From acoustic to electric, from analog to digital, Todd Larson has seen and heard it all. First as a music student, then as a photography and filmmaking major, then as a new media installation expert, and now as an associate director of user support services, he helps anyone translate an idea into sound and image.
His path to now has been variable but inevitable. Studying music at Normandale Community college (as a bassist) led to a string of bands (Brazz, Slice, and others) and studio sessions, mostly in the jazz/funk vein. His music studio experience fed a growing fascination for media technology, though his arrival at MCAD took an unlikely detour:
“I thought I was going to be an illustrator!” Larson laughs. “I thought I could draw. My grandfather was an artist, and he really encouraged me.” But upon arrival, he realized he would have to re-learn how to draw, which made it easy for him to get sidetracked with photography and video courses, which seemed more natural fits due to his existing audio experience.
As a student, Larson was still performing around the Twin Cities in various bands, but after graduation he began working media and performance events at the Walker Art Center. “I once had to tell Yo-yo Ma to 'Stop rehearsing right now,' because the audience was already at the door,” he muses.
His work at the Walker, in addition to years of freelance sound design for artists’ projects, made him an obvious candidate for a full-time position at MCAD when technology needs of the school exploded in the nineties.
With digital making and learning, “there’s always something new,” Larson notes. Over the course of nearly two decades, he made giant strides in bringing MCAD up to digital speed, including helping get fifteen MCAD classrooms become full-fledged digital, high-resolution, interactive audio/visual environments.
“I wanted the classrooms to run as simply as an ATM menu,” he explains. “They should be push-button-ready, with no learning curve. People appreciate that.”
In 2014, Larson said goodbye to MCAD and headed for warmer weather and the California College of the Arts where he serves as the associate director of user support services.