Professor Małgorzata Łuszczak – study visit at Ostravská Univerzita v Ostravě (University of Ostrava)

Game and Virtual Space Design – innovative development of second cycle studies based on the experience of a foreign partner”, Priority 4: Higher education and science, Measure 4.1.1. Strengthening and development of the didactic potential of universities, Human Capital Operational Programme, at Ostravská Univerzita v Ostravě, Dvořákova 7, 701 03 Ostrava, The Czech Republic, from 5.05 to 2.06.2015.

Visitor: Professor Małgorzata Łuszczak

Summary of the visit:

The visit at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ostrava began with learning about the structure of the Faculty and the functioning of its art studios. Particular attention was paid to Departments of Fine Arts, namely:

Department of Graphics and Drawing, Department of Intermedia Studies, Department of Sculpture, Department of Painting and Department of Theory and History of Art. During the visit, most meetings with the academics involved two Departments: the Department of Graphics and Drawing and the Department of Intermedia Studies.

Especially interesting were the classes on experimental graphics taught by the Dean of Faculty, Marek Sibinsky, PhD and Zbynek Janacek, PhD. The classes are focused on new media which allow for creating digital graphics and virtual spaces and are a very inspiring material for video game graphics developers.

The Department of Graphics of the University of Ostrava conducts interesting experiments where classical techniques are combined with other media, such as painting, drawing or performances which demonstrate the search for the place of graphics in public space, forming a kind of theatre or game in which the audience find themselves in spaces made by visual techniques.

Also very interesting is the theme that is strongly inspired by fantasy and focused on creating imaginary worlds referring to literature, art and video games. This was evident in Eliska Cabalova’s book arts workshop combining great editorial skills in book design with interesting drawings and illustrative graphics showing different types of creatures, hybrids and ghosts, based on the observation of nature and its motives. I observed such didactic methods in Denisa Janska’s animation workshop which is organized in close co-operation with the QQ Studio. The co-operation between universities and professional animation studios is very important and gives students a chance to interact with experienced experts with high practical knowledge.

Skills/qualifications acquired during the visit:

During the study visit I acquainted myself with the process of educating future designers, graphic artists and animation artists using different techniques – from traditional to digital and mixedmedia. I found out that moving beyond fixed notions can present the audience with spaces, including virtual spaces, that are a kind of game because those who observe them need to interact with them: move them, avoid them, become a screen and so on.

Unusual books, both physical and virtual, were created in the book workshop: interactive, requiring the reader to interact through comparing and browsing – browsing is a kind of game here. Works from the Faculty of Intermedia Studies in co-operation with the QQ Studio from Ostrava are also very interesting.

Applying the acquired results, skills and qualifications:

During the visit, I familiarized myself with the curriculum and the didactic methods applied. I also saw the tangible and virtual results of their implementation. The comprehensive knowledge gained this way will enrich or modify the curriculum for digital graphics, character design, interface design and graphic environment of game courses.

The variety of techniques, together with relevant didactic methods in art education at the Faculty of Arts in Ostrava gave me new ideas on how to conduct our teaching in Cieszyn.

An element which is important, but not addressed in Cieszyn, is the design of promotional material for games, e.g. art books. Experiences from Eliska Cabalova’s book workshop are very inspiring, provide food for thought and call for application in the curriculum of our Game and Virtual Space Design course.