MAS.879 (A) -- Special Topics in Media Arts and Sciences
The Digital Work:
Themes in Cinematic and Computational Art
Spring 2002


Instructor: Hisham Bizri Course URL: http://web.mit.edu/~bizri/www/teaching.html
Office location: CAVS, N52-390 Course location: N52-390 (conference room)
Office hours: by appointment Course hours: Tuesdays 7-10 P.M.
Office phone: (617)452-2482  Course units: 3-0-6
Email: bizri@mit.edu 

Course Description
The use of computer-generated imagery in the visual arts of the 21st century has the potential to transform the visual arts on a scale not seen since the invention of cinema in the late 1800s. What direction will that transformation take? How are the production and experience of visual art, particularly that which concerns the moving image, likely to change? And will that change represent progress for the aesthetics of the moving image or the birth of an era when the freedom provided by the new technology (be it virtual reality, intelligent design, computer games, etc.) degenerates into a solipsistic free-for-all that threatens to render everyone a pseudo-artist and all art entertainment? Are these the only options?

In this class, we will investigate such questions with a view toward harnessing the artistic potential of the computer for the creation of a new visual form -- one that finds sustenance in the aesthetics of traditional art (specifically, art cinema, e.g. the works of Frampton and McLaren) while expanding the limits of its language via the new technologies, as in the works of Boustani and Rybczynski.

The instructor brings to the course the perspective of a practicing artist engaged in just such a project. Through frequent creative exercises, students will themselves explore the themes treated more theoretically in class readings and lecture. Students should have some background in video and/or computer art. They are expected to complete exciting visual and aesthetic works using end-user apps. (Maya, Photoshop, Director, digital video production, etc.) and/or programming languages (Java and C++).

Course Requirements
Class time:
        40% lecture; 60% discussion.
Workload:
        approx. 20-30 pages of reading per week
        approx. 10-15 pages writing per semester; 2 papers, can be research or ideas about your artistic method
        (Graduate students may substitute 1 longer paper)
        weekly art exercises using the computer or digital video cameras (partial access to the hardware and
        software is available at CAVS. You can get further access through Information Systems (IS))
        occasional guest speakers will discuss both artistic and technical issues
 Material submitted:
        all exercises should be available on digital media or video tape; if using a programming language please submit a paper explaining the content and code and be ready to demonstrate functionality in class; please submit papers in hard copy.
Grading:
        25% papers; 75% projects

Course Materials
Required:
Course Packet available from MIT Copy Technology Center (Main Campus 11-004)

Optional Texts
Bhangal, Sham; Farr, Amanda; & Rey, Patrick, Foundation Flash 5, Friends of Ed, 2000.
Bhangal, Sham, Foundation Action Script, Friends of Ed, 2001.
Meyer, Trish & Meyer, Chris, Creating Motion Graphics with AfterEffects, CMP Books 2000.
Meyer, Trish & Meyer, Chris, After Effects in Production, CMP Books 2001.
Laybourne, Kit,  The Animation Book, Three Rivers Press, 1998.
Katz, Steven, Film Directing: Shot by Shot, Michael Wiese Productions, 1991.
 

Bordwell, David & Thompson, Kristin, Film Art: An Introduction (5th edition),  McGraw-Hill Companies, 1996.
Gunning, Tom, D. W. Griffith and the Origins of American Narrative Film: The Early Years at Biograph,University of Illinois Press,1994.
Manovich, Lev, The Language of New Media, MIT Press 2000.
Mannoni, Laurent, The Great Art of Light and Shadow, Richard Crangle (Translator), University of Exeter Press, 2000.
Musser, Charles, The Emergence of Cinema: The American Screen to 1907, Vol. 1, University of California Press, 1994.
Polti, Georges, The Thirty-Six Dramamtic Situations, The Writer, Inc. 1999.
Ripa, Cesare, Baroque and Rococo Pictorial Imagery, Dover Publications, Incorporated,1991.
 

Brakhage, Stan, Brakhage Scrapbook: Collected Writings 1964 to 1980, Robert A. Haller (Editor), McPherson & Company, 1982
Bresson, Robert, Notes on the Cinematographer, Jonathan Griffin (Translator), Green Integer, 1997.
Dreyer, Carl Theodore, Dreyer in Double Reflection: A Translation of about the Film by Carl Th. Dreyer, Donald Skoller (Editor), Dutton/Plume,1973.
Eisenstein, Sergei, S.M. Eisenstein: Selected Works,Geoffrey Nowell-Smith (Editor), University of California Press, 1994.
Vertov, Dziga, Kino-Eye: The Writings of Dziga Vertov,Annette Michelson (Editor), Kevin O'Brien (Translator), University of California Press,1995.
 

Course Topics
I. Introduction to the history of cinematic and computational art
II. Analog and Digital
III. Aesthetics of Cinema
IV. Computational Aesthetics and Narratives
V. Case Study: Digital Music within the Classical Tradition
VI. Hybridity: Installation Art, Interactive Art, and the role of computers

Course Outline
I. Introduction
The history of cinematic and computational art

readings:
John Berton, “Film Theory for the Digital World: Connecting the Masters to the New Digital Cinema,” Leonardo: Journal of the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology. Digital Image/Digital Cinema: A special edition with the Special Interest Group in Graphics (SIGGRAPH) Association of Computing Machinery, New York: Pergamon Press, 1990, pp. 5-11

Beverly Jones, “Computer Graphics: Effects of Origins,” Leonardo: Journal of the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology. Digital Image/Digital Cinema: A special edition with the Special Interest Group in Graphics (SIGGRAPH) Association of Computing Machinery, New York: Pergamon Press, 1990 pp. 21-30

Clement Greenberg, "Art and Kitsch," Clement Greenberg: The Collected Essays and Criticism, Volume 1, Perceptions and Judgments, ed. John O'Brian, University of Chicago Press, 1986, pp. 5-22

Arthur Danto, "Metaphor, Expression, and Style," The Transfiguration of the Common Place, Harvard University Press, 1981, pp. 164-208

screenings:
TBA

II. Analog and Digital Media
The nature/essence of the medium
How, if at all, does the nature/essence constrain the creative possibilities of the medium
Discussion of analog and digital systems
How does analog versus digital influence creative possibilities? (celluloid vs. digits)

readings:
Aristotle, The Poetics, Hackett Publishing Company, 1987, Sections 1-3, pp. 1-15
Kendall Walton, "Categories of Art," Philosophy Looks at the Arts, Temple university Press, 1987, pp. 53-79
Nelson Goodman, "The Theory of Notation," Languages of Art, Hackett Publishing Company, 1976, pp. 127-176
Timothy Binkley, "The Vitality of Digital Creation," Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 55, No. 2, 1997, pp. 107-115

screenings:
Norman McLaren, Stan Brakhage, Hollis Frampton, Michael Snow, Ken Jacobs, Jack Smith

III. Aesthetics of the Moving Image: Cinema
Birth of art cinema itself from the traditions of theater, etc.

readings:
Sergei Eisentein, "The Cinematographic Principle and the Ideogram," Film Form, HBJ, 1977, pp. 28-44
Jean Epstein, "The Essence of Cinema," and "For a New Avant-Garde," The Avant-Garde Film, ed. P. Adams Sitney, New York University Press, 1978, pp 24-30
Andre Bazin, "The Myth of Total Cinema," and "The Evolution of the Language of Cinema,” What is Cinema?, University of California Press, 1967, pp. 17-22 &&  pp. 23-40
Carl Theodore Dreyer, "A Little on Film Style," Dreyer in Double Reflection, A Da Capo Press, 1973, pp. 122-142
Hans Richter, "The Film as an Original Art Form," Film Culture Reader, ed. P. Adams Sitney, pp. 15-20
Stan Brakhage, "from Metaphors on Vision," Avant-Garde Film, P. Adams Sitney, ed., Praeger Publishers, 1970, pp. 120-128
Hollis Frampton, "A Pentagram for Conjuring the Narrative," Avant-Garde Film, P. Adams Sitney, ed., Praeger Publishers, 1970, pp. 281-289
P. Adams Sitney, "Structural Film," Visionary Film, Oxford University Press, 1979, pp. 369-397

recommended readings:
P. Adams Sitney, "Absolute Animation," Visionary Film, Oxford University Press, 1979, pp. 228-304
P. Adams Sitney, "The Graphic Cinema: European Perspectives," Visionary Film, Oxford University Press, 1979, pp. 369-397

screenings:
Georges Melies/Lumiere brothers, Sergei Eisenstein/Aleksandr Dovzhenko, F.W. Murnau/Patrick Bukanowski/Alexander Sokurov, Jean-Luc Godard/Raul Ruiz, Hans Eggling/Peter Kubelka

IV. Computational Aesthetics and Narratives
Considerations of audience and narrative: audience intervention, improvisation, and location, narrative possibilities and outcome, audience/environment communication, and the role of emotions.
Consideration of presentation
         virtual reality
         interactive art
         networked environments
         the Web
         intelligent systems
         computer games

readings:
Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," Illuminations, Schocken Books, 1968, pp. 217-252
Lenny Lipton, "A Technical History of Stereocinema," Foundations of the Stereoscopic Cinema, Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1982, pp. 16-52

recommended readings:
Gene Youngblood, "Cybernetic Cinema and Computer Films," Expanded Cinema, E.P. Dutton & Company, 1970, pp. 179-256
Gene Youngblood, "Holographic Cinema," Expanded Cinema , E.P. Dutton & Company, 1970, pp. 399-420

screenings:
Zbig Rybczynski, Christian Boustani, Hisham Bizri, Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass, David Byrne, Melissa Fenley, Bill Jones, George Lewis, Arto Lindsay, Tony Nogueira, John Lurie

V. Case Study: Digital Music within the Classical Tradition
Why and how did music succeed in expanding the language of classical music; is the issue of representation in the visual arts and cinema constrain their expressive potential in the digital realm because of present-day technology

readings:
Pierre Boulez, "Technology and the Composer," Orientations, Harvard University Press, 1986, pp. 486-494
Cage -- TBA
Stockhausen -- TBA

recordings:
Philip Manoury, Tristam Murail, Tod Machover, and various IRCAM artists TBA

VI. Hybridity: Video, Installation/Performance Art, Interactivity and the Role of Computers

readings:
Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment, Hackett Publishing Company, 1987, pp. 189-207
David Z. Saltz, "The Art of Interaction: Interactivity, Performativity, and Computers," in Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 55, No. 2, 1997, pp. 117-127.
Julie H. Reiss, From Margin to Center: The Spaces of Installation Art, MIT Press, 1999, pp. 109 - 157
Dick Higgins, "Fluxus: Theory and Reception," The Fluxus Reader, Academy Editions, 1998, pp. 217-236

recommended readings:
Ken Friedman, "Fluxus and Company," The Fluxus Reader, Academy Editions, 1998, pp. 237-253

screenings:
Bill Viola, Nam June Pike, Jonathan Borofsky, Robert Lango, Vito Acconci, Gregory Millar, Eric Mitchell, Jogn Sandborn, Bruce Conner, Michel Auder, Kit Fitzgerald, Oscar Schlemmer, Dara Birnbaum.

VII. Final Projects
Students present their artworks.
 

Weekly Outline
 
Weeks Topics  Readings/Screenings  Assignments
Week 1 (2.5) Introduction screenings:
the history of computer graphics; early films
m
Week 2 (2.12) Film, Computer Graphics, and art criticism readings:
John Berton, “Film Theory for the Digital World: Connecting the Masters to the New Digital Cinema,” pp. 5-11 

Beverly Jones, “Computer Graphics: Effects of Origins,” pp. 21-30.

Clement Greenberg, "Art and Kitsch," pp. 5-22

Arthur Danto, "Metaphor, Expression, and Style," pp. 164-208

screenings:
early films and computer graphics
 

m
Week 3 (2.19) NO CLASS (monday classes instead) NO CLASS (monday classes instead) NO CLASS (monday classes instead)
Week 4 (2.26) Film, Computer Graphics, and art criticism readings:
Clement Greenberg, "Art and Kitsch," pp. 5-22

Arthur Danto, "Metaphor, Expression, and Style," pp. 164-208

screenings:
early films and computer graphics
 

Project #1 -- text
Week 5 (3.5) Analog and Digital Media readings:
Aristotle, The Poetics, pp. 1-15

Kendall Walton, "Categories of Art," pp. 53-79

screenings:
Norman McLaren, Stan Brakhage, Hollis Frampton, Immersive Environments, interactive art (SIGGRAPH & Ars Electronia)
 

Project #2 -- color

Mid-term project proposal due
 

Week 6 (3.12) Analog and Digital Media readings:
Nelson Goodman, "The Theory of Notation," pp. 127-176

Timothy Binkley, "The Vitality of Digital Creation," pp. 107-115

screenings:
Michael Snow, Ken Jacobs, Jack Smith, Immersive Environments, interactive art (SIGGRAPH & Ars Electronia)
 

Project #3 -- geometrical shapes & architecture
Week 7 (3.19) Aesthetics of the Moving Image: Cinema readings:
Sergei Eisentein, "The Cinematographic Principle and the Ideogram," pp. 28-44

Jean Epstein, "The Essence of Cinema," and "For a New Avant-Garde," pp 24-30

Andre Bazin, "The Myth of Total Cinema," and "The Evolution of the Language of Cinema,” pp. 17-22 &&  pp. 23-40

screenings:
Georges Melies/Lumiere brothers, Sergei Eisenstein/Aleksander Dovzhenko
 

Mid-term project due 

Short paper due
 

Week 8 (3.26) NO CLASS (Spring Vacation) NO CLASS (Spring Vacation) NO CLASS (Spring Vacation)
Week 9 (4.2) Aesthetics of the Moving Image: Cinema readings:
Carl Theodore Dreyer, "A Little on Film Style," p 122-142

Hans Richter, "The Film as an Original Art Form," pp. 15-20

Stan Brakhage, "from Metaphors on Vision," pp. 120-128

Hollis Frampton, "A Pentagram for Conjuring the Narrative," pp. 281-289

P. Adams Sitney, "Structural Film," pp. 369-397

screenings:
F.W. Murnau/Patrick Bukanowski/Alexander Sokurov, Jean-Luc Godard/Raul Ruiz, Hans Eggling/Peter Kubelka/Ladislas Starewicz
 

Project #4 -- sound/music
Week 10 (4.2) Computational Aesthetics and Narratives readings:
Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," pp. 217-252

Lenny Lipton, "A Technical History of Stereocinema," pp. 16-52

more TBA

screenings:
Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass, David Byrne, Melissa Fenley, Bill Jones, George Lewis, Arto Lindsay, Tony Nogueira, John Lurie
 

Project #5 -- interactive work

Final project proposal due
 

Week 11 (4.9) Computational Aesthetics and Narratives readings:
TBA

screenings:
Zbig Rybczynski, Christian Boustani, Hisham Bizri
 

Project #6 -- time
Week 12 (4.16) Avant-garde movements (Guest lecturer)
Week 13 (4.23) Case Study: Digital Music within the Classical Tradition readings:
Pierre Boulez, "Technology and the Composer," pp. 486-494

Cage -- TBA

Stockhausen -- TBA

recordings:
Philip Manoury, Tristam Murail, Tod Machover, and various IRCAM artists TBA
 

Project #7 -- mixed media
Week 14 (4.30) Hybridity Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment, 189-207

David Z. Saltz, "The Art of Interaction: Interactivity, Performativity, and Computers," pp. 117-127

screenings:
Bill Viola, Nam June Pike, Jonathan Borofsky, Robert Lango, Vito Acconci, Gregory Millar, Eric Mitchell, Jogn Sandborn, Bruce Conner, Michel Auder, Kit Fitzgerald, Oscar Schlemmer, Dara Birnbaum.
 

Final project review
Week 15 (5.7) Hybridity readings:
Julie H. Reiss, From Margin to Center: The Spaces of Installation Art, pp. 109 - 157

Dick Higgins, "Fluxus: Theory and Reception," pp. 217-236

screenings:
TBA
 

Final project review
Week 16 (5.14) Students' final presentat Final project due

Final paper due