ARTS 370 Composing with Media
Studio Art, Department of Art
Brian Davis, Instructor


This course introduces compositional techniques for the application of real-time and interactive time-based forms in new media. Strategies and methodologies drawn from music composition, performance art, theater, film, and video are applied to the creation of installation, sculptural, and live performance projects.

Course Objective

This course will provide the student with a continuing 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 three 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%
Blog: 15%
Technical evaluations: 15%
Exhibition: 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 his or her blog.


Attendance is mandatory. Each missed class will count against grade. Four unexcused absences is an automatic fail. All unexcused absences require a note from a doctor.


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!