VIS159 / ICAM 150: History
of Art and Technology
Winter 2002, Visual Arts Department, UCSD
The syllabus for this class is online at:
. New information will be added throughout the quarter.
Instructor: Dr. Lev Manovich
Office hours: Monday 11:00am-12:00 pm (Visual Arts Facility 553) of by appointment
Monday 6:50pm – 9:40pm
Location: SOLIS 104
Location: Mandeville 103
The labs are conducted by Teaching Assistants (TAs):
T.A.'s office hours and email addresses will be announced in sections.
Lev Manovich. The Language
of New Media (The MIT Press, 2001). (Available at Groundworks bookstore.)
Additional readings maybe assigned as needed.
We are currently living in a unique historical period when all forms of cultural production and distribution are becoming based on computer and information technologies. This course aims to address two topics related to this transformation:
(1) How can we understand the language of new media by placing it within the history of media technologies and modern visual culture? What are the ways in which new media relies on older cultural forms and languages and what are the ways in which it breaks with them? What is unique about how new media objects create the illusion of reality, address the viewer, and represent space and time? How do conventions of older cultural forms such as printed page, architecture, cinema, and television interact with computer's own language to shape the language of new media?
By new media I mean new cultural forms which are native to computers or rely on computers for distribution: Web sites, human computer interface, virtual worlds, VR, multimedia, computer games, computer animation, digital video, special effects in cinema and net films, interactive computer installations. The term "the language of new media" refers to a number of various conventions used by designers of new media objects to organize data and structure user’s experience.
In answering these questions we will rely on histories of computer science, art, design, photography, video and other electronic media, and, in particular, the key cultural form of the twentieth century -- cinema. We will discuss the following topics: the parallels between cinema history and the history of new media; the identity of digital cinema; the language of multimedia and the language of cinema; use of montage and mobile camera in new media as compared to cinema; historical ties between new media and the avant-garde film.
(2) Along with using the history of culture to understand new media, we will also use new media to re-think the history of culture. The current computerization of culture makes available new concepts and new perspectives for understanding the history of culture and technology. In this course we will use various concepts that originate with computers (such as interface, database, software) in order to understand older cultural forms in new ways. For example, we will ask if a film can be thought of as a database or if a traditional work of art can be thought of in terms of the opposition between content and interface.
While the course's main emphasis is on theoretical and historical arguments, we will also view and analyze a number of key new media works created during the last decade -- from commercial classics in the areas of computer games and special effects to the works of a variety of international award winning media artists. In addition, each week we will see a film that is related to this week’s topic.
The course is based on my book The Language of New Media which is required reading for the course. Each lecture will be based on a particular chapter of the book. You are required to read it before the lecture. You are also required to complete additional readings and visit the links, if assigned. The first part of the lecture will be used to summarize the main points of this week's topic, to present historical background and visual material (video documentations, short films, Web sites, CD-ROMs), and to introduce the film screening. The second part of the lecture will be devoted to the screening of a film.
Labs will provide an opportunity to discuss class material with a TA in a smaller group. The TAs may assign additional short writing assignments throughout the course.
Class topics and screenings (subject to change):
January 7 / Week 1. Introduction.
January 14 / Topic: What is New
Media? Screening: Vertov, "A Man with a Movie Camera."
January 28 / Week 2. No lecture
– UCSD Holiday. Topic (discussed in lab): What is New Media? (continued).
February 4 / Week 4. Topic: The
Interface: The Language of Cultural Interface. Screening: Scott, "Blade
February 11 / Week 5. The Topic:
The Interface: The Screen and the User. Screening: Greeanway, "Draftsman's
February 18 / Week 6. No lecture
–UCSD Holiday. Topic (discussed in lab): The Operations: Selection,
Februay 25 / Week 7. Topic: The
Illusions. Screening: Antonioni, "Blow-up."
March 4 / Week 8. Topic: The
Forms: Database. Screening: Greenaway, "Prospero Books."
March 11 / Week 9. Topic: The
Forms: Navigable Space. Resnais, "Last Year in Marienbaad."
Week 10. Topic: Digital Cinema.
Screening: various short films and film segments.
Attendance will be taken every lecture and every lab session. During the quarter, you are allowed to miss no more than one lecture and no more than one lab session without a proper excuse (doctor's notice). Each additional absence will lower your final grade half a letter grade. Chronic lateness counts as absence. Forgetting to sign the attendance sheet or leaving early counts as absence.
1. Attendance of lectures and lab sessions.
2. Active participation in lab discussions.
3. Required readings for each lecture should be done before the lecture.
4. Mid-term short essays. Length: approximately 1000 words.
5. Final short essays. Length: approximately 2000 words.
Paper topics from the last time this class was thought can be found at:
Midterm and Final Papers:
The topics for the papers will be given in class. Students are expected to follow standard formatting and citation practices; failure to do so will result in a lower grade. The students are expected to complete midterm paper on time. If the paper is not delivered on time, its grade will be lowered one full letter grade. Final paper is due on final day for this course, as set by the University.
The TAs will assign students grades.
1. Mid-term paper: %30
2. Final paper: %50
3. Class participation: %20