ARTS 235 – The Artist’s Perspective: Multimedia
Studio Art, Department of Art
Brian Davis, Instructor

The Artist’s Perspective: Multimedia is a second tier course in Curricular Area 1 in the University’s General Education Program. This second tier links with four Foundation Courses: ARTS-100G, Art: The Studio Experience, LIT-105G, The Literary Imagination, PERF-115G, Theatre: Principles, Plays and Performance. General Education credit will be given only if a pre-requisite foundation course has been taken first.

Course Description
This introductory course investigates aesthetic, technological, and socio-cultural concerns in multimedia through the creation of digital artworks. The course emphasizes the understanding of key paradigms, including media integration, interactivity, hypermedia and immersion, essential to the construction of narrative specific to the medium. Students learn the language of multimedia and its context in contemporary art.

Course Objective
This course will provide the student with a studio based overview of historical and contemporary methods in the production and discussion of multimedia art, including video, video installation, audio, animation and computer-based art. Upon completion, the student will have created at least four finished artworks in several different multimedia areas. The student will also have participated in an exhibition of class work.

Grading is based on the following criteria:
A - Student works in independent manner; willing to try new approaches while improving skills; contributes to classroom critiques and discussions; completes work on time; work displays excellent understanding of formal and conceptual / expressive aspects;
B - Good understanding of concepts, finishes work on time;
C - Completes work with mix results; assignments not done on time; rarely contributes to discussions;
D - Work incomplete or missing; little understanding of concepts; no contribution to critiques; absences
F - Self-explanatory

Semester projects: 60%
Wiki Postings: 15%
Technical evaluations: 15%
Exhibition(s): 10%

Assignments & Activities

Students are required to create multimedia projects and present for class critique and discussion. Students keep a blog journal where they post written assignments, summaries of readings and artworks, and general commentary on contemporary issues in art, media, and society. Each student is expected to participate in class discussion.

Throughout the semester, readings will be assigned which correspond to the area of multimedia we will be discussing or to the specific project you are working on. The readings will be discussed in class and the student will post a response to the reading on the class wiki.
Attendance is mandatory. The university expects students to attend all classes and to arrive on time. Each missed class will count against grade. Three late arrivals will equal one absence. Each unexcused absence will equal 1 letter grade subtracted from your final grade. Four unexcused absences is an automatic fail. All excused absences require a note from a doctor or other relevant authority.

It is important to have the necessary supplies available for each class. See attached sheet for a list.

AU Academic Integrity Code
Academic integrity lies at the heart of intellectual life. As members of a diverse community committed to the advancement of knowledge, we affirm the importance of respecting the integrity of one another's work. The Academic Integrity Code for American University describes standards for academic conduct, rights and responsibilities as members of an academic community, and procedures for handling allegations of academic dishonesty. As an institution of higher learning, American University views academic integrity as an educational as well as a judicial issue. (See AU Website for additional information,


As this is a technology-driven class, you will need access to some technology. None of these expensive devices are required, but they all will make your life a lot easier.

1. Camera- (helpful but not required) Mini DV cameras are ideal. Other types (mini DVD, usb flip) can cause problems. There are several cameras available for checkout in the main lab, but availability is sometimes limited. Here are some examples from Amazon.

2. External hard drive. In the computer lab, all files are at the mercy of other students. An external hard drive can eliminate this problem.
For easiest use, make sure in has firewire as well as USB 2. Make sure it spins at 7200-rpm minimum. Here is an example.

3. Tripod, get some kind of tripod.

4. Media. You will need tapes and discs throughout the semester. Don’t be caught without them. Most common will be Mini DV, CD and DVD –R

There are two types of tape lubricant: wet lubricant and dry lubricant. Sony uses a wet lubricant for Sony brand tapes. Virtually everyone else uses dry lubricant. The reason you don't want to mix and match these lubricants is you'll gunk up the heads on your camcorder when the two lubricants mix. It's like making little mud pies in the internal workings of your camcorder. The easiest way to avoid mixing the two lubricants is to pick a brand and stick with it.

We will be using DRY tapes- Fuji, Maxell, JVC and Panasonic. All others will be burned.

5. Headphones and a Sketchbook.

There may be other supplies you will need throughout the semester on a project-by-project basis, but the important thing to remember is bring what you need to class!