New Directions In Digital Art

Syllabus for New Directions In Digital Art Professor Mark Amerika
Fall 2004
Tues/Thurs 5:00-7:30
N275 (Experimental Digital Arts Lab)
email: Mark.Amerika@Colorado.Edu
Project One  
"Art is what you say it is." Who said that? Course Introduction
What is Digital Art?
What is Internet Art?
For that matter, what is Conceptual Art?
How does one evolve a contemporary digital or net art practice?

Check out:

Sol Lewitt: "Sentences on Conceptual Art"

Alexei Shulgin: "Art, Power, and Communication"

Anne-Marie Schliener: "Fluidities and Oppositions among Curators, Filter Feeders, and Future Artists"

Keith Obadike: Blackness For Sale

Modern Living by Hoogerbrugge

Harry Polkinhorn: "Manifesto of Negativity"

"Make Your Own Manifesto"

Assignment #1 The Artist's Statement: Manifesting A Self-Interview:

Artist statements, interviews, documents, and online conceptual art sites have been popular ways for both individual practitioners and artist groups or movements to get their message out. If, as McLuhan suggests, the medium is the message (and, without a doubt the medium is also the massage), then developing an online conceptual art practice would require an activist positioning of the artist's ideas in various contexts: endless email communications with your personal network, significant presence on various email lists, continuous updating and launching of your tell-tale websites, artist interviews, and concept documents.

With this in mind, do the following:

  • Join the Rhizome Digest list and read it when it comes into your mailbox every week. Our Department is becoming an institutional subscriber. Sign the email list that will be passed around the second day of class to make sure you get registered.
  • Become an active member of the class listserv which will be located the address -- use it as a venue to share your ideas as they evolve throughout the course as well as answer specific issues addressed by the Professor. For example, find websites that are of value to our discussions and send the addresses along with an encapsulated review of the website and why it's important -- and then others should respond to that website review/suggestion with their own impression of the site. Participating in this "asynchronous" communication style is a crucial part of an evolving network practice.
  • Create an online artist statement as a self-interview. Read the self-interviews at for guidance and also use the artist statements linked to the artists above to better inform you of what you should be articulating. The self-interview should have
    1. Ten Q's & A's
    2. an innovative web design
    3. intellectual content that focuses on your role as an emerging digital artist in what is predominantly a Western consumer culture (these can be serious, humorous, literary, manifesto-like, conceptual, critical, etc.)

This project is due on September 7th.

Project Two  
What's your story? Digital Narratives: Telling It Like It Is?

Read Shelley Jackson's popular hypertext MY BODY and see how she confuses [de-familiarizes] autobiographical discourse into something "fictional." Also notice how she mixes hyperTEXT with illustration and, on the opening page, a sound-loop. As with much web art work, here we find textuality and narrative becoming privileged. Another example of this kind of hypertextual narrative is Adrienne Eisen's Six Sex Scenes. For examples of "pseudo-autobiography" in Flash, see Donna Leischman's "littleredridinghood", Eric Loyer's "Marrow Monkey", "Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries", and the motion graphic VJ narrative "FILMTEXT". Interviews with most of the artists are available at the "Histories of Internet Art" website created by students in FINE 4316/5316. For an interview with Jackson, go here.

For more online narratives, go here.

Assignment #2 Pseudo-Autobiographical Narrative Space: Using the Web As A Real Fictitious Medium

Now that you have had a chance to begin exploring the web as an artist's development tool (via the self-interview), it's time to expand the story. Create a digital narrative that does the following:

  • Creates another version of yourself (for example: a fantasy self, a fictional self, or a future self)
  • Takes this other version of yourself as arbitrarily constructed by you and represents it on the web in any of the following formats:
    1. hypertext
    2. flash
    3. sound narrative
    4. hybrid (for example, some combination of flash and dynamic html or hypertext and sound)
    5. Optional: if you are stuck in some kind of creative inertia, then try and use some arbitrary procedural method to structure the story (cf. Dan Aragon's "Artist Statement" where he sets up the procedure of asking ten people to ask him questions accompanied by snapshots of both him and all of the participants, which he then uses as the conceptual framework for developing his Q&A)

This project and its documentation are due on October 5th.

Note: There will be no class on September 30th due to Fall Break and the project is due when you return.

Project Three  
Letting the language speak itself... The Future Sounds of Boulder

Introduction to experimental electronic music, sound and noise.
Lab sessions on sound sampling and manipulating.

Web sites with sound:

(Many of these sites require plug-ins like Flash, Real Audio, Beatnik, and/or an mp3 player)

DJ Spooky
Futurefarmers (click on "Utopia" under the heading "Stimuli"
The Sensualists

Also check out a recent article on web sound called Free Your Mind and Your Mouse Will Follow.

Assignment #3 The Future Sounds of Boulder

Create a small website that features your "new" work of digital sound art under the following set of parameters:

  • experiment with the WWW as a live remix machine. The class will record everyone's live WWW mixes and use that as "collective source material"
  • access the "collective source material" and create an original sound collage that is meant to be experienced online (i.e. mp3 file)
  • come up with a pseudonym that best defines you and your work as a digital artist (like DJ Spooky, Twine, DJRABBI, Litmixer, Qrime, etc.)
  • integrate the mp3 file into the website featuring your "alternative sound persona"
  • think of this work as an alternative art sound piece for an online sound exhibition that the class will name. one final parameter: play on the average length of a commercial pop song, and create a sound piece that is exactly 3:33 long - and to reiterate: this is not about music per se, but "sound art" created under the guise of An Experimental Audio Composition Made Out of Manipulated Data

This project and its documentation are due on November 2nd. After the project is due, we will create a unique interface that links to all of the work on our server, burn a CD version, and announce it as a public sound exhibition.

Project Four  
How does Being Digital effect you? How do you effect the digital? Is it a love/hate relationship? R.E.Mix (A Collaborative Project)

This part of the course will be a collaborative project to be announced as the semester goes on.

Assignment #4 R.E.Mix (A Collaborative Project)

See above.

This project and its documentation are due on December 9th.