When the idea of establishing a master institute in one campus was first mentioned in 2016, some voices questioned the undertaking. With steadfastness the institute was established and opened its doors in September 2017. The four master study pathways of St. Joost School of Fine Art & Design, which had been spread out in Breda and ‘s-Hertogenbosch, were brought together in one location, reutilizing the voluminous former building of the Post NL Distribution Center in Den Bosch.
Where did the idea for the name Master Institute of Visual Cultures originate? Visual Culture is concerned with visual events in which information, meaning or pleasure is sought by the consumer in an interface with visual technology (Mirzoeff, 2009). These questions and theories have a distinguished history in the arts and humanities, as visuality has shaped cultures since earliest human existence. Visually motivated decisions are made in all aspects of our daily lives. In this time of rapid cultural and technological change, the human experience is now more visual and visualized than ever before . In light of this, the interdisciplinary exploration of this topic is relevant and socially indispensable in its efficacy to critically analyze art history, media theory, popular culture, cultural studies, journalism, queer theory, digital platforms and sociology.
Since 2018, the Master Institute for Visual Cultures has begun to research this domain across its master pathways, and in doing so, is providing the isolated and often scattered beginnings of interdisciplinary research on visuality and culture with a new institutional basis. Through the imaginary potential of artistic practices, art is a form of knowledge that contributes to the many fields of enquiry and reflects on the countless ways in which knowledges are created.
A great deal has happened in a short period. The number of staff conducting research at the institute has more than doubled. We have established the necessary infrastructure for administration, IT, and services as well as creating studio spaces that are open 24/7. We have initiated and strengthened cooperative relationships with institutes and cultural organizations both within and outside the Netherlands. In partnership with our Expertise Centre Caradt, we have been able to welcome to our institute leading international figures from art, science, politics, and culture as part of our public programme of events.
Much has been achieved, but we are of course still in a period of development. We need to stay focused on our goals: principally to facilitate students with an excellent education, conduct innovative practice-led research, expand our network with other (international) educational and cultural institutes, work with our creative industry network further, and be an integral member of the cultural community in the Netherlands.
The programmes at the Master Institute of Visual Cultures are fully accredited by the Dutch higher education authorities and comply with European standards as set by the Bologna Agreement.