FA 071 Syllabus

FA1071 New Media: Digital Art

Date and Time: T 6:10-10:40 PM

Location: 4th Floor Lab- Smith-405

Professor: Brian Davis
E-mail: briandavis [at] gwu.edu
Office: Smith 409 
Office Hours: 5:30-6:10
Course wiki: atimidmule.wikispaces.com
Any modifications to the course syllabus will be posted there. The digital calendar takes precedence over this printed calendar. Additional links to projects, artists, ideas, and tutorials are posted on the wiki.

Course description
This class is an introduction to the use of digital media in fine art. During the semester, we will examine contemporary art practices ranging from still digital images to site-specific digital content.

This course consists of a sequence of projects. Each project will introduce a new tool for making digital art and an new idea in contemporary art theory. This will allow students a broad understanding of current ideas and methods in new media.

There are no prerequisites for this course.

Learning Outcomes
• To make observations about visual images and information and to articulate responses verbally and visually.
• To develop a knowledge of historical models and movements in the electronic arts. To develop a context for understanding some of the basic cultural and theoretical concerns surrounding the ever-accelerating growth of Electronic (or “New”) Media, while analyzing and assessing ways in which electronic media have helped to create and shape contemporary discourse.
• To learn new technical skills and creatively expand upon your current abilities. Become adept at the use of several hardware devices (such as scanners, computers, printers, etc) and software applications (including, but not limited to, such as Photoshop and Illustrator).
• To produce digital projects for screen and print. To become confident in creating a clear, coherent and thoughtful body of work with the use of digital tool sets.
• To develop conceptually rigorous and socially aware media art and design practices.

Course Structure
Class time will be used for lectures, demos, discussions, work days, critiques, and field trips. Students will be required to complete readings and work outside of class.

Lectures, discussions and technical demos provide a context for assignments and expand your knowledge of digital media as a whole. Class time will be used to the fullest extent – you will be expected to dedicate as much time outside of class as needed to complete your projects, readings, and assignments. The university sets and posts hours for when the lab will be open and available to use. If the lab is not open during the set hours, please contact the Art Office on the first floor of Smith.

This course provides demonstrations and hands-on experience with digital multimedia software on the Macintosh platform, including digital imaging tools (digital photography, scanning, Photoshop), basic HTML and web design, and introduction to the moving image and audio recording.

All student projects will be presented in class for discussion and critique. Assignments and exercises are designed to segue into each other so that students are enabled to make connections between individual studio skills and contextualize those skills with concept development.

The grade you earn this semester will be based both upon the quality of the work you make and the quality of your contribution to class discussions and critiques. The quality of the work you produce this semester will be evaluated based upon meeting the learning outcomes listed above. Below is the tentative grade weighting schema:

Projects & Tests - 65% (Project grades include all preparatory exercises, each project and test is graded on a 100 pt. scale. All projects and test added together = 65% of your grade)
Wiki Postings (all posting together, including project documentation)- 25%
Class Participation - 10%

Given that we only meet once a week, you are required to attend all classes in full. I will allow one unexcused absence during the semester. 10 points will be deducted from your final grade for each subsequent absence without a doctor’s note OR for any unexcused absence on a critique day. If you will miss class to observe a religious holiday not observed by the University, please inform me at least one week in advance.

Any work missed due to absence must be turned in by the following class. A full letter grade will be deducted for each day after that work is not turned in.

No cell phoning / IM-ing / text messaging / emailing or other form of telepresence-based communication during working times of the class unless it is part of your project. Please turn off devices before you come to class.

Late Assignments
Unless otherwise stated, projects are due at the beginning of class on critique days – attendance is mandatory even if your project is not complete. A letter grade will be deducted for work turned in past the scheduled deadline (unless you have a documented illness or have made an arrangement with me in advance). Leave yourself extra time for technical glitches – they will happen and are an integral part of working with technology. Always back up all of your work.

Critiques are only valuable if we are all here to help each other understand what we have made. Your grade for the project will drop a letter should you miss critique day for reasons other than illness (requires doctor’s note).

The course fee covers expenses for ink and some equipment. In addition, you will need:

Storage media (USB flash drive or external disk) – Please label with your name or include a readme file with your contact info. These are often left behind and the lab monitors will not be able to return to you if not labeled.

USB 3 flash drive
this will be fast enough to edit video!

A notebook – something that allows for sketching, note-taking, and saving 2d papers/images etc. that you collect.

You will need high quality paper on which to print – we will discuss per project – you may purchase paper either by the box, or from the lab monitors on a per sheet/ per foot basis.

Access to a still digital camera and video camera. Your phone will usually work for this.

Software: all software needed for this class will be provided in the art labs. If you want to work on you personal computer, you are responsible for providing the corresponding software.

Get the Adobe Suite here:

No need to install all the tools at once, just install photoshop first, then the others as we use them.


Academic Integrity
I personally support the GW Code of Academic Integrity. It states: “Academic dishonesty is defined as cheating of any kind, including misrepresenting one's own work, taking credit for the work of others without crediting them and without appropriate authorization, and the fabrication of information.” For the remainder of the code, see: http://www.gwu.edu/~ntegrity/code.html

A note on plagiarism vs. appropriation…given the nature of the material in this course, we will be addressing art and scholarship that appropriates content from various sources. Issues of ownership, copyright, and fair use will be discussed, however, as a basic guideline, you should only appropriate material if the act of appropriation is conceptually relevant to your project. The meaning of any appropriated material should be significantly altered from its original intent. Boiled down, if you just want the image, and are not addressing where it came from it’s not okay. Find a way to make that image yourself. Additionally, art is often all about the fabrication of information – we will look at artists who employ this as a technique.

Disability Support Services (DSS)
Students requiring special accommodations in this course should contact Disability Services and speak with the instructor. The information you share is confidential. Such arrangements will help the instructor facilitate, for the benefit of everyone, the full participation of every person in the course.

Any student who may need an accommodation based on the potential impact of a disability should contact the Disability Support Services office at 202-994-8250 in the Marvin Center, Suite 242, to establish eligibility and to coordinate reasonable accommodations. For additional information please refer to: http://gwired.gwu.edu/dss/

If you require accommodation to fully utilize the computers in the FAAH digital lab, please speak with me about tailoring your account settings.

University Counseling Center (UCC) 202-994-5300
The University Counseling Center (UCC) offers 24/7 assistance and referral to address students' personal, social, career, and study skills problems. Services for students include:
crisis and emergency mental health consultations
confidential assessment, counseling services (individual and small group), and referrals

Please don’t leave your things unattended in the lab. Theft is not rampant, but it does happen regularly. Be aware of your surroundings if you are working in the building late at night.

In the case of an emergency, if at all possible, the class should shelter in place. If the building that the class is in is affected, follow the evacuation procedures for the building. After evacuation, seek shelter at a predetermined rendezvous location.