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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Edward A Shanken
DXARTS 200
Seattle Campus

Digital Art and New Media: History, Theory, and Practice

Provides a historical and critical overview of artists and scientists pioneering the digital arts. Discusses important digital media issues from aesthetics, creative strategies, emerging trends, and socio-cultural aspirations.

Class description

We will explore the history, theory and practice of art and electronic media as a 'psychic dress rehearsal for the future' that offers insight into possible trajectories of emerging cultural practices.

We will examine various technologies, such as electric light, xerography, rapid prototyping, digital computing, telecommunications, the Web, virtual reality, and GPS in terms of their specific characteristics as media. We will equally consider how technologies cannot be separated from the way people use them, the behaviors that emerge, and the dreams (and fears) embedded in them.

Dr. Shanken's book, Art and Electronic Media (available via course site) will be the course text. Our survey of the field will include writings by curators, theorists, engineers, and artists, and will combine historic primary texts and current literature. In order to foreground conceptual continuities across media, periods, genres and forms, we will take a thematic approach to several topical streams:

* Motion, Duration, Illumination * Coded Form and Electronic Production * Charged Environments * Networks, Surveillance, Culture Jamming * Bodies, Surrogates, Emergent Systems * Simulations and Simulacra * Exhibitions, Institutions, Communities, Collaborations

Individual examples and the streams they represent will be subjected to close readings. Students will acquire fluency with methods from art history, media-theory, and media-archaeology, and learn how to apply these methods, traditions, and principles to the analysis of visual culture.

Throughout the course, students will undertake independent research to write a weekly journal entry and will also respond to each other’s writings using the Art and Electronic Media Online Companion (AEM-OC) .

Student learning goals

Students will gain an understanding of and appreciation for the artistic use of electronic media since the 1950s.

Students will understand what "new media" consists of and what "new media art" is.

Students will acquire fluency with methods from art history, media-theory, and media-archaeology and learn how to apply these methods, traditions, and principles to the analysis of visual culture.

Students will become adept at using social media to post multimedia descriptions of new media artworks.

General method of instruction

Lecture and discussion sections. Visiting guest speakers will share their insights into the topic from an artist's perspective.

Recommended preparation

A good foundation in modern and contemporary art history and/or a the history of modern science and technology would be helpful.

Class assignments and grading

Students will undertake independent research to write a weekly journal entry and will also respond to each other’s writings using the Art and Electronic Media Online Companion (AEM-OC) .


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
About Professor Shanken
Last Update by Edward A Shanken
Date: 09/19/2013