New Genres and Interactive Art

New genres and interactive art span offerings in visual arts, film and media, and computer science to foster technical and digital literacy in the arts. Designed for experimentation, this initiative helps students establish digital proficiency while supporting the exploration of a wide range of new media forms and technologies. Courses of study might include visual programming, artificial intelligence, gaming, robotics, experimental animation, computer arts, experimental media design, data visualization, real-time interactivity, digital signal processing, cross-platform media environments, and mobile media development. Students are encouraged to coordinate these project-based investigations of the digital throughout their studies in the humanities, including literature, philosophy, politics, sociology, theatre, and writing.

2020-2021 Courses

Histories of Modern and Contemporary Art, 1860–1955

Open , Lecture—Year

This course is an introduction to modern and contemporary art from 1860 to 1955 and the first of two sequential surveys offered this year. (Students may take either or both.) What was modernism? And how did artists respond to a world ravaged by war, fascism, and imperialism? How did they engage or escape from industrial forms of life and explore shifting national, ethnic, and gendered identities? A central topic of the course is how the history of the Western avant-garde was also the history of colonization and cultural appropriation. And even as the course serves as an introduction to canonical historical avant-gardes in the United States, Mexico, and Europe (Impressionism, Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism, Constructivism, Vorticism, Dada, Surrealism, Muralism, the Harlem Renaissance, and Abstract Expressionism), we will also explore alternative modernisms—including so-called “outsider” art, queer modernisms, and modernisms in India, Japan, and Latin America. This course is an introduction to the discipline of art history, so students will gain a vocabulary for slow looking, learn the values of different kinds of writing about art (manifestos, letters, statements, poems, and art historical and theoretical accounts), and consider art in its social and political contexts. Lectures will offer a broad overview, and 90-minute weekly group conferences will closely investigate artworks by a single, underrepresented artist. Assignments will include visual analysis essays, weekly informal worksheets, brief reading responses, short Zoom presentations, and research essays on underrepresented artists. Students will have the opportunity to work with librarians to research and write new pages on modernist artists across the globe who are not represented on Wikipedia and upload them to that site. Throughout, we will be thinking about the kinds of assumptions and value judgments that go into deciding a modernist canon and how we can create and contribute alternative histories to the discipline.

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Problems by Design: Theory and Practice in Architecture, 1960 to the Present.

Open , Large Lecture—Spring

This course will involve works in philosophy, theory, criticism, politics, and social analysis that deal with the aesthetic, formal, infrastructural, and sociopolitical questions raised by design strategies, buildings, and utopian or speculative projects. Our focus will be on methods and movements such as blobs, dots and folds, fractal form, fractured landscapes, datatowns and metacities, ascetic aesthetic/minimalist consumption, megastructures, themed urbanism, transformational design grammars, and economic models for sustainable growth/development/design. Topics will be introduced in PowerPoint presentations. Authors will include Adolf Loos, Martin Heidegger, Jane Jacobs, Peter Eisenman, Rem Koolhaas, Bruce Sterling, and Anthony Vidler. Buildings will include work by major architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, Louis Kahn, Tadao Ando, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Bjarke Ingels, Elizabeth Diller, and Jean Gang. Movements discussed will include Modernism, Post-Modernism, Formalism, Situationism, Minimalism, Counter Culture, Green Urbanism, and Parametrics. Assignments will involve analytical and critical papers, directed discussions on close reading of texts, historical context for ideas, and buildings that are prescribed, described, or proscribed by theory in practice. This course complements courses on urbanism, visual arts, environmental science and studies, literary theory, physics, and, of course, art and architectural criticism and history.

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Introduction to Computer Science: The Way of the Program

Open , Small Lecture—Fall

This lecture course is a rigorous introduction to computer science and the art of computer programming, using the elegant, eminently practical, yet easy-to-learn programming language Python. We will learn the principles of problem-solving with a computer while gaining the programming skills necessary for further study in the discipline. We will emphasize the power of abstraction and the benefits of clearly written, well-structured programs, beginning with imperative programming and working our way up to object-oriented concepts such as classes, methods, and inheritance. Along the way, we will explore the fundamental idea of an algorithm; how computers represent and manipulate numbers, text, and other data (such as images and sound) in binary; Boolean logic; conditional, iterative, and recursive programming; functional abstraction; file processing; and basic data structures such as lists and dictionaries. We will also learn introductory computer graphics, how to process simple user interactions via mouse and keyboard, and some principles of game design and implementation. All students will complete a final programming project of their own design. Weekly hands-on laboratory sessions will reinforce the concepts covered in class through extensive practice at the computer.

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Digital Disruptions

Open , Seminar—Fall

From TikTok to Zoom, from Bitcoin to Uber, from Instagram to Snapchat, to massively multiplayer online games to the Internet of Things, digital technology plays an evermore "disruptive" role in society. In this seminar, we ponder where this phenomenon may be taking us in both the immediate and the not-so-immediate future and whether there is (or will be) anything we can (or should) do about it. The miniaturization of electronic computers and the resulting increase in computing power, the decrease in short-term cost to harness that power, and the ubiquity of computer networks bring people and places together, making distances formerly thought of as insurmountable evermore trivial. With the advent of gigabit fiber-optic networks, smart phones, and wearable computers, information of all kinds can flow around the world, between people and objects and back again, in an instant. In many ways, the plethora of smaller, cheaper, faster networked devices improves our quality of life. But there is also a dark side to a highly connected society: the more smart phones, the more workaholics; the more text messages exchanged and the easier the access to drones, the less privacy; the greater reach of the internet, the faster the spread of misinformation and the more piracy, spam, and pornography; the more remote-controlled thermostats, the greater the risk of cyberterrorism. The first half of this seminar will focus on the relationship between digital networks (the web, social networks, and beyond) to current events, particularly the economy, politics, and law. In the middle of the semester—in real time!—we will discuss how the digital principles that we are studying impact the November 2020 US elections. The final part of the course will focus on the cultural impact of digital technology, ranging from video games and science fiction to the rise of artificial intelligence. This is not a technical course, though we will at times discuss some details that lie behind certain crucial technologies—in particular, the internet and the World Wide Web.

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Programming the Web: An Introduction

Open , Seminar—Spring

This seminar introduces the fundamental principles of computer science via the use of HTML and JavaScript to create interactive web pages. Examples of the kinds of web applications that we will build include: a virtual art gallery; a password generator and validator; and an old-school, arcade-style game. We will learn JavaScript programming from the ground up and demonstrate how it can be used as a general-purpose, problem-solving tool. Throughout the course, we will emphasize the power of abstraction and the benefits of clearly written, well-structured code. We will cover variables, conditionals, loops, functions, arrays, objects, and event handling. We will also discuss how JavaScript communicates with HyperText Markup Language (HTML) via the Document Object Model (DOM) and the relationship of HTML, JavaScript, and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Along the way, we will discuss the history of the web, the challenge of establishing standards, and the evolution of tools and techniques that drive the web’s success. We will learn about client-server architectures and the differences between client-side and server-side web programming. We will consider when it makes sense to design from the ground up and when it might be more prudent to make use of existing libraries and frameworks rather than reinventing the wheel. We will also discuss the aesthetics of web design: Why are some pages elegant (even art) when others are loud, awkward to use, or, worse yet, boring!

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Intermediate Programming

Intermediate , Seminar—Fall

Permission of the instructor is required. Students should have at least one semester of programming experience.

This course is designed for students who understand the basics of computer programming (whether in Python, JavaScript, or another language) but want to take their skills to the next level. We will use the elegant and sophisticated programming language Haskell to learn about software design, abstract data types, and higher-order functions. We will introduce the basic principles of computational complexity and tree structures. We will emphasize top-down problem-solving, using recursion. We will also learn how to use cloud-based version control; e.g., using git and GitHub. Time permitting, we will learn how to build larger programs that leverage databases and networking protocols.

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Composition

Component—Spring

Composition literally means placing materials (i.e., beings, both animate and inanimate), movements, actions, sounds, words, light, etc. with one another. Composition is the process of creating relationships, both between materials and within time and space. Various faculty members bring distinct approaches to the contemporary practice of artistic creation and composition. This course is taught in and through an embodied practice of dance, but the principles are universally applicable to any art form. Students will be asked to create and perform studies, direct one another, and share and discuss ideas and solutions with peers. Students are not required to make finished products but, rather, to involve themselves in the challenges and joys of rigorous play. This course is most appropriate for students who have already completed Beginning Improvisation.

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TBA

Guest Artist Lab

Component—Spring

This course is an experimental laboratory that aims to expose students to a diverse set of current voices and approaches to contemporary dance making. Each guest artist will lead a module of three-to-seven class sessions. These mini-workshops will introduce students to that artist and his/her creative process. Guests will present emergent, as well as established, voices and a wide-range of approaches to contemporary artistic practice.

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TBA

Lighting in Life and Art

Component—Year

Light is a form of electromagnetic radiation that allows us to see. Light’s qualities and its interaction with space have profound effects on the affect of an experience. We all know that the feel of a midsummer afternoon is not the same as that of a cloudy, gray afternoon or a subway car or a sunset or a night with a full moon. What qualities of light generate these disparate feelings? The art and practice of crafting light is the subject of this component. We will examine the theoretical and practical aspects of light in multiple settings. This will begin with a practice of noticing what we might typically ignore. From there, we will approach learning how to craft the conditions of light primarily, though not exclusively, within a theatrical environment. Understanding the historical conventions of theatre—in particular, those of theatrical dance in the United States—will provide a point of departure to begin to think beyond those historical conventions. Emphasis will be on learning basic lighting skills, including those of stagecraft. Students will collaborate with, and create original lighting designs for, the Time-Based Art works when such needs are appropriate to the artistic proposal.

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Time-Based Art

Component—Year

In this class, graduates and upperclass undergraduates with a special interest and experience in the creation of time-based artworks across various disciplines will design and direct individual projects. Students and faculty will meet weekly to view works-in-progress and discuss relevant artistic and practical problems, both in class and in conferences taking place the following afternoon. Attributes of the work across multiple disciplines of artistic endeavor will be discussed as integral and interdependent elements in the work. Participation in mentored critical response feedback sessions with your peers is a key aspect of the course. The engagement with the medium of time, the constraints of presentation of the works both in works-in-progress and in a shared program of events, and the need to respect the classroom and presentation space of the dance studio will be the constraints imposed on the students’ artistic proposals. While, typically, many of these works might include embodied action that could fall under the discipline of dance, this course is open to any student who is interested in cultivating discourse across traditional disciplinary artistic boundaries, both in the process of developing the works and in the context of presentation to the public. As such, the inclusion of live performers is not a requirement. Toward the end of the semester, within the context of Winter and Spring Time-Based Art Events, this course will culminate in exhibitions, screenings, and performances of the works in a shared program with all enrolled students. The performances, screenings, and exhibitions will take place in the Bessie Schönberg Dance Theatre or elsewhere on campus in the case of site-specific work.

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2D Animation: Short Narratives

Open , Seminar—Year

Instructor: Robin Starbuck, fall; Scott Duce, spring.

In this class, students develop frame-by-frame animation and short-storytelling skills by focusing on the process of creating animated exercises and shorts. Instruction includes story development, visualization, character, continuity, timing, digital drawing, rotoscoping, and compositing. All of the production steps required to complete a short, animated film are demonstrated and applied, in the fall, through exercises that aim at the production of a final short, animated film by each student, or team of students, in the spring semester. Participants will develop and refine their personal style through exercises in story design and animation fundamentals directed at translating ideas into moving images. Digitally-drawn images (with the option to include live action and photographs) will be assembled in sync to sound. Compositing exercises cover a wide range of motion-graphic features, including: green screen, keyframing, timeline effects, 2D and 3D space, layering, and lighting. Working in frame-by-frame animation, students will be provided with a strong working knowledge of Harmony Premier, a creative, efficient, digital software used in the film and TV animation industry. The method of working for students includes digital drawing on a student’s own computer or digital tablet. The teaching system for this as an online course includes small (3-4 students) online group meetings, alternated with one-on-one individual conference meetings with the professor. This system allows students to form community groups while also providing each person with the opportunity to progress according to their own creative interests. If the class meets on campus, we will continue with class meetings and individual conferences. Students must have access to an internet connection and a reliable computer able to handle media software. Course requirements: 1T (min.) media external hard drive and a digital drawing tablet. Software and online meeting system TBA. No prior drawing or animation experience is necessary. 

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Character Design

Open , Seminar—Fall

This course focuses on the concepts of animated motion, drawing form, and character design development as a pre-production stage to animation. Students will gain knowledge in drawing by engaging with formal spatial concepts in order to create fully realized characters both visually and conceptually. Through the development of character boards, model sheets, beat boards, and scale boards, students will draw and conceptualize human, animal, mechanical, and hybrid figures. Students will research characters in their visual, environmental, psychological, and social aspects to establish a full understanding of characterization. Both hand-drawn materials and digital drawing will be used throughout the semester. Photoshop, Storyboard Pro, and Final Cut Pro software can be utilized for character boards, model sheets, and walk-cycle animatics. Students will produce work on their own and engage in both online individual reviews with the professor and group online meetings. Online methods of working for students will include digital drawing on their computer, iPad, digital tablet, or iPhone. Traditional drawings on paper will also be produced, with students photographing or scanning works into a digital format to be reviewed and critiqued through the class online connection. The final project for this course will include a concept-based, fully developed, multicharacter animatic. Knowledge from this course can be used to create and enhance animations, to establish a character outline for an interactive media project, or to help in developing a cast of characters for a graphic novel or narrative film. Preferred software: Storyboard Pro, Harmony, Photoshop, Final Cut Pro X. Alternative Software: Procreate, Clip Studio Paint, ibis Paint, Adobe Fresco, Rough Animator, Pencil2D. Review software: Online meeting system TBA, Drop Box, and Sync Sketch.

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Film and Television: Screen Story Narrative Structure

Open , Lecture—Spring

This lecture will explore and demystify screenwriting for contemporary feature films, television series, and hybrids, which are indeed the blueprints for the ubiquitous programming that has exploded across the myriad platforms and venues in the world of screened entertainment. Through screenings of films and TV shows—coupled with the reading and analysis of attendant screenplays, teleplays, and television pilots—as well as assigned readings on structural theory for the screen, we will delve into the divergence and convergence of screenwriting across a variety of media. We will ask: What is a feature film? What is a feature-quality movie that is premiered on one of the ubiquitous streaming platforms (that seem to proliferate daily)? Is it a TV film? Or a feature on TV? Rather than a TV series, is this material really a nine-hour movie? Or is it a three-hour TV series? How does story structure unfold in the feature-film realm and the television realm? How do the structures in film and TV differ—or do they? How does character intersect with structure? Cinema language, dramatic theory, screen dramaturgy, practical screenplay style/format, and cinematic and TV story structures will be plumbed, including sequencing, episodic, three-act, four-act, seven-act, teleplay, and the so-called character-driven form. This course is for students who love film and television and wish to understand the varied elements that create the narratives to which we are drawn. It is useful for emerging screenwriters, directors, storytellers, fiction writers and playwrights, and anyone who finds themselves laser-focused on a screen—be it a 70mm film image on an Imax® theatre screen or a digital video image on a 136mm iPhone®. The course format will include a combined weekly screening with a lecture, as well as biweekly group conferences.

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Concept Art

Open , Seminar—Spring

This course will explore the preproduction aspects of animation concept development. Students will gain knowledge in character development, background environments, object and prop design, flora and fauna, scene building, color keys, aerial mapping, and techniques for digital painting. Through the development of scene paintings, model sheets, and animatics, students will draw and conceptualize spaces, characters, and props that are visually harmonious and consistent in form and function. Students will research and produce narrative outlines that include visual and environmental components to establish a full understanding of an animated project. Both hand-drawn materials and digital drawing will be used throughout the semester. Photoshop, Storyboard Pro, and Final Cut Pro software will be utilized for character design, background paintings, and concept presentation animatics. The final project for this course will include a fully developed, multicharacter/environment animatic. Knowledge from this course can be used to create and enhance an animation portfolio, establish a concept outline for an interactive media project, and help in developing a cast of characters and environments for a graphic novel or an animated film. Software: Photoshop, Storyboard Pro, Harmony, and Final Cut Pro X.

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Storyboarding for Film and Animation

Open , Seminar—Fall

This is a three credit non-conference seminar class.

This course focuses on the art of storyboard construction as the preproduction stage for graphics, film/video, and animation. Students will be introduced to storyboard strategies, exploring visual concepts such as shot types, continuity, pacing, transitions, and sequencing into visual communication. Both classical and experimental techniques for creating storyboards will be covered. Emphasis will be placed on production of storyboard drawings, both by hand and digitally, to negotiate sequential image development and to establish shot-by-shot progression, staging, frame composition, editing, and continuity in film and other media. Instruction will concentrate primarily on drawing from thumbnail sketches through final presentation storyboards and animatics. The final project for the class will be the production by each student of a full presentation storyboard and a low-res animatic in a combined visual, audio, and text presentation format. Knowledge of storyboards and animatics from this class can be used for idea development and presentation of your project to collaborators, pitching projects, professional agencies, and, most importantly, for you, the maker. Students will produce work on their own and engage in both online individual reviews with the professor and in group online meetings. Online methods of working will include digital drawing on the student’s own computer, iPad, digital tablet, or iPhone. Traditional drawings on paper will also be produced, with students photographing or scanning works into a digital format to be reviewed and critiqued through the class online connection. Preferred software: Storyboard Pro, Photoshop, Final Cut Pro X. Alternative Software: Procreate, Storyboard Animator, Storyboard Fountain, Storyboarder. Review Software: Online Meeting TBA, Drop Box, and Sync Sketch.

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Advanced Projects in Writing for the Screen

Advanced , Seminar—Spring

This class is for the serious, advanced screenwriter. Consideration for entry requires a writer’s statement about the project(s) you wish to pursue, a list of courses taken, and screenwriting experience, as well as a five-page screenwriting sample. The class will be devoted to conceptualizing/reconceptualizing, developing/redeveloping and structuring/restructuring your project, naturally depending upon your starting point. The class will then be devoted to completing a first draft and polishing the project. For those choosing to focus exclusively on short-form work, the expectation may include an additional short screenplay or an outline for another future script. The seminar, workshop, and conference structure will be devoted to this overall process. The candidate’s writer’s statement, list of courses taken, and experience, as well as the five-page screenwriting sample, must be emailed in advance of any interview to fstrype@sarahlawrence.edu, at which point an interview will be scheduled between instructor and student.

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Screenwriting Within the Lines

Intermediate , Seminar—Fall

Previous study in screenwriting is expected.

The landscape for the screenwriter has dramatically changed during the past several years, with new opportunities to write producible short films, YouTube® sketches, and web series seen by millions of viewers, as well as long-form “films” or “movies” initially conceived for, and destined for, the “silver screen”—a screen that is seemingly changing in color, size, and setting on a daily basis. The disarray of the current film and television industry has created confusion and opportunity. Nevertheless, the baseline expectation in the contemporary narrative “screen form” of storytelling still remains: It is the expression of a character or characters progressing through a structured journey or series thereof. Elemental to this process is having your audience believe your characters, believe the universe that they inhabit, and find “truth” in the screen story that you’ve created. In life and in film, we laugh, we cry, we cringe, we shield our eyes, and we stare in wonder when we see and feel the truth. It’s ironic that in our quest to create dramatic fiction, we must actually “tell the truth.” There is indeed a writer’s saying, “A writer must lie her way to the truth.” Lies and truth? Fiction and fact? The audience engages with material when they realize: I’ve been there. I know that feeling. I know that person. I am that person. This course supports the process of finding and expressing truth in fiction. Designed for the emerging contemporary screenwriter and director, the course includes opportunities for those creating a new idea; adapting original material into the screenplay form; rewriting a screenplay, teleplay, or web series; or finishing a screenplay-in-progress destined for whatever screen or screens the writer aims to assail. A review of screenwriting fundamentals during the first few weeks, as well as a discussion of the state of each project, will be followed by an intense online screenwriting workshop experience. Published screenplays, several useful texts, and clips of films, television series, and web series will form a body of examples to help concretize aspects of the art and craft. The methodology of this online course will create three “writers’ rooms” of six writers each to allow a more interactive and productive online experience. There will also be individual, one-on-one online conferences with the professor. Students must have access to a reliable internet connection, a computer with a web-cam, and the ability to use a designated online system (TBA).

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The Art and Craft of Film-Telling

Open , Seminar—Fall

Pursuing the fundamentals of developing and writing narrative-fiction, motion-picture screenplays, this online course starts with a focus on the atomic element of a screenplay: the scene. We’ll explore the nature of writing screen stories for film, television (and its many iterations these days), and the web. The approach to this course was informed by a discussion with writer/director Paul Schrader, wherein he expressed that in his mind, screenwriting has less of a connection to literature and playwriting and more of a connection to the oral tradition of storytelling. His view was that the nature of the screenplay—being expressed in third-person, present tense—is indeed the “telling” of one’s screen story. We will dissect the nature and construct of the screenplay to reveal that the document—the script—is actually the manifestation of this process of “telling” your film (or movie, or TV show, or web series, et al). In Film-Telling, the emerging screenwriter will be encouraged to think of and approach the work as a director—because, until someone else appears to take the reins (if it is not the screenwriter), the writer is the director, albeit (for now) on the page. Indeed, the course will explore filmmaking from a director’s point of view, yet in the hands of a screenwriter. With the class structured as a combination of seminar and workshop-style online exchanges, students will read selected texts and produced screenplays, write detailed script analyses, view films and clips, write concepts and outlines, and, naturally, write short, narrative-fiction screenplays. While students will be writing scenes and scripts starting in the first class, they will also be introduced to the concept of “telling their stories” to the workshop, as well, in order to explore character and plot while gaining a solid foundation in screen storytelling, visual writing, and screenplay evolution. We will migrate from initial ideas through research techniques, character development, story generation, outlining, the rough draft, and rewrites. Students will be immersed in the fundamentals of character, story, universe and setting, dramatic action, tension, conflict, sequence structure, acts, and style. In-class analysis of peer work within the context of a safe and productive environment will help students develop a critical eye and skills to apply to the troubleshooting of one’s own work, as well as productively critiquing the work of one’s peers. Overall, the student builds a screenwriter’s toolkit to use as various projects emerge in the future. The aim of the class is for students to complete a series of short-form screenplays and a final written project for conference. In conference, students may research and develop a long-form screenplay or teleplay, develop a TV series concept and “bible,” initiate and develop a web-series concept, craft a series of short screenplays for production courses or independent production, adapt original material from another form, and so forth. Research and screen storytelling skills developed through the course may be applied to other writing forms. The methodology of this online course creates three “writers’ rooms” of six writers each to allow a more interactive and productive online experience. There will also be individual, one-on-one online conferences with the professor. Students must have access to a reliable internet connection, a computer with a web-cam and the ability to use a designated online learning management system (TBA).

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Japanese Literature: Translations, Adaptations, and Visual Storytelling

Open , Small Lecture—Spring

No previous background in Japanese studies, literature, art history, or film history is required for this course.

This lecture course is an introduction to Japanese literature from the 10th century to contemporary fiction, and we will explore the connections between and among literary texts, translations, and visual adaptations—paintings, hand scrolls, performing arts, film, and manga. We will read selected works of Japanese literature in English translation(s), including early Japanese tales such as The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, The Tale of Genji, Life of an Amorous Woman, and modern novels and short stories by writers such as Shimazaki Toson, Hayashi Fumiko, Ota Yoko, Nakagami Kenji, and Murakami Haruki. With each text, we will examine other texts that are in conversation with these literary works and explore the content and forms of those conversations. In addition to the lectures, there will be weekly group conferences and regularly scheduled film screenings throughout the semester.

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Game Theory: The Study of Conflict and Strategy

Open , Lecture—Spring

Prerequisite: one-year each of high-school algebra and geometry

Warfare, elections, auctions, labor/management negotiations, inheritance disputes, even divorce—these and many other conflicts can be successfully understood and studied as games. A game, in the parlance of social scientists and mathematicians, is any situation involving two or more participants (players) capable of rationally choosing among a set of possible actions (strategies) that lead to some final result (outcome) of typically unequal value (payoff or utility) to the players. Game theory is the interdisciplinary study of conflict, whose primary goal is the answer to the single, simply-stated but surprisingly complex question: What is the best way to play? Although the principles of game theory have been widely applied throughout the social and natural sciences, their greatest impact has been felt in the fields of economics, political science, and biology. This course represents a survey of the basic techniques and principles in the field. Of primary interest will be the applications of the theory to real-world conflicts of historical or current interest.

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Time to Tinker

Open , Small Lecture—Spring

Do you enjoy designing and building things? Do you have lots of ideas for things that you wished existed but do not feel you have enough technical knowledge to create yourself? This course is meant to provide an introduction to tinkering, with a focus on learning the practical physics behind basic mechanical and electronic components while providing the opportunity to build things yourself. The course will have one weekly meeting with the whole class and three smaller workshop sessions to work on team-based projects. (You are expected to choose one of the three workshop sessions to attend weekly). The course will be broken down into multiple units, including: the engineering design process, tools and materials, basic electronics, introduction to Arduino, basic mechanics, and 3D printing. There will be weekly readings and assignments, and each unit will include a small group project to demonstrate the new skills that you have acquired. For a semester-long, team-based conference project, your team will create an engineered piece that will be exhibited and presented, as well as write a report reflecting on the design, desired functionality, and individual contributions that led to the finished product.

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Virtually Yours: Relating and Reality in the Digital Age

Open , Seminar—Fall

In this seminar, we will focus on ways in which humans have evolved to relate to each other and to be related to and how our innate relational patterns fit (or do not fit) within the rapidly-evolving digital world. We will consider ways in which digital life is changing the ways in which people relate and how that may be challenging for some but beneficial for others. We will begin with relevant historical and developmental perspectives on attachment theory, human bonding, and shifting relational expectations. We will move on to consider how the digital world (e.g., social media, messaging, dating apps, video chats, artificial intelligence, virtual reality) impacts our relationships, sense of self, and identity expression (e.g., of race, gender, sexuality, values, beliefs, interests). We will consider the role of digital spaces in making new connections, building friendships, falling in love, and maintaining romantic bonds, as well as empathy, bullying, revenge, trolling, and cancel culture. We will also consider our emerging engagement with artificial intelligence and our attachment to digital devices themselves. We will examine how the content, pace, and volume of information currently cycling through social media and 24-hour news outlets may impact our perception of reality. Classes will be both discussion-based and experiential, with opportunities for observation and in-class activities related to weekly topics. Class reading will include material from diverse perspectives in developmental, neuropsychological, clinical, and cultural psychology and related fields. Supplemental material will include relevant literature, memoir, TedTalks, and popular media coverage of related topics. Conference topics may include, but are not limited to, the role of digital spaces in forming and maintaining relationships; relationships formed to artificial intelligence and/or digital devices; and/or developmental, neuro-psychological, clinical, social, and/or cultural perspectives on/shifts in relating in the digital age. Conference projects may be completed in the form of an APA-style literature review, original data collection, and/or a creative piece with academic justification and will include a class presentation.

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3D Modeling

Open , Seminar—Spring

This course introduces students to the process of constructing digital objects and environments within the virtual space of the computer. Emphasis will be on a strong grasp of form, space, and composition. Fundamentals of hard-edge and organic surface modeling will be thoroughly exercised, while further exploration of the digital tools will cover shading and texturing, lighting, and rendering with the virtual camera. Over the course of the semester, students will be challenged to create increasingly complex objects, environments, and imagery. Through intensive hands-on studio time, as well as through readings and discussion, students will also be encouraged to consider the conceptual ramifications of working in illusionistic digital space. Contemporary examples of computer-generated imagery in art, film, and media—juxtaposed with historical views on visual illusion from art and philosophy—will form a broader context in which to examine the medium.

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Digital Imaging Studio

Open , Seminar—Fall

This course focuses on contemporary techniques for digital image manipulation with an emphasis on Photoshop skills, including imaging, retouching, and compositing workflow. We will cover proper use of adjustment layers, layer masks, retouching, and even design and basic animation. The skills covered will build a solid basis for further exploration and interventions within the realm of photography, illustration, and more radical digital experiments. While proper technical processes are emphasized, we will equally explore expressive use of the software, creating original, personal work through independent projects. The broader class discussion will emphasize computer-generated and -manipulated imagery beyond the basics of Photoshop as a driving force in art and media that now informs all imagemaking and reflects and informs our culture in general. Students are encouraged to explore the potential of digital tools within this greater context and that of their individual work and interests—visual arts-related or otherwise—stressing open-ended visual possibilities, as well as technical and conceptual rigor.

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New Genres: Art From Code

Open , Seminar—Fall

A practice-based introduction to visual-arts programming, this course is designed for artists with little or no programming experience. We’ll meet twice weekly to code together, working on short, in-class exercises that start with basics like color, shape, and motion and then move on to small simulations, interaction, and installation. We’ll survey some of the pioneers of computer art, including Vera Molnár, Grace Hertlein, and Georg Nees, and try our hand at recreating a few of their famous works. This class tries to visit exhibitions of computer art, as well as galleries that support new forms. Students are encouraged to hold an end-of-semester exhibition. Attendance at the noncredit Visiting Artist Lecture Series is required.

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New Genres: Conceptual Art

Open , Seminar—Fall

Artists have always been rebellious, but nowhere do we see their rejection of “business as usual” as emphatically as in the field of conceptual art. “I will not make any more boring art,” Baldessari promised. “My intention,” Duchamp said “is to completely eliminate the existence of taste.” For conceptual artists—whether you shoot, draw, code, paint, sculpt, or perform—what is most important is the idea that you choose to get the thing started. In fact, as Sol LeWitt explained, “The idea becomes the machine that makes the art.” This studio takes an idea or concept as the basis for a finished work. Students will be encouraged to choose a material best-suited to their project and should be open to working in any medium: photography, sculpture, video games, installation, performance, interactive art, and so on. Since much of conceptual art is based in digital production, this course will include an overview of basic digital-art skills, including graphic design, simulation, visualization, interaction, projection, and video installation. In moving from concept to artwork, we’ll go through a series of exercises that explore the strategies of conceptual art, including enactment, counterproduction, abstraction, remix, reduction, appropriation, play, time, chance, risk, identity, and more. Readings will be chosen for their correspondence to student themes and concerns. Artists surveyed include Duchamp, Beuys, Cage, Acconci, McMillian, Gaines, Golden, Ono, Hammons, Kosuth, LeWitt, Denes, Eliasson, Creed, and others.

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Performance Art

Open , Seminar—Spring

Since the early 20th century, artists have explored performance art as a radical means of expression. In both form and function, performance art pushes the boundaries of contemporary art. Through this form of expression, artists have produced powerful works about the body and the politics of gender, sexuality, and race. This course surveys performance art as a porous, transdisciplinary medium open to students from all disciplines, including painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture, video, filmmaking, theatre, dance, music, creative writing, and digital art. Students will learn about the history of performance art and explore some of the concepts and aesthetic strategies used to create works of performance. Drawing on historical and critical texts, artists’ writings, video screenings, and slide lectures, students will use a series of simple prompts to help shape their own performances. Artists and art movements surveyed in this class include Dada, Happenings, Fluxus, Viennese Actionism, Gutai Group, Act-Up, Joseph Beuys, Judson Church, Ana Mendieta, Gina Pane, Helio Oiticica, Jack Smith, Leigh Bowery, Rachel Rosenthal, Jo Spence, Chris Burden, Vito Acconci, Bas Jan Ader, Terry Adkins and the Lone Wolf Recital Corps, Carolee Schneemann, Martha Wilson, Adrian Piper, Martha Rosler, Lorraine O’Grady, Joan Jonas, Karen Finley, Janine Antoni, Patty Chang, Papo Colo, Paul McCarthy, Matthew Barney, Ron Athey, Orlan, Guillermo Gomez Pena, Narcissister, Annie Sprinkle, Vaginal Davis, Kris Grey, Carlos Martiel, Autumn Knight, Amanda Alfieri, Hennessey Youngman, Savannah Knoop, Shaun Leonardo, Francis Alys, Andrea Fraser, Tania Bruguera, Zhang Huan, Regina Jose Galindo, Aki Sasamoto, Pope.L, and many more.

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Photogrammetry

Open , Concept—Spring

Photogrammetry is the process by which, using specialized software, multiple photographic views of an object or space are analyzed and reconstructed into digital 3D models. These uncanny virtual recreations from the real world can then be used as digital props and environments in rendering, games, and animation projects. In this course, we will work with this exciting process, generating our own models and importing them into 3D software to edit, texture, and combine them into larger virtual scenes or export them as assets for games, visual effects, or other more experimental uses. We will work in both controlled studio environments as well as “en plein air,” with the ability to capture manmade as well as natural objects and spaces, subsequently generating their virtual doppelgangers in the computer and transforming their meaning as digital art objects.

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Practices, Techniques, and Strategies in Photography

Open , Seminar—Year

$200–$400 materials expense per semester

The course offers a trio of necessary skills to build a photographic practice, including critical theory, art histories, and technique. Students will learn analog and digital, from photographic capture to scanning and printing. Through a series of assignments and lectures, students will consider the overarching concepts that inform their work. Dynamic themes include working within and against a field of influence, the roll of documentary and conceptual approaches to photography, subjectivity versus structural systems of production, and photography as event and narrative. Our time will be divided between group critiques and lectures. In the spirit of experimentation and play, drawing from research and the everyday, students will test their theories in practice. Students will develop a cohesive and original body of photographs and develop a generative practice based on a process of making, thinking, and remaking. Final work will be compiled into an artist-made, print-on-demand book.

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The Episode: A Course in Connections

Open , Seminar—Spring

This will be a course in the episode, a flexible way of putting together content—fictional or nonfictional—in this world or another. The episodes that we know best are streamed online. We also read them, often without noticing their form. They are different from chapters or short stories. We will start by introducing each other to our favorites. Then we will do enough exercises to catch ourselves doing something right and continue until we have six episodes that connect, not necessarily conventionally. These will be supported and critiqued in small groups, while weekly exercises get presented to everyone. This course is a sneaky way to get people to write and revise something long over time. Students can write fiction or nonfiction, for adults or children, and include poetry, songs, or drawings in their work. 

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Ecopoetry

Open , Seminar—Year

In this poetry class—a yearlong school of poetry and the living world—we will consider the great organism Gaia, of which we are a part. We will read and write poems every week. We will ask questions: When did we begin to think of nature as apart from us? Why did we begin to speak of the animals as if we are not also animals? What are the stories and myths that have determined our attitude toward what we are and what we believe? We will read some of these stories and myths (myths of creation; Eden, the lost garden). We will read the long and rich tradition of poetry addressing itself to this subject, from the early indigenous peoples through the Zen monks and Wordsworth and right up through Gary Snyder to utterly contemporary poets writing right now. We will read books and articles that teach us about the other animals and living entities that we call plants and trees and planets and galaxies. Each student will research an aspect of the living world and teach the rest of us what they have learned. And we will write poems that incorporate that knowledge. We will read books of poems but also watch films, take field trips, and meet with each other outside of class in weekly poetry dates. By the end of the class, my hope is that each of us will have a greater understanding of the great organism that we call Earth and will create a collection of poems that engage the questions that our class raises: What is time? What is death? What is Eden? Where is the garden now? Who are the other organisms? How have we, as a species, affected the other organisms? How have we affected the oceans, the Earth, the air? How can poetry address the planetary emergency? Required for this class: intellectual curiosity, empathy, and a willingness to observe the world, to pay attention, and to write poetry that matters. This is a class for experienced writers, as well as for those who want to give writing poetry a try. All are welcome.

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