Arts 201: Digital Studio

Instructor: Margaretha Haughwout
Syllabus: Fall 2017

"You are intelligent," he said. "That's the newer of the two characteristics, and the one you might have put to work to save yourselves. You are potentially one of the most intelligent species we've found, though your focus is different from ours. Still, you had a good start in the life sciences, and even in genetics."
"What's the second characteristic?"
"You are hierarchical. That's the older and more entrenched characteristic. We saw it in your closest animal relatives and in your most distant ones. It's a terrestrial characteristic. When human intelligence served it instead of guiding it, when human intelligence did not even acknowledge it as a problem, but took pride in it or did not notice it at all. . ." The rattling sounded again. "That was like ignoring cancer. I think your people did not realize what a dangerous thing they were doing."

- From Dawn by Octavia Butler

3 Types of Networks by Paul Baran

Meeting Time and Place:
Class: Monday & Wednesday 9:20-11:10a, Room 113

Course Website with Course Schedule:

Office: Little Hall 317
Office Hours: Weds 3:20-4:20, Thurs 2:00p-4:00p (or by appt.)
Skype: mllebuffalo
Email: mhaughwout at colgate dot edu

Course Description
This course is a hands-on introduction to a range of 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, as well as foundational skills for creativity. This semester our technical and aesthetic focus is on fabrication, multiples, networked art, code, and electronics. We will read a number of historically significant texts from the last 60 years that help define digital media; we also look at a range of new media, participatory, and biological art projects, hacker spaces, mesh networks, and cyberpunk ethics. We develop core conceptual familiarity with the role of art in relation to the problems and opportunities at play in networked and distributed culture. We explore the quality of immersive play, and the social form of digital art and new media. Towards this end, we creatively consider relationships that comprise the commons and ask about their limits and their promises for survival. We scour the fringes of cybernetic utopias and dystopias to understand our past with a goal to survive in the future together. By the end of the semester, students will be both critical observers and active participants in digital art and new media.

to understand the political, participatory, and social contexts for digital practice... understand the kinds of problems digital art and new media address, expose, complicate and solve ... how to navigate utopias and dystopias that digital technologies are implicated in... seeing 21st-century art practice less as a thing & more as a process... acquire digital skills with vector programs, fabrication, code and electronics... connect a digital practice to relationships, networks, and systems beyond the screen...

Assignment Descriptions & Grade Breakdown
/participation 20%. Your participation grade covers your attendance and your upbeat, dynamic engagement in classes and class activities (See attendance requirement/ policy below). Major points for actively referring to specific excerpts from that week's reading! Note that attendance, and attendance of the Garcia, and Cave events are required (Nick Cave has 3 performances this semester -- choose one to attend, or maybe even participate in!) We also have an Oct 06 installation scheduled, and a field trip Nov 12. If you are generally quiet in class, or otherwise concerned about how I might perceive your engagement, come see me so we can strategize your participation so that it is comfortable yet challenging to you, and trackable for me.
Another note on participation: Learning digital tools and processes can be hard and sometimes intimidating. We have to ask questions, and yet for some reason we are scared to (why?). In this class I will reward you if you keep asking questions until you get it, and those of you who are eager to help your peers. We often need to hear something explained in a different way in order to understand.
/personal:persona website [A1] 10%. Develop a website to house your semester's work. Full guidelines given in class in Week 2, due Friday Sept 15 (see assignments page for link to full description).
/the 6th E project [A2] 15%. Drawing from canonical theoretical essays such as Benjamin's The Artwork in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, art movements such as the Fluxus, street art, as well as recent DIY and craft movements, you will create and employ the mechanically reproduced object, or the 'multiple', to address an aspect of the 6th Extinction +/or the Athropocene. Your multiple might address environmental solutions, education, human survival or the survival of other species, +/or address some aspect of a speculative future (utopian or dystopian). Due in class on Oct 13.
/code instructional [A3] 5/15%. Following in the tradition of conceptual artists like Sol LeWitt we will write a recipe or instruction for a dynamic abstract painting in natural language and then build one of our peer's instructional. Due Date Weds Nov 01 before class.
/digital avant garde/ plan for final [A4] 5%. Research and develop plan for final. Full guidelines for A4 and A5 outlined here. Due Sunday Nov. 26.
/final project [A5] 20% You will work with a received dynamic painting that a peer has created (it will be emailed to you); you will take it in a new direction inspired by the methods of an avant garde art tradition of your choice (and that you have researched), and you will make it interactive in some way. Due Date Thursday Dec 14. Regular check ins to determine progress throughout the last 4 weeks of the semester. Full guidelines for A4 and A5 outlined here. Due Thursday Dec. 14th.
/class exercises 10%. We will have in-class exercises demonstrating various technical processes throughout the semester. When prompted, I will ask students to email me their work or post it to their websites.

Grading Rubric:
Conceptual: A good concept is a new perspective on a problem, a creative solution to a problem, and/or a deepening and complication of a problem. Good conceptual work draws from readings, class conversations and lectures, political savvy, and profound observation. In this course, try and look at things differently than usual, and explore what is means to be comfortably uncomfortable and uncomfortably comfortable. Try playing around in a medium you're unfamiliar with.
Technical: Technique means different things to different artists. Fundamentally, we can understand the technical to be the steps we take to accomplish our vision or goal or concept. In this class we will spend a lot of time with digital tools, which require a lot of attention to step by step processes -- this attention will impact your grade positively. Care, effort, attention and awareness of process are qualities of technique.
Perceptual: The care that you put into your work in the finishing stages is essential and reflects the level of importance you give to your work. Understanding not only visual aesthetics, but social form, interactive aesthetics, and kinds of audience engagement with artworks will be a part of this course.

A -- Excellent. Student exhibits exemplary conceptual, perceptual and technical ability with assignments, and in class. Student demonstrates a close reading of the any required materials. All work is lucid and engaging.
B -- Good. Student completes assignments, and demonstrates a grasp of most of the main aspects of each lesson, but not all. Is able to express ideas well.
C -- Satisfactory. Student completes the assignment but may lack enthusiasm or drive to push the work into a detailed conceptual space. Student does not demonstrate knowledge of readings, lectures or other visual material. Problems exist in student's work, or the work is underdeveloped.
D -- Unsatisfactory. Student does not complete the work as assigned. Substantial problems exist in student's work.
F -- Fail. Student does not submit work, or work is below unsatisfactory level.

All readings for this course will be offered as PDFs and links through the courses schedule page. It is highly recommended that you use some of the budget you allocate for books on printing out your assigned readings. Most of us do better reading print rather than digitally. This also allows you to make notes in the margins and highlight important quotes. Finally, it reflects well on you to bring the printed texts to class and will likely result in a higher participation grade.
Hit the Resources page frequently for technical tutorials, howtos, etc.

Requirements, Policies, and Thoughts on being 'present'
- Attendance of the Scherezade Garcia talk and the Nick Cave talk and one of his performances are required. See schedule for details.
- Attendance of the regularly scheduled ARTS Lecture Series is strongly encouraged. Talks are *usually* on Wednesdays at 4:30 in Golden Auditorium.
- We have a public art project slated for installation in the Ho/Olin tunnels on Oct 06, and the reception will be early evening on October 13th. These events are required.
- We will have one required field trip to Mass MoCa on Sunday November 12th. We will leave campus at 8:00am and return in the evening. Note that we will not have class at all the following week.
- Class attendance is mandatory. 3 unexcused absences will result in a 10% reduction of your overall grade. 6 missed classes will result in a fail. 3 lates equal one absence.
- We will frequently use digital devices in this class, which means the temptation for distraction will be high for all of us. At the same time, we will often be learning technical processes that require our full attention in order to master. Use the SelfControl app by Steve Lampert to limit possible distractions. If I see social media in active use 3 times during the semester, this counts as an absence, which is sad times.
- If your life takes a difficult turn, seek out resources and be proactive. Things only become more difficult if skipping classes becomes the operative means of coping. Communication is key. - If you are an athlete, be organized and communicate. Give each of your professors a schedule at the start of the term, and discuss how any absences will be addressed.

Learning and Support
We all learn in our own ways. While many different kinds of engagement with the course material are required, some of us will move through this class more conceptually, some more perceptually, others more technically, still others more rationally. Some will process the material in solitary ways, while others may be quite vocal. I expect to see visual, auditory, and linear learners. Please talk to me as soon as you can about the ways I can support your learning modes. If you do not have a documented disability, but feel you need some help, do remember that the Center for Learning, Teaching and Research is available to you ( Your success in this class is important to me.
Also, regardless of ability or degree of formality, all of us can benefit from receiving constructive feedback on our writing or public speaking. At the Writing and Speaking Center, a free service for all students, consultants can help you make sure your ideas are coming across. All meetings are private. See for more information.

The Digital Studio
The Digital Studio is A FUN STUDIO, largely yours, to be respected and maintained by all students enrolled in the class and interested in digital media. Feel free to play music. Use it, enjoy it -- and then clean up when you are done! Be safe and be sure to ask Mark Williams (office is next door) for help if you need it.

End of Term Clean-up
Your storage area and all work must be cleaned out by the end of the day following your final exam, unless I've asked to retain your work. Work cannot be stored in the studio until the following term.

Email Netiquette
Netiquette, Noun: 1. The social code of network communication. 2. The social and moral code of the internet based on the human condition and Golden Rule of Netiquette. 3. A philosophy of effective internet communication that utilizes common conventions and norms as a guide for rules and standards.
In your subject header, include a couple of words about your question/comment -- ie:

subject: Digital Studio assignment question

Allow for a 48 hour response time from the professor (if it is urgent, please put URGENT in the subject header for quicker response time)

One Other Thing
This syllabus is subject to change at the professor's discretion.