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"I wanted a space where I could stop thinking of myself in one dimension—as a composer, always, as a writer, separately."

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Student Profile: Matthew Toffoletto

Interactive Arts & Technology Master's Student in the Faculty of Communication, Art & Technology

January 28, 2021
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I'm from Houston, Texas, and I finished my bachelor's there in 2019 at Rice University, where I studied music and linguistics. I'm a composer, focusing on chamber music and acousmatic music. I'm also a writer, working in the space between prose and poetry and on the role of sound and language in narrative and poetics. I'm interested in scholarship on and philosophy of language and art: as an undergraduate, I wrote about the relationship in cognition and culture between language and music, and as a graduate student, I'm focused on the conceptual and cultural nature of music, narrative, and performance, especially in theatre.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?

I came to SFU for the School of Contemporary Arts—the faculty, the program, the students. I wanted a space where I could stop thinking of myself in one dimension—as a composer, always, as a writer, separately. I wanted to blur the lines between all the different things I've been trying to do since I started creating art, and at the SCA I can be any kind of artist I need to be. I can wait until my work takes the shape it's trying to.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR RESEARCH AND/OR PROGRAM.

I work, broadly speaking, on expanding the shape that art can take and reinventing the relationship that people have to art and artists in the world—that's what Contemporary Arts is all about, that's what everyone in this program is here to do, in their own way. We want the creative imaginary (and the cultural reality) to have new activations in the lived worlds across the 21st Century. We want individual and communal relationships to creativity to be renewed and diversified in ways that help actualize those individuals and communities, and we do that by toying with the ways art comes to people, the ways it sits in their lives, the ways it speaks and transforms.

WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?

The program in Contemporary Arts is immersive and critical—and grounded in expansive relationships to fellow artists. In this space, even remotely, I've found new vibrancy in my relationship to my own artistic research and creation. I could hardly imagine going anywhere else to reinvent my creative focus.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PROGRAM/POSTDOC POSITION TO SOMEONE STILL SEARCHING FOR A PROGRAM OR POSTDOC POSITION?

The Contemporary Arts MFA program balances critical studies—theory of art, culture, politics, through critical writing and reading in film theory, philosophy, art history, critical anthropology—with active collaboration and exploration in cross-disciplinary creation. It provides a common space to navigate questions of art's shapes, its divisions, its boundaries, and its relationship to a living world.

HAVE YOU BEEN THE RECIPIENT OF ANY MAJOR OR DONOR FUNDED AWARDS?

Special Graduate Entrance Scholarship

Contact Matthew: mpt6@sfu.ca

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