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Class Goals

The goals of this class include:

  • To use a broad range of examples from art and technology to understand how they interrelate;
  • To develop a "way of seeing" such that when looking at things traditionally categorized either as "art" or as "technology" one can perceive the influence of the other; and
  • To gain experience and self-confidence giving and receiving peer-group critique regarding how one expresses and instantiates one's ideas.

Required Books

Amazon logo Standage, Tom. The Victorian Internet. New York, NY: Walker and Company, 1998. ISBN: 9780802713421.

Amazon logo Carter, Rob, Ben Day, and Philip Meggs. Typographic Design: Form and Communication. 4th ed. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 2006. ISBN: 9780471783909.

Amazon logo Britt, David, ed. Modern Art: Impressionism to Post-Modernism. New York, NY: Thames & Hudson, 2008. ISBN: 9780500238417.


1 Introduction

Paper and making marks on it

Typography, technology, and perception


Look at type, on hard- and softcopy

In-class exercise, "making letters"

4 Video screening: Helvetica by Gary Hustwit
5 Discuss essay 1 Essay 1 due
6 Continued discussion of type
7 Continued discussion of essay 1
8 Temporal and sequential media
9 Discuss exercise 1 Exercise 1 due

Guest lecturer: Walter Bender

Color: physics, psychophysics, and aesthetics

11 How electronic displays work and why we care

Guest lecturer: Walter Bender

Color: physics, psychophysics, and aesthetics (cont.)

Discuss OLPC XO (One Laptop Per Child) hardware and the Sugar environment

13 Discuss OLPC XO machine design

Hand out XOs

Discuss first Python/Pygame example programs

15 Modern art
16 Discuss exercise 2 Exercise 2 due
17 More modern art
18 Discuss sound on the XO
19 Discuss essay 2 Essay 2 due
20 Discuss essay 2 (cont.)
21 Discuss exercise 3 Exercise 3 due
22 Discuss exercise 4 / essay 3 Exercise 4 / essay 3 due
23 Discuss essay 3 (cont.) Final project proposal (one page, text and/or sketch) due

"Final project clinic"

In-class exercise: GTK Csound (aka exercise 5)

25 To be announced
26 Presentation of student work — invite your friends!


Class participation 20%
Papers 30%
Exercises 30%
Final project 20%

Papers that are late and unexcused in advance will be penalized by one-half of a letter grade for each day late. If you need an extension, please tell the instructor at least one week ahead of time. You will select one paper for revision and resubmission, and the grade for the resubmitted paper will replace the grade for the original.

A Note on Writing Assignments

Essays are submitted as exercises in development and expression of your thoughts. It's not a good use of the instructor's time to have to mark up simple grammar and spelling errors; if you are in need of guidance in matters of grammar or style please meet with the writing tutor or visit the Writing Center.

Class Participation

You are expected to participate in class discussion throughout the semester. Participation includes informal class discussion of the readings, and in-class presentations/critiques of your work. Attendance is obviously a prerequisite for class participation. If you must miss a class, you should notify the instructor in advance. More than two unexcused absences will seriously jeopardize your class participation grade. Your own work will be regularly critiqued by your peers without emphasis on issues of formal qualities, but rather on issues of how well you have explored the areas of thought you might select. Thus your ability to express yourself visually (i.e. being a good illustrator and so forth) will not be as important as compared to how well you demonstrate the ability to clearly identify and define a particular idea. Developing your ability to orally defend yourself in the context of a critique will be the primary intent of these regular in-class exercises that occur in tandem with your writing assignments; the assessment of your oral communication component will depend upon your ability to navigate the defense of your own ideas.

Plagiarism Policy

When writing a paper or creating any expressive work, you must identify the nature and extent of your intellectual indebtedness to the authors, artists, and designers whom you have read or to anyone else from whom you have gotten ideas (e.g., classmates, invited lecturers, etc.). You can do so through footnotes, a bibliography, or some other kind of scholarly device. Failure to disclose your reliance on the research or thinking of others is plagiarism, which is considered to be the most serious academic offense and will be treated as such. If you have any questions about how you should document the sources of your ideas, please ask your instructors before you submit your written work. MIT's academic policy can be found at the following link: MIT Policies and Procedures.