New Media: Crash Course | FVNM 2100-001 (467)
Fr 9AM - 4PM | MC807

This introductory course focuses on screen-based new-media works, their historical contexts, their specific aesthetics and theoretical concerns. Students gain an understanding of the emerging culture and historical antecedents of new-media. Interactive, network and web-based technologies are introduced from the perspective of media art making.

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contact: nbriz@saic.edu

Lillian Schwartz
the Artist and the Computer

new media

the term “new media” means a few different things in a few overlapping contexts, we will be approaching this term from three perspectives; as a metamedium: a fusion of already-existing + not-yet-invented media; as a cultural movement: w/ parallel developments in modern art && in computing; as an ecology: the relationships + interactions between people && their digital environment


computers are electricity routing machines ( albeit incredibly fast && intricate ) yet we anthropomorphize them in ways we don’t to clocks or canals; we use terms like “memory”, “thinking”, “recognizing”, “understanding”, “sleeping”, etc. why is this the case? how exactly do they do all that they do. we’ll be answering these questions as well as looking at the historical figures && motivations that informed it’s development.


programming in a sense means instructing a computer to do what you want it to do. but how does it work? how did we go from flipping switches to writing JavaScript as a mode of interfacing w/ a computer. when and how did artists start incorporating programming concepts into their practice? we’ll be answering all these questions as well as learning the fundamental concepts of modern programming ( variables, functions, loops and conditional statements )


“The importance of algorithms in our lives today cannot be overstated. They are used virtually everywhere, from financial institutions to dating sites. But some algorithms shape and control our world more than others”, we’ll be discussing the roles these algorithms play in our lives; we’ll learn how to write our own by building on our programming lesson from last week; we’ll look at how different new media artists engage with algorithms aesthetically, conceptually and politically.


I will be out of town this week, Chris Collins who teaches Art Games will be the substitute. Art Games considers computer based games as New Media artworks and art as a game-like system. Computer-based games constitute a significant form of new screen media and cultural activity. Chris will survey/demo/play works by artists working at the intersection of indie games and new media art as well as introduce the tools/resources ( Unity, Google Warehouse, etc. ) available for developing art games.


new media artists ( and “Critical Engineers” ) Julian Oliver and Danja Vasiliev define the Internet as “A deeply misunderstood technology upon which we increasingly depend”. we’ll look at how/why the Internet was created; we’ll learn how it works and what “control” means in a decentralized system. we’ll survey canonical “net.art” and Web Art works as well as learn the basics behind its development and distribution ( HTML, CSS, FTP )


from Vannevar Bush to Ted Nelson to Tim Berners-Lee to you. we’ll discuss what the world wide web is (not to be confused w/ the Internet) and how it came to be as well as discuss the concepts of “hyper” media broadly. we’ll learn how to apply our programming knowledge to the web to create experimental hypermedia narratives.


Copying has always been (a) key to cultural production. Over the last couple of centuries, “the interdependence of our creativity has been obscured by powerful cultural ideas, but technology is now exposing this connectedness. [Today] we’re struggling legally, ethically and artistically to deal with these implications.” we’ll discuss the politics of “open-source” culture as well as learn about its technical apparatus ( cvs, git, etc. )


“Software has become our interface to the world, to others, to our memory and our imagination—a universal language through which the world speaks, and a universal engine on which the world runs.” we’ll be looking at how artware ( or software art ) produced by artists goes beyond software’s traditional utilitarian role, and into the realms of critical/social/speculative software, “software designed explicitly to pull the rug from underneath normalized understanding of software”. we’ll also be learning the basics of the flow-based programming ( also known as visual programming; specifically Max/MSP )


the realtime nature of digital audio/visual systems allows for live/performative new media art. we’ll discuss the “realtime” philosophies of early live experimental media artists and look at works by realtime artists using and misusing audio/visual systems towards performative ends. we’ll continue to learn the fundamentals of flow-based programming, specifically realtime video manipulation ( w/ Jitter )


a glitch is an unexpected moment in a system that calls attention to that system. glitch art is anytime an artist intentionally leverages that moment, by either recontextualizing or provoking glitches. glitch art isn’t a medium so much as it is a way to approach media ( an ethic ). some glitch artists make videos, others make gifs, others do performance, others make prints or photos or textiles or sculptures, etc. the one thing all glitch artists agree on is the potential of that moment we call a gltich.


class presentations of our final project proposals. your written proposal ( to be turned in on the class website before the start of class ) should be 1 page in length. each student will have 20 minutes, you should prepare a 10 minute presentation and use the remaining 10 minutes for feedback. requirements/details available in the lecture notes && in the syllabus.

in progress


each student will have 20mins to present/critique their “in progress” finals. projects do not have to be complete/finished, they can be in a draft/preliminary/prototype form. however you should be prepared to provide any necessary context required to communicate a clear enough picture of your project to have a productive critique. requirements/details available in the lecture notes && in the syllabus.

final critique

lass presentations of our final projects. your web based documentation page ( to be turned in on the class website before the start of class ). requirements/details available in the lecture notes && in the syllabus.