Select Filter

Select one or more filter categories.

Ideas, Progress & the Future

Where industry and institution collide: Meet new FAD Executive Dean Julian Knowles

The University of Canberra has welcomed Professor Julian Knowles, a media artist, researcher, and former academic from Macquarie University, as the new Executive Dean for the Faculty of Arts and Design.

He joins the University at a pivotal time for the creative arts sector; Public debate rages on around the role of Artificial Intelligence in the arts, and it’s potential to unseat humans as artists, writers, creators and designers.

As an artist whose approach lies at the intersection of technology and creative practice – Julian sees opportunity in change.

“The way shifts in technology change society have always fascinated me, and I've taught myself many new skills because of that interest,” Julian says.

“There are major discussions now about AI and how it will be positioned in the future as a creative tool, but also the ethics of AI, in terms of the way that it learns and gathers material from human labour and human effort.

“I'm excited by this – there's more opportunity than there is threat. I would encourage students to embrace that future and figure out how you can position yourself advantageously in relation to it.”

Man stands on staircase

In his most recent project, Julian explored the role that live data and sensing can play in the creative process.

Solar Halo, delivered in New York in 2023, created a poignant viewing experience through audio, visual and live performance. The project involved using live data from eight weather stations in the Victorian Alps region and eight weather stations in the New York City area.

“There are international discussions about global warming and climate change, and numbers are thrown around like: ‘two degrees of warming’. These sort of data points can become quite abstract to the average person,” Julian says.

“So, this work is an attempt to bridge this huge concept – global warming – by bringing audiences closer to experiencing weather systems, through creative work and live performance.

Creativity and the arts can play a really important role in connecting the public to big issues.

In a world that often feels plagued by the big issues, and a media environment that seems to thrive on delivering bad news, Julian thinks that it’s important to see the positive, and the opportunity between the lines.

“The world is probably a more positive place than you are led to believe through doomscrolling!” Julian says.

“It's really important to remind ourselves of that and to think independently and critically about the kind of media diet that we consume on a daily basis."

Julian is confident in the benefits of a university education for providing the skills, knowledge and mindset to thrive and evolve along with the world.

“I have been in higher education for 30 years, and I've taught a lot of students in that time. I'm 100 per cent sure that it doesn't matter what you study – if you are a committed student with an inquiring mind, you have the capacity to make a great career for yourself in whatever you choose to do,” Julian says.

University isn't a place in which you come out knowing all that you’ll ever need to know. What you gain are the underlying skills that allow you to become an effective, agile learner, and the skills that will position you well in your field.

As he embarks on this new academic appointment, Julian’s personal work as an artist, and a contributing member of the industry, is never far behind.

Julian remains the current chair of Music NSW. He also continues an active career as a performing musician, record producer and artist.

One of Julian’s guiding principles throughout his career has been to stay connected to industry whilst working in the institutions.

“I’ve always remained committed to maintaining an active, professional practice. I believe that what institutions should be doing should always be closely linked with what's currently going on in the industry, not some form of industry from ten or 15 years ago,” Julian says.

“It's quite difficult to do – your academic role places a lot of demands on you – but I think the dividends in my experience have always been really substantial.”

Story by Kelly White, photographs by Liam Budge

Community Connections

Inspiring Women: Jen Webb

Distinguished Professor of Creative Practice at the University of Canberra Jenn Webb talks about the impact of creative practices and collaboration, being a feminist researcher, and the continuous enchantment she finds in her work.

Alumni Stories

Putting engineering to work in service to the community

Award-winning engineer and emerging leader in the Australian tech sector, Bryce Cronin’s passion for harnessing technology for social good has seen him impact many – this year, he’s a finalist for the Chancellor’s Rising Star Award at the University of Canberra’s Distinguished Alumni Awards.

Arts & Culture

Mada’s magic career

Adam Brindley couldn’t have foreseen his future as career magician Adam Mada – or that his University of Canberra bachelor’s degree would help him transform that business in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alumni Stories

GRADS 2021: Dan Polgolla

Dan Polgolla was at a crossroads in life … and just as he found his path, he was badly burned in a horrific kitchen fire. Last week, Dan graduated with a Bachelor of Communication and Media from the University of Canberra – he talks about emerging from his worst moments to find his best.