Faculty and Staff
Dane Webster is an Associate Professor and the new Director of the Digital Animation Center in the Department of Visual Arts at CU-Denver. Before coming to CU-Denver, he was an Associate Professor in the School of Visual Arts (SOVA) at Virginia Tech and former Director of the MFA in Creative Technologies there (a program that he helped create). He was also a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT), a research center focused on the intersection of art & design with science & technology. He has taught various courses in 3D computer animation and creative coding.
“As a creative technologist, my research takes a hybrid approach, with my work sitting at the intersection of scholarship and practice, the creation and application of new knowledge. Not only am I comfortable with the blurred boundaries of these enterprises, I enjoy the iterative processes the challenge of interdisciplinary processes introduced in my work. As an artist, I’m passionate about creating worlds, building experiments investigate my own ideas about the overlaps of art and science. My short films and installations, like With Delicate Risk and Always Uncoupled, investigate the intersections of creation myths, evolution, and the simple reactive qualities of a virtual biological form. The still images in Organica are abstractions influenced by my interpretations of the microscopic realm. Elements of this exploration are even found in my pure, escapist short films such as Idea Development . While on the surface, this story might be about an individual confronting writer’s block; under the hood, it allows me to play the role of a scientist, constructing worlds within the computer, exploring the use of virtual physics, anatomy, light, and sound. Recently, I’ve begun to use code as an expressive tool, working with the open-source development environment Processing. The ability to create generative, interactive art has given me new ways to express national concerns related to health, such as onset, which tries to challenge the way we think about individuals with early onset Alzheimer’s.
As a practitioner, I often work with groups outside of the arts, creating visualizations applicable to history, science, architecture, and education. My projects help 4th graders in the state of Virginia learn about the lives and values of a recently unearthed Native American settlement; they allow administrators to embed in a visualization of a single building project their commitment to creating an arts-centered campus that values aesthetic as much as function; and they enable researchers to think through the nuanced impacts of a simulated disastert situated in the heart of an urban population. As an extension of my commitment to collaboration, it is important that I share with my student's participation in projects that illustrate how art can affect change. In the past, some of my students and I have worked with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History to create content for an augmented reality app (we animated a vampire bat skeleton). In a related project, we transformed mechanical engineers into animators by modeling and rigging CT scans of bat noses that they could digitally manipulate to better understand physical morphology as it relates to sound emission. It is in this role as a practitioner that I have been able to identify funding sources that would not be available to me (and my students) if I were trying to operate strictly in a fine art gallery context. Interweaving practitioner and scholar in my artistic practice are one of my strengths, whether it’s exhibiting in national and international venues, identifying funding both as a principal investigator or collaborator, and contributing to peer-reviewed publications. “