This class is an introduction to digital imaging, sound design, animation and video production within the artistic practice. Through a combination of readings, videos, discussions, examples, and presentations, we will be building a strong base comprehension of the history and issues related to the field. The emphasis in this course is not on technical mastery but on understanding digital media technologies as tools for creative cultural practice.
Term: Fall 2008
Course number: 60110
Classroom: CYH 100
Days / time: Monday Wednesday 08:30AM - 11:20AM
Professor: Paolo Pedercini - paolop [at] andrew [dot] cmu [dot] edu
GA: Nina F Sarnelle - nsarnell [at] andrew [dot] cmu [dot] edu
Office: School of art 411 - 4th Floor
Office hours: By appointment

Upon completion of the course students will be able to:

> Work creatively with Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash (for animation), Audacity and Dreamweaver.

> Approach critical issues related to art and cultural production in the digital age.

> Discuss their works in the context of new media art and in relation with pop culture.

> Attendance: three or more unexcused absences result in the drop of a letter grade.

> Absences: you are responsible for what happens in class whether you’re here or not. Organize with your classmates to get class information and material that you have missed.

> Participation: you are invited, encouraged, and expected to engage actively in discussion, reflection and activities.

> Net addiction: you can exist for few hours without tweettering, facebooking, chatting, texting or emailing. Any device for mediated communication is banned during theory classes, crits and discussions. A .5% grade reduction will result from being found using them.
During the lab hours you will be allowed to network as long as your behaviour is not disruptive.

> Assignments: late assignments are only accepted with permission of instructor. You lose 10% of your points per day late up to a max of 7 days late.

There are two kinds of assignment:

Readings: during the course you'll be required to contribute to an online discussion around the assigned short texts. No reaction papers, just a smart articulated comment on a blog.

Short studies: short studies are meant to introduce you to specific technical tools but inquiry and experimentation are encouraged and expected.

> Glamorization and aging
1. Photograph yourself in front-on close up view using a digital camera.
2. Retouch the image to look as "beautiful" or "handsome" as possible according to the glossy magazine standards of beauty.
3. Age your original portrait to look at least 20 years older. Take inspiration from your parents.


> Digital collage
You have to produce two deliverables for this assignment:

1. Painting sabotage
Choose a well known painting and add some external elements to achieve a surreal / comical effect. Send it to a chinese painting factory to get your "original copy". [example]

2. Photo montage
Create a compositions blending photographic images from at least 2 different sources. You can use pictures downloaded from the Internet, archival images or scanned material. Don't produce original source material for this assignment. [example]

> INDUSTRIAL sound collage
Make a concrete music composition / soundscape / sound collage only using the provided environmental recording. The composition doesn't necessarily have to be "musical" or "rhythmical" and the original sounds don't necessarily have to be recognizable. Grading criteria: Creative use of Audacity tools Use of multiple sources Technical execution (the piece shouldn't have distortions, clicks and pops unless it's a specific aesthetical choice)

> Typographic composition
Create two vector graphic works in illustrator using only text. The text can be meaningful (as in concrete poetry) or can be simply used as an aesthetic element. You can radically modify the types as long as they remain recognizable as text. Don't use unusual funky fonts, try to be creative with the default fonts like Arial, Helvetica, Futura, Trebuchet, Times new roman etc. Comic sans is strictly forbidden.

Create a laser-cutter friendly graphics for a stencil in illustrator. Try to do more than simple text. Use your stencil in a real world situation (walls, sidewalk, chalk powder, reverse graffiti, T-shirt...) and produce some photographic documentation. Please don't get in troubles for vandalism! Format requirements: - file formats .ai and .eps - 20 x 18 inches maximum size - all lines must be .001 inches thick - the final file must have no fills (no black or colored areas, only outlines) - if you're using multiple layers you need an .ai files for each layer.

> Abstract synesthetic animation
Make a short animation in Flash based on a sound source of your liking. The sound can be music or spoken words. You don't necessarily have to be artsy and pick some experimental / atonal piece for you soundtrack but at least try to choose something more interesting than a Britney Spears song (Sure, Britney Spears is awesome but her music is already associated with a lot of visual stuff, do you know what I mean?). The visual elements must be vector based and possibly not figurative. Some text is allowed but try to avoid the Kinetic Typography clichés, that stuff is so 2007. [example]

Make a short stop motion animation. Try to avoid elaborate claymations, puppetry, traditional 2D or cut-ups that would require a lot of pre-production. Use people or ready made ojbect. Originality and storytelling is more important that hard work (i.e. looong animations of dudes moving without walking like Tony vs Paul).

Your final project can be a continuation / extension of a previous assignment or a completely new project. It has to be produced using the tools we covered in this semester or, at the very least, it has to be in the realm of digital media production. You don't have a lot of time to work on it so you are not expected to produce a masterwork (this is not a "capstone" kind of assignment) but you are required to make something vaguely meaningful and conceptually consistent. In other words it shouldn't be just a technical exercise. All the projects should be presented and discussed in class (or via email) before you start working on them.



10% Glamorization and aging
10% Digital collage
10% Industrial sound collage
10% Typographic composition
10% Stencil
10% Abstract synesthetic animation
10% Stop Motion animation
15% Final Project
15% Readings, class participation and optional assignment

Bonus: if you want to make up for a bad grade you can write a 2 pages (or more) reaction paper for two of the suggested readings. This extra effort will positively affect the final grade.

> The required text for this course is:

Digital Foundations: Intro to Media Design
By Xtine Burrough & Michael Mandiberg
Published by New Riders

This is a very useful manual for beginners. You are exhonerated to get it only if you already have a substantial knowlede of the Adobe suite tools.

> These are the suggested readings you should consider if you don't want to sound dumb when you're talking about new media. To get an extra grade you have to pick TWO of them and write a 2 pages reaction paper.

M. McLuhan, The Medium is the Message (from Understanding Media)
W. Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
S. Sontag, On photography
H. M. Enzensberger, Constituents of a Theory of the Media


Week 1
Intro to the course
In class exercise: Warholization (Photoshop)
Skills: basic color theory, intro to Photoshop, color modes, resolution, raster graphic formats, basic image adjustment etc.

Week 2-3
Photoshop beauty
The myth of beauty, evolutionary arguments, women in advertising

Screening: Wet Dreams and False Images, A girl like me
Assignment: Glamorization and aging (Photoshop)
Skills: photo retouching tools, layers, clones, airbrushes etc.
Reading: D. Haraway, A cyborg manifesto

Week 4-5
From collage to remix culture
Dada, plagiarism, detournement, digitalization, copyright vs fair use

Screening: RIP: remix manifesto, Painting village China
Assignment: Digital collage (Photoshop)
Skills: acquiring images, layers, compositing, advanced image adjustment, transformations etc...
Reading: Copyright online discussion

Week 6-7
Sound and Noise
Futurism, J. Cage, musique concrete, soundscapes, industrial music

Screening/listening: The Awakening of a City, Ballet Mécanique, Etude aux chemins de fer, Imaginary Landscape n.4, 4'33'', Throbbing Gristle - Still Walking, Einsturzende Neubauten - 1/2 Mensh, Merzbow – live.
Assignment: collective sound collage (Audacity)
Skills: compression, sound formats, sound editing, filters & effects, stretching and pitch shifting, multi track
Reading: L. Russolo, the art of Noises

Week 8

Art of words
Typography and the avant-gardes: suprematism, dada, futurism, surrealism, fluxus. Visual and concrete poetry. Conceptualism.

Screening: Helvetica
Assignment: typographic composition (illustrator)
Skills: illustrator, working with fonts.

Week 9

The empire of signs
Semiological guerrilla, subvertising, culture jamming.

Screening: No Logo - Brands Globalization Resistance
Assignment: Stencil (illustrator)
Skills: illustrator, vector design
Reading: Chapter from AD NAUSEAM: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture

Week 10-11

Synesthesia from Kandinsky to VJing
Synesthesia vs sensory fusion, visual music, music visualization, VJ

Screening: Works by Hans Richter, Oskar Fischinger, Norman McLaren, Lillian Schwartz, John Whitney, Young-Hae Chang heavy industries, Michel Gondry, Alvanoto, Keiichiro Shibuya, Marius Watz.
Assignment: Abstract synesthetic animation (flash)
Skills: intro to Flash, tools, animation, symbols, sounds

Week 12-13

Stop Motion
Nina Sarnelle Talk and workshop

Background illustrations by Dan Hillier