CMS.951: Comparative Media Studies Workshop II
Instructor: Nick Montfort, nickm at nickm dotcom, writingnick, 14N-233
Class meets Wednesdays, 11:30am - 3:30pm, GAMBIT: N25-372
Lab meets Tuesdays, 7pm - 10pm, usually in GAMBIT: N25-372 but check date for location
Updated 23 April 2008
Each of the three units has a short, high-level article which is the main reading. You should read it closely before the first class in the unit and re-read it at the end of the unit. We will discuss the article in the first class and after the presentations at the end. As we progress through a unit, suggested readings will be linked from this page. Projects are due the week before a unit ends, when they will be shown during critiques. (They may be rough at this point, but they should be largely complete.) The week after critiques, at the very end of each unit, you will present the final version of your projects. At this point, they should incorporate some sort of revision based on the discussion that took place during the critiques. There will be less time for discussion and questions after each presentation, but some time will be alloted so we can think together about how well your revisions worked.
The Web Site
- Main reading: Is Abstraction the Key to Computing? by Jeff Kramer
- February 6 - February 27, four classes. Critiques on February 20; Presentations on February 27.
- Project: Create and publish a Web site using materials of your choosing. The structure of the site must be appropriately keyed to the directory structure, the structure of each page encoded in HTML, and the visual presentation encoded abstractly in CSS. The materials you use must be ones that you have the right to publish, and they should be existing materials, since this is an editorial and production project, not a writing project.
- Tue February 5: (In GAMBIT.) Introducing the Web through acronyms, search for materials for your project.
- Wed February 6: Reading HTML, reading CSS, re-skinning a page, regular expressions redux, structuring text.
- Tue February 12: (Field Trip: Massart. Detailed directions to follow.) Artist and RISD professor Bill Seaman presents his digital media work.
- Tue February 19: (In GAMBIT.) Work on projects.
- February 20: Critiques of draft projects. Note also that at 6pm in 14N-233 Aya Karpinska will be presenting her digital media work, relevant to our section on computational art.
- Tue February 26: (In GAMBIT.) Work on projects.
- February 27: Presentations of revised projects.
The Photo Essay
- Main reading: No Picture Tells the Truth by Daniel Okrent (backup copy)
- March 5 - April 9, five classes. (No class March 26; Spring Break.) Critiques on April 2; Presentations on April 9.
- Project: Create a photo essay with photographs you have taken (on any camera, at any time) and captions you have written. You may use Confectionary to put it together, or you may use some other system or method. Present your photo essay either on the Web (cf. the first unit of the Spring semester) or as a booklet (cf. the second unit of the Fall semester). If you choose the Web, make your site public. If you choose the booklet option, make two copies.
- Tue March 4: (Field Trip: 32-123.) Jhumpa Lahiri reading.
- Wed March 5: Finish Web site presentations, basics of photography and composition (Talieh)
- Tue March 11: No official class meeting, but at 6pm you are invited to join Purple Blurb in 14N-233. Ben Miller will be presenting Soldiers' Story Archive, a documentary project relevant to this section.
- Wed March 12: Issues in word and image, exercise in selecting and captioning photos, photography exercise, critiques of Time photos essays and Burning Man photos with captions.
- Tue March 18: (In GAMBIT.) Work on projects.
- Wed March 19: "Framing" of projects, Confectionary.
- Tue April 1: (In GAMBIT.) Work on projects.
- Wed April 2: Critiques of draft projects.
- Tue April 8: No official class meeting, but at 6pm you are invited to join Purple Blurb in 14N-233. Beth Coleman will be discussing her work on Boba Fett's Day Off, a machinima work relevant to the next section.
- Wed April 9: Presentations of revised projects.
- Main reading: What is Computation? by Ian Horswill
- April 16 - May 14, five classes. Critiques on May 8; Presentations on May 14.
- Project: Create a piece of computational art in which there is more program than data. Effectively, this means that you should use no or almost no "art assets" such as image files, video clips, recorded music, and so on. Your "data" should be in the form of parameters that are used by your program rather than being sprites, waveforms, and so on. To program this work, you may use either Python (recommended if you are interested in textual art) or Processing (recommended if you are interested in visual art).
- If you are most interested in Python and haven't programmed, check out A Non-Programmer's Tutorial for Python or any of the resources for non-programmers. If you have programming experience beyond CMS.950, you might want to just Dive into Python.
- There is a lot of information about Processing, including tutorials and myriad example programs, available at the Processing site. If you want something in codex form, the book on Processing by Casey Reas and Ben Fry, creators of the language, is great.
- Tue April 15: (In 14N-233.) Screenings of computational art, develop goals, concepts, and directions for your project.
- Wed April 16: Programming clocks in Processing and Python.
- Wed April 23: Introduction to Horswill reading. Programming by elaborating a core piece of code in Python and Processing.
- Tue April 29: No official class meeting, but at 6pm you are invited to join Purple Blurb in 14N-233. Daniel Howe will be discussing his work on text.curtain and other computational poems, which are very relevant to this section.
- Wed April 30: Discussion of Horswill reading. Code aesthetics. More in-class work with Python and Processing.
- Tue May 7: (In GAMBIT.) Work on projects.
- Wed May 8: Critiques of draft projects. You should bring multiple versions of your program, or several related programs that you have written over the past weeks, and discuss your process of developing these. Also, submit all of these to me by email before class begins.
- Tue May 13: (In GAMBIT.) Work on projects.
- Wed May 14: Presentations of revised projects.