SCSA Study Centre Scenic Arts

The Study Centre for Scenic Arts (SCSA) is a not-for-profit cultural association with the aim of creating a pan-European ‘open laboratory’ to promote the collective skills of scenographers and other design professionals, which will provide a platform for the spread of knowledge and creative drive through a constructive effort to strengthen the relationship between technology and professionals and emerging talent.

Our primary aim  is to bolster the collective activities, schemes and initiatives that have vocational training as their prime objective, that lead to the enrichment of an all-round technical and creative knowledge for practitioners of their craft within the entertainment community. The Centre’s syllabus is designed to further develop the career prospects of young architects, scenographers, lighting and sound designers and artists; stimulate the exchange of know-how and the circulation of ideas and projects at a European level, and develop opportunities, integration and cooperation among design professionals working in European Member States.

Technology and research

The Study Centre Scenic Arts will also set its sights on the professional world, offering refresher courses for production designers, architects, set decorators and costume designers, through initiatives set up with sector experts and firms specializing in technology for the entertainment industry.
Technological innovations and computerized systems now provide practitioners of the visual arts with new opportunities to express themselves through the use of cutting-edge tools and advanced techniques, creating new stimuli while offering fresh possibilities for visual representation. Behind the use of these technologies, however, lies the inventiveness and sensibility of the artist, who employs these new instruments as a means to transmit his or her creative vision, regenerated by the use of computer-aided tools. On the other hand, art is also defined as “that certain something” that excites an emotional response, whether that sentiment be a positive or negative reaction, whether created by traditional or innovative means. The nature, versatility and maturity of contemporary digital devices has naturally found one of its primary applications in  the realization of visual effects for film production and, though at times one perceives an excessive and unjustified abuse of these methods, it is important to consider just how much we have become used to noticing countless details in the reality that surrounds us, comparing it with film fiction while refining our visual tastes. This thirst for “visual perfection” has generated the need for the birth of new structures and professions, whole industries of the moving image, adequately regulated, professional, brimming with talent and technical expertise. A no less important chapter is reserved for research applied to multimedia and computerized technologies. New technology also means that science plays an integral part in the field of art. It is no longer thinkable, for example, for an expert familiar with computerized systems to not have a basic idea on the usage, manipulation and quality of images and interfaces, just as an art expert cannot ignore the educational aspects of a mathematical or scientific nature when navigating the intriguing pathways of interactive tools. Technicians, artists and the commercial sector all share an increasing need of each other, and in particular for a continual, boundless bringing up to date through which every new, unanticipated result or creation is made possible. The same, identical situation exists in the theatrical world, for example. The traditional stage production often sees professionals and practitioners working on the same show and to the same end yet it is almost as if each were isolated from the rest, each convinced of being the indispensable agent, whether they be the actor, the director, the stage designer, the musician or the stage technician. Interactivity therefore seems to be a guiding concept particularly in the field of training where courses in specialization and research centres represent the missing link between the academic world and that of profession and production. Specialization and research that demonstrate results in clear, rhythmic measure, meant for widespread adoption and – why not indeed – aimed at the marketplace. The SCSA will also develop a research and information-gathering facility, compiling data originating from the field of further education (public) and from the technology domain (private), and from areas of experimentation and the professional world as a whole, making public the results, developments and production with regular frequency and by adequate means (for example, a collaboration with theatrical institutions and with coordinated e-learning methods).

Historiography:  from analysis to documentation

A Study Centre by definition, among its objectives are included research and documentation of the history of scenography.  Being a Study Centre Scenic Arts, in this context it is logical to suppose that the collective professional skills and expertise brought within the Centre by all those practitioners that contribute to the creating of sets for film, theatre and television productions inevitably acquire greater significance. For the very nature of production design, that of being a means that effectively materializes as it is designed, priority is clearly given to its relationship with the studios and the scenery workshops that employ multimedia technology. This is also a valid argument for creating a concrete base of experience and a network of genuine communication between those who study scenography, being future practitioners in the entertainment community, and the sites and structures where sets are constructed, geared towards the distinct specific requirements of film, stage (plays, opera, ballet) and television productions. All this, however, does not cover all the functions of a Study Centre. An additional function is provided in the form of a technical committee made up of historians expert in art history, costume, set design, theatre, stage direction, ballet and music. They will be responsible for research in preparation for publication of a series of monographs on design, the analysis of precise periods of artistic history in which set design and costume design have been developed. For the technical committee a panel of experts will be selected, each being responsible for a particular subject-matter. In addition, the committee will also work on providing text for “Notebooks”, the distribution of which, together with the monographs and critical studies relative to particular periods in craft history, will be primarily oriented towards teaching aids for history related subjects for students in art and design schools, universities and faculties of architecture. Authorial texts of a technical nature on Production Design and Costume Design are in short supply because these subjects are usually approached either in a light-handed way by journalists or by others who are not particularly qualified to do so. A set or stage designer’s training, his ability to distinguish himself through a personal, mature style is not merely a question of talent and the sum of knowledge gained of a technical or multimedia nature, it is also a question of culture and information gleaned on the history of his craft, which in every period in history has always been the consequence of a specific historical-creative-economic cultural climate, among other factors. To share this and to be aware of this means to understand that what we do is in the spirit of the time.