Courses taught

Math, Art and Logic

Fall 2015: [ Math, Art and Logic course website ]

In this class, we will explore computation logically, historically and artistically by focusing on an early history of computation and cybernetics. Beginning with the birth of software and science fiction in the early 1800s, to gendered computation in WW2 through to the geodesic dome in the 1970s, we will look at ways that math has solved problems of communication, computation and control, and ways that some artists have contributed to or utilized each mathematical, logical or computational moment. We will consider these topics through assigned projects, discussions, readings and studio time.


Programming and Electronics

Fall 2015: [ Programming and Electronics course website ]

This course will introduce students to practical applications of physics, programming, and electronics by designing and building functional interactive electromechanical devices. This course will cover basic elements of programming (Processing and Arduino), electronics (basic circuits, Arduino, sensors and actuators), and physics (mechanics, dynamics, energy conversion, and structural forces). Concepts in math and physics will be reinforced through their application in designing, building, and programming electronic and electromechanical projects. The course assumes high school level competence in algebra and trigonometry. A laptop is highly recommended.


Data, Networks and Visualization

Fall 2015: [ Data, Networks and Visualization course website ]

In this course, we will study the history of information and networks as they came to be conceived in the 20th-c. We will use this history to shed light on current trends in the digital humanities and think critically about the prevalence of big data and networks. We will use the Processing programming environment to explore visualizations of various kinds exchanges, metadata, and networks. We may find ourselves considering what the limits of data and networks are. This course assumes foundation level knowledge of programming.


Seminar: 21st-Century Toolkit for the New Media Artist


Spring 2015: [ the course website ]


What should be in the toolkit for an artist working with new media? What do artists need to know, what skills do they need to have and what contexts are they working in? What is the 21st-century shaping up to be? With crises of global warming, gross inequality and an increasingly networked world, the stakes are high for the survival of humans and non human species alike. Good art identifies worthy problems and/ or tries to solve good problems often with a unique set of tools. In this class, we select from a range from readings — from Alan Turing to Wendy Hui Kyong Chun — to identify good problems and in order to consider a range of artistic approaches and solutions. Relationships that comprise the digital and urban commons are studied for their limits and for their promises of survival. We look at a range of new media, participatory and biological art projects, hacker spaces, mesh networks, cyberpunk ethics as well as freeway food forests and illegal unpasteurized milk drops. We scour the fringes of our cybernetic utopia to understand our past with a goal to survive in the future together. We will write, but we will also draw and diagram. In final presentations, students present and defend their 21st-c artist toolkits.


Studio: Programming and Electronics


Spring 2015: [ the course website ]

This course will introduce students to practical applications of physics, programming, and electronics by designing and building functional interactive electromechanical devices. This course will cover basic elements of programming (Processing and Arduino), electronics (basic circuits, Arduino, sensors and actuators), and physics (mechanics, dynamics, energy conversion, and structural forces). Concepts in math and physics will be reinforced through their application in designing, building, and programming electronic and electromechanical projects. The course assumes high school level competence in algebra and trigonometry. A laptop is highly recommended.


Studio: Advanced Topics in Logic and Art


Spring 2015: [ the course website ]

Information, Networks and Visualization.
In this course, we will study the history of information and networks as they came to be conceived in the 20th-c. We will use this history to shed light on current trends in the digital humanities and think critically about the prevalence of big data and networks. We will use the Processing programming environment to explore visualizations of information exchanges, metadata, feedback, homeostasis, and networks and to consider what the limits of data and networks are. This course assumes foundation level knowledge of programming.


Studio: Math Art and Logic in Early Computation


Fall 2014: [ the course website ]

In the Critical Studies Division at the California College of Art.
In this class, we will explore mathematics logically, historically and artistically by focusing on an early history of computation and cybernetics. Beginning with the birth of software and science fiction in the early 1800s, to gendered computation in WW2 through to the geodesic dome in the 1970s, we will look at ways that math has solved problems of communication, computation and control, and ways that artists have contributed to, resisted, or utilized each mathematical, logical or computational moment. Each class will include units on basic programming. We will consider concepts through assigned projects in the Processing programming language, discussions, readings and programming-based studio time. No previous programming experience is required.


Lecture: The History of New Media


Spring 2014: [ the course website ]

In the Film and Digital Media Department at the University of California Santa Cruz.
We work to interpret how technological history gets written in the face of certain ideas of information and definitions of freedom: in what context, by whom, and in the service of what commercial interests or intellectual traditions (and at the expense of what bodies). This course is largely a study of the history of cybernetics in the 20th-century, the conditions and ideologies which made it possible and then embraced by military, hippies, mass culture. As we unpack these conditions and ideologies, we apply our critical skills to unveil how these ideologies persevere in the everyday objects, interfaces and interactions of our new media. The materials supporting our inquiry are films, science fiction novels, theoretical texts, and essays. Our work will materialize as image analyses, reflective memoirs, collaborative presentations, and other writings.


Lecture: Introduction to Digital Media


Winter 2014: [ the course website ]

In the Film and Digital Media Department of the University of California Santa Cruz.
“Students will learn how to analyze the philosophical, political and cultural forces and foundations that constitute, contextualize and are catalyzed by the technologies and techniques of digital media. We will read a number of historically significant texts from the last 60 years that help define digital media. Lectures, sections and demos will compliment the readings by introducing students to a number of methodologies useful for the study and presentation of digital media. Throughout the term students will work on projects that advance their “code literacy” by helping them learn skills necessary to participate in and produce new media art. By the end of the quarter students will be both critical observers and active participants in digital art and new media.”


Studio: Social Information Spaces - of Classrooms, Emergencies, and Urban Commons


Spring 2011: [ the course website ]

In the Film and Digital Media Department of the University of California Santa Cruz.
Our classroom is a social information space. As such, it is a forum where we as participants engage in various kinds of information exchanges. We observe what it means to dispense and accumulate information, particularly in regards to power. We challenge the assumptions about who holds knowledge in a typical 21st-century classroom, and ways our physical spaces reflect these assumptions. Emergencies are situations that have their own information spaces; these spaces are fluid, frequently ad-hoc and collaborative. Through mapping, digital networks, and an orientation to resource bases are approaches to space in emergency situations. Social formations facilitate the flow of resources, coordinate safety measures, and relay executable information. Urban gardens are another social information space that work at the cutting edge of civilization, frequently undoing concentrations of wealth. The urban gardening movement is deep in the trenches, thinking through alternative governance strategies, new approaches towards a more equitable disribution of resources and, of course, how to bioremediate the urban landscape. Information in this context is embodied and responsive.

In this class we investigate the classroom, emergency situations, and urban gardens to think critically and creatively about how our networked culture can facilitate new power relationships that foster greater learning and greater resilency.


Lots of Lectures: Introduction to Issues in Digital Media


Spring 2011 : [ the course website ]
Fall 2011 : [ the course website ]
Winter 2012 : [ the course website ]

I taught this course 3 times in the Art Department of the University of California Santa Cruz.
What happens to art and culture when more than just a few people have access to the technologies of production and distribution? What happens when art is seen as a process, as participatory or as intervention rather than as an object? What happens when scientists start making art and artists start doing science? How do networked cultures transform individuals, communities and the sharing of resources?

Subjectivity, play, aesthetics, public space, politics, community, copyright, and even life itself are key topics that get reworked by networked, distributed culture. The lectures of this course introduce students to key problems and opportunities at play around these topics, and the ways in which digital artists engage and expose them. As the history of digital art has many intellectual lineages that converge, students are presented with an array of short texts and artworks addressing cultural manifestations such as the cyborg, the virus, as net.art, smart mobs, virtual space and more; these manifestations in turn often serve as the focal points for discussion around our weekly topics. It is important to keep in mind, in our handling of issues in digital media, that we consider the digital both as a medium for artistic expression, and as an essential tool in the creation of works whose final iteration might not take digital form.

Fundamentals for a digital arts practice are introduced in sections and worked out in small projects. Students develop core technical skills including beginning HTML & CSS, Photoshop and Flash; we develop core conceptual skills around the role of art in relation to the problems and opportunities at play in networked and distributed culture, and aspects of culture that get reworked or are abandoned. Finally, core perceptual skills develop in tandem with the conceptual and the technical; the aesthetics of code, the quality of immersive play, and basic principles of design are introduced.


Seminar: Art and Power in Participatory Culture


Winter 2011: [ The Course Website ]

At the Art Department of the University of California Santa Cruz.
For most of its history, art and artists have been complicit with the power structures they have operated within. Increasingly in the 20th-century however, there have been movements to trick, haunt, resist, or reroute dominant regimes of power. In this class, we articulate different kinds of power, we come to see how “power-over” is known to function in disciplinary and control societies, and we gain a critical grasp of an increasingly participatory culture. From these articulations, we evaluate the goals and the successes of an array of art projects that, in some manner, address flows of power.

By the end of the course, students can expect to have developed their writing through becoming familiar with a range of participatory and new media artworks as well as some of the critical discourses these artworks are situated within.


Studio: Computer as Medium


In the Film and Digital Media Department of the University of California Santa Cruz.
Winter 2010


So Many Studios: Fundamentals in Digital Media


Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2010
Winter 2011 : [ the course website ]
Summer 2011 : [ the course website ]

I taught this course multiple times in the Film and Digital Media Department of the University of California Santa Cruz.
This course is a hands-on introduction to digital media technologies: the methods, tools and concepts of a digital/ new media art practice. It is meant to inspire, provide launching points for personal and collaborative exploration, to provide resources as well as foundational skills for creativity. This quarter our technical focus is on digital practices that include drawing, photo manipulation and web design. Our technical, how-to manual draws from the Bauhaus school, a school that emerged in Germany in the early 20th-century and was dedicated to new forms of design that responded to industrialization and modernity. Perceptually, one of our tasks for this course is to study the Bauhaus approach to design while considering how this approach can be updated for the needs of the 21st century. Conceptually, we make a study of collapse and restructuring, of the unmaking and remaking of our world, be it environmental or financial; how are our digital media practices situated in these turbulent times?


Seminar: Senior Reading Seminar in New Media


In the Film and Digital Media Department of the University of California Santa Cruz.
Winter 2009