Open Source Culture Spring 11 - Outline

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Syllabus | Resources | Student Work | Production Two Manual | Mediography | Main Page of Mark's Wiki

MCM 1700N: Open Source Culture
Department of Modern Culture and Media, Brown University
Spring 2011
Course website: or google “Open Source Culture Spring 11”


Instructor Information

Instructor: Mark Tribe
Assistant Professor
Department: Modern Culture and Media
Cell: 917.848.2218
Office: 155 George Street, Room 101
Office Hours: Tuesdays 5-7pm
Web Site:

TA: Ariel Hudes
Cell: 610.999.2829

Course Description

Where do we draw the line between sampling and stealing? What does it mean to call a urinal a work of art? This course explores the tension between artistic appropriation and intellectual property law, and considers recent efforts to use open source software as a model for cultural production. We will trace a history of open source culture from Cubist collage and the Readymades of Marcel Duchamp through Pop art and found footage film to Hip Hop and movie trailer mashups. Students give presentations and produce media projects. Readings include Roland Barthes, Nicholas Bourriaud, and Rosalind Krauss.

Meeting Times and Location

Wednesdays 10:00am-1:45pm

Production Two, MCM Production Building, 135 Thayer Street


1. Develop an understanding of artistic appropriation, intellectual property law, open source software, and how these domains intersect in contemporary culture.
2. Produce media art projects that respond aesthetically and conceptually to course material.
3. Learn to critique art projects rigorously and constructively.


The course packet is available at Allegra (corner of Thayer and Waterman) and as a PDF.

You will be responsible for introducing several readings over the course of the semester. Some guidelines:

  • Do a little research into who the author is, when the text was written, etc., looking for intellectual and historical context;
  • Spend about five minutes summarizing the author's argument(s);
  • End your presentation with a question to kick off discussion.


  • Select an example of open source culture in consultation with the instructor;
  • Make a presentation using Google Docs and add it to the student work page on the wiki.
  • Your presentation should be no more than 20 minutes long and should:
    • Include not only detailed description but also interpretation and critical analysis of the work;
    • Make reference to relevant readings and other course materials.

Production Assignments

Nota Bene: Assignments are not considered complete until they have been properly documented on the wiki and linked-to from the student work page and from your personal wiki page. Late assignments will not be accepted without prior permission from the instructor.

Collage, due February 23

  • Combine found images to produce a poster.

Remix, due March 23

  • Combine found footage to produce a short video (five minutes or less).

Hack, due May 4

  • Collaborate with other students to produce a hack.


Student performance will be assessed in three areas:

1.     Quality of production work;

2.     Relevance of production work to the concepts explored in the course;

3.     Participation in discussions and critiques;

Attendance and Punctuality

The highly participatory nature of this course makes attendance particularly important. Plan to attend all course meetings and to arrive on time. Please contact me in advance if you won't be able to make it to a class due to an unavoidable conflict or medical emergency. Students with multiple unexcused absences and/or frequent lateness risk failing the course.

Course Application

Available here

Syllabus | Resources | Student Work | Production Two Manual | Mediography | Main Page of Mark's Wiki

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