece was installed in the Dark Lab and was very popular among exhibition visitors.
The pieces by Aaron A. Reed and Phoenix Toews employed iPads (from the equipment checkout function)
encased in handles that allowed them to be carried around like a hand-mirror. These cases were
fabricated in the Rapid Prototyping Lab.
Lyès Belhocine fabricated many parts for his “Sounds Interesting…” in the prototyping lab. The finished
project was installed in the Dark Lab. There was often a line to be one of the four people using it.
Drew Detweiler’s “Roda de Video” was a video-intensive installation using three data projectors and user-
interface parts made on the laser cutter. The piece was installed in the Dark Lab.
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Chris(Topher) Maraffi’s “Mimesis & Mocap: Realizing Craig’s Ubermarionette as the Synthespian of the
Future” was a live theater piece performed in the Dark Lab.
The pieces by Belhocine, Detweiler and Maraffi all occupied the Dark Lab at the same time.
Antoine A. Jaoude’s “CCI (Culture Custom Identity)” was an installation in the Light Lab.
Elizabeth Travelslight’s “Elsewhere “was installed in the Light Lab.
Photos of several of these pieces appear on the web pages (previously cited in the Project Description section) for
the individual facilities.
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UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA CRUZ
Lewis Watts, Associate Professor BASKIN VISUAL ARTS E104
PHONE: (831) 459-1322 1156 HIGH ST.
FAX: (831) 459-3753 SANTA CRUZ, CALIFORNIA 95064
CELL: (510) 484-8462 voicemail
October 26, 2012
To Whom It May Concern:
I am very happy to write in support of Peter Harris, the IT Technician in the Department of
Art. I have worked closely with Peter for the past ten years as the department as a whole
and photography in particular moved to expand the inevitable development of digital tools
and methodology in our curriculum. We have spent the majority of that time, designing the
space and technical needs for imaging in the Digital Arts Research Center which opened
last year. Peter has played a very significant role in the development of the state of the art
digital photography center. He researched options for software, server capacity and
hardware as well as working to create an environment that was conducive to student
innovation and creative production. Peter also helped to design and appoint the
photography classroom and other aspects of the new building.
The new space with its increased capacity is, without a doubt, one of the finest digital
imaging labs in the country. Peter’s contribution to the planning and design has insured
that it will remain viable for a good period of time, which is important in the current
climate of limited economic resources and limited shelf life of equipment. His many hours
of research and follow through with attention to detail, beyond his work schedule is a
prime reason for the success of this educational resource. Peter Harris is very deserving of
high recognition for this effort. Please contact me if I can provide additional information.
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