Digital Art Spring 13 - Outline

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Syllabus | Resources | Student Work | Production Two Manual | Mediography

MCM 0750 - Digital Art (CRN 23872)
Department of Modern Culture and Media, Brown University
Spring 2012


Instructor Information

Name: Mark Tribe
Email: mark_tribe AT brown DOT edu
Office phone: 401-863-7886
Office Location: 155 George Street, Room 101
Office Hours : by appointment
Campus Box : 1957

TA: Eli Cohen: elias_cohen AT brown DOT edu

Course description

What would Andy Warhol's Facebook page look like? What would John Cage have done with an iPod? This introductory production course combines history, theory, and practice to explore the intersection of art and emerging digital technologies. Examples of recent student work include a dance performance lit by cell phones, a Dadaist video game, and an exquisite corpse made with Processing, a programming language for artists. We will examine and critique new media projects by various artists, as well as art historical precursors/influences. Students give presentations and produce media art projects. 

Course Meeting Times and Location

Fridays 11:00 -1:50 pm

Unless otherwise indicated, all course meetings take place in the MCM Production Building, 135 Thayer Street, Room 102 (Production Two)

Course Goals

  1. Explore Digital Art practices, relevant media theory, and related art historical precedents.
  2. Respond to this exploration by producing Digital Art projects that interrogate or extend key concepts and strategies.
  3. Develop skills of observation, analysis, interpretation, and oral and visual communication.


All readings will be available online via links in the syllabus with one exception: Net Works by Xtine Burrough (Routledge, 2012) is available online at various online booksellers, and as a PDF.


Nota Bene: Assignments are not considered complete until they have been adequately documented on the wiki. See How to Document your Project for the Wiki for details.

  • For each project your personal page should contain, at a minimum, the following:
    • A thumbnail image;
    • A project title that links to your project page.
    • A statement that describes your project and sheds light on your intentions and, if relevant, your process.
  • Projects will be presented in class during critique: be sure you have your media ready to go!
  • Late assignments will not be accepted without prior permission from the instructor.

Dates TBD: Digital Art Presentation

Each student will give a presentation on a digital project, or a series of digital art projects, selected in consultation with the instructor. You must use Slides, Google's presentation tool, to both create and deliver your presentation. Don't use PowerPoint and then convert it to Slides, and don't use Keynote, Prezi, or any other presentation software. Don't make text-heavy slides. Do use images and/or embedded video to show the work you are discussing. If the work you are presenting online, it is okay to link to it and demonstrate it directly, outside of Slides.

Possible presentation dates are listed on the syllabus, and you will be asked to select a date during the second class. Presentations must be linked from the student work page and your personal page and should be approximately 20 minutes long. They should include a detailed description along with interpretation and critical analysis of the project, and should make reference to relevant readings and other course materials.


  • Don't read what's on screen (except short quotes, as appropriate). Instead, write up notes for each slide and print them out.
  • Rehearse your presentation to gauge length and work out any rough spots.
  • Relax and enjoy yourself!

Update Project: proposal and sketch due February 15, critique on March 8

Make a digital art project that reinterprets and updates a historical art project from one of the movements we have studied. Your update should be both technological and conceptual. 

Net Art Project: due March 22

Make a work of art that uses Internet platform(s) or technologies *and* engages their cultural and/or sociopolitical significance. Given the short timeframe of this project, a simple, well-realized gesture may be more successful than a grand but half-baked endeavor.

Free Project: proposal and sketch due April 12, critique on April 26

Work independently or in a collaborative group on a digital art project that explores the idea of freedom (as in free culture, free software, freedom of information, free time, free space, free love, free world). If working collaboratively, each member of the group should write a short statement that details his or her own role in the project.

Attendance and Punctuality

Given the participatory nature of this course, it is important that everyone attend regularly and punctually. Please contact the instructor in advance if you won't be able to make it to a class due to an unavoidable conflict or medical condition. Class starts on time, so please arrive on time. Students with multiple unexcused absences or excessive lateness may not pass the course.


Student performance is assessed in four areas:

  1. Quality of production work;
  2. Relevance of production work to the concepts and strategies explored in the course;
  3. Active participation in class meetings demonstrating critical engagement with course material (readings, screenings, art works);
  4. Attendance and punctuality.

A Note on Technical Skills

The emphasis in this course is not on technical mastery but on understanding digital media technologies as tools and sites for creative cultural practice. Some students will come to the course with advanced digital media production skills, others with very limited skills. This is OK! Advanced skills are not necessarily needed in order to make advanced art.

The most important skill you can learn how to teach yourself to work with new tools and technologies, rather than depending on somone else to teach you. There is no substitute for learning by doing. Try to maintain a playful and experimental attitude, remembering that there is no wrong way to make art.


Syllabus | Resources | Student Work | Production Two Manual | Mediography

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