Arts 202: Digital Studio: Code, Recipes, and Spells

Instructor: Margaretha Haughwout
Syllabus: Spring 2018

Still from Martha Rosler's Semiotics of the Kitchen, 1975

Meeting Time and Place:
Class: Monday & Wednesday 9:20-11:10a, Little Hall Room 113 or Little Hall Room 208

Digital Connections:
Course website:
Tumblr site:
Open Processing:

Office: Little Hall 317
Office Hours: Tues 12:00-2:00, Weds 3:30p-4:30p (or by appt.)
Skype: mllebuffalo
Email: mhaughwout at colgate dot edu

Course Description
In this class, we connect conceptual art practices to code, making important links to a range of 20th-century avantgarde practices largely rooted in concept, recipe, instruction, structure, algorithm. We look at canonical computational histories and also find a grounding for code and computation in the arts, in labs, and in kitchens. Students make artworks using instructions, recipes, photos, videos, code, and more. As a result of iteration, remixing, and collaboration, we come question the nature of authorship and artistry, and we come to see art more as a process than a thing, more dynamic than static.

We consider these topics through individual creative projects, discussions, readings and studio time.

to connect digital arts practice to the history of avant garde practice ... 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 ... seeing 21st-century art practice less as a thing & more as a process... acquire creative skills with code and electronics... complicate the division between art and logic ... 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), as well as your attendance of the field trip on March 04. Major points for actively referring to specific excerpts from that week's reading! 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.
A1. Following a Recipe 10% Shoot a video, make a performance, or make a photo essay of yourself cooking your favorite recipe, breaking down the process for your audience. What are your ingredients, what are the steps, how do you personalize the recipe with additions and subtractions, certain gestures...?
Full guidelines handed out in class.
A2. Recipes for Disaster: Processing Monsters 10% Lukas Vojir started making processing monsters in order to learn how to use Processing and promote code sharing. The rules for making a processing monster are simple: strictly black and white (and grayscale) and mouse reactive. To add to Vojir's original prompt, your Monsters should employ conditionals and ideally have a for loop too. Finally, work with Strings and the text() function and quote at least one relevant sentence from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
Full guidelines handed out in class.
A3. Repeating History 10% Find an early example of Computer Art -- something that uses reptition to create an aethetic form. Reverse engineer the work in Processing. You might start by looking at Ben Lposky, Lillian Scwartz, John Whitney, Frieder Nake, Michael Noll, 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering, Stan VanDerBeek, and Manual Barbadillo.... The artwork should replicate the visual elements of the work as well as the mathematical and logical operations.
Full guidelines handed out in class.
A4. Dynamic Conceptual Paintings 5/15% A4a: Write out a conceptual painting. Following in the tradition of conceptual artists like Sol Lewitt write a recipe or instruction based artwork in natural language, develop a set of instructions for a dynamic abstract painting. Review Sol LeWitt's retrospective at MASSMoca (you can click on the thumbnails to see the instructionals), as well as Casey Reas' exploration of his work in Software Structures.. Keep in mind that you will be passing this recipe on to a fellow classmate who will turn the instructions into code....

A4b: Using object oriented programming and functions, implement the instructional/ conceptual painting written by a fellow student in code. Consider the elements of the recipe/ instructional you received and first, turn it into algorithmic pseudocode as described by Daniel Shiffman. This can then be translated into variables and methods, inside of classes that you create.
Full guidelines handed out in class.
A5. Dynamic Transformations 20% Work with a peer's dynamic conceptual painting and translate it into a new medium, or extend it in some way. You might take this prompt quite literally and get aspects of the code to generate mechatronic activity through Arduino, or create other real world activity (two ellipses collide and an email gets sent to a politician?). Or you might translate the code into an entirely new medium -- a performance, or a living sculpture for instance (you take a complex shape and make it into a fashionable hat?)....
Full guidelines handed out in class.
A6. Reading Responses 10% We will use Tumblr in this class to share our work with one another, and for 6 reading responses. Reading responses are due by the Friday after the reading is due, by 11:59p. Reading responses can be both visual and/or written. It must be clear that the text has been read; if the primary response is through visual material, consider adding bullet points that connect the image to the reading so it is clear your are grappling with the text. You can also upload audio recordings. You may only submit one response a week, so budget your responses throughout the semester so that you aren't scrambling to complete your responses the last few weeks of class. Submit the Friday after the reading is due, by 11:59p.

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. Cultivate a curiosity that makes you brim with ideas.
Technical: The technical is the steps we take to accomplish our vision or goal or concept. In this class we will spend a lot of time with code and other 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 the technical.
Perceptual: Understanding formal visual aesthetics, social form, interactive aesthetics, and strategies for audience engagement with artworks are a part of this course. 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.

A -- Excellent. Student exhibits exemplary conceptual, perceptual and technical ability with assignments, and in class. Student demonstrates a close engagement with artworks and readings reviewed in class. All work is lucid and engaging.
B -- Good. Student completes assignments, and demonstrates a creative 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 or perceptual 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.

This class has a course reader available at the Colgate University Bookstore downtown (it should be available the second week of class -- I will let you know).
Don't forget to hit the Resources page frequently for technical tutorials, howtos, etc.

Requirements, Policies, and Thoughts on being 'present'
- You are required to attend Paolo Pedercini's talk on 2/14, Dawn Wileski/ Conflict Kitchen on 3/21 and Walid Raad/ Atlas Group on 4/18, all at 4:30 in Golden Auditorium
- You are required to attend the closing celebration for the Senior Projects in Studio Art on 2/14 following the Pedercini talk
- Attendance of the regularly scheduled ARTS Lecture Series is strongly encouraged. Talks are *usually* on Wednesdays at 4:30 in Golden Auditorium.
- We will have one required field trip to Dia: Beacon on Sunday March 04th. We will leave campus at 8:00am and return in the evening.
- 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.