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Donna McCracken

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Fulbright award allows professor to study German visual culture

November 17, 2004

SPRINGFIELD - Michael Miller, assistant professor and chair of the Visual Arts Program at the University of Illinois at Springfield, was among the recipients of a Fulbright Scholar Grant that allowed him to take part in the 2004 Fulbright German Studies Seminar, “Visual Culture in Germany: Film, Television, and the Internet,” held last summer.

The seminar explored the role of visual media -- especially film, television, and the Internet -- in shaping and expressing European culture in general and German culture in particular. Participants met with German media scholars and media professionals to discuss such topics as whether there is a distinctive German visual media culture and to what extent offerings of various visual media are more international than others. Seminar participants visited universities, media research centers, and media production sites in various German cities and screened selected films and television shows. Discussion also touched on the political and economic implications of media production in Germany.

Related Links

Michael Miller: Artist's Statement
Fulbright Program Website

Miller’s particular interests in contemporary German culture relate to the interaction of digital and fine arts. “My hope was to gain knowledge of the history of digital media in Germany and instances of its use and presentation in gallery, art center, and museum settings,” he said. “I wanted to explore whether Americans’ attitude or response to these media differ greatly from the German response and whether German visual artists use this new set of tools and concepts in a markedly different way than their American counterparts.”

Miller continued, “Like many in my generation, I was raised on television and video games. I have always been fascinated by the accelerated obsolescence of video game graphics and computer-generated movie effects. Movie plots and game concepts don’t vary much; it’s the visual component that constantly changes, or is upgraded and improved. Whole digital vocabularies are constantly replaced and relegated to the scrapheap. The subjects of my own work are drawn from this junkyard of derelict images.”

A painter and digital artist, Miller has exhibited extensively in the U.S. and abroad. He has taught studio art at the college and university level since 1995, and is an avid proponent of new media in the visual arts, including digital print processes, web development as fine art, and hybrid works that combine traditional practices with new technologies. In addition to his teaching duties at UIS, he also serves as director of the campus’ Visual Arts Gallery.

In 2000 he received the commission to create “Memory Journal,” an artist’s book for the inaugural exhibition and permanent collection of the John F. Kennedy Museum in Fort Worth. His other awards include the Rackham Thesis Grant Competition Award and the 1991-93 Fellowship Grant, both at the University of Michigan, and the 1987-91 Nordan Fine Arts Scholarship at Texas Christian University.

Miller holds an MFA in painting from the University of Michigan and a BFA in painting from Texas Christian University.

Funded by the federal government, the Fulbright Program is America’s flagship educational exchange program. Since its inception in 1946, its more than 250,000 participants have included Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, governors, senators, ambassadors, artists, heads of state, professors, scientists, Supreme Court justices, and CEOs.

    The University of Illinois at Springfield, one of three U of I campuses, is a small, public liberal arts university that offers 42 degree programs – 21 bachelor’s, 20 master’s, and the Doctorate of Public Administration. UIS has a special mission in public affairs and service and is known for extraordinary internships, a wireless campus, extensive online offerings, and a commitment to teaching.