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Sense, Perception, and the Mediated Body, Spring 2011

ARTD 3700 / DMST 3900

Special Topics: Sense, Perception, and the Mediated Body

OVERVIEW
This special topics course seeks to explore questions of our physical senses in relation to the experience of our surroundings, with an emphasis on reception of meaning through aesthetic and technological means. By combining a critical examination of the senses of the body with applications of digital technologies, we can begin to form a basis of understanding how media can extend, truncate, alter or augment our experiences. In turn, this may also provide meaningful direction to the implementation of new media tools.

OBJECTIVES
1. To pursue a survey/overview of historical, philosophical, and scientific ideas about sense and perception.

2. To engage in an exploration of the senses of the body in physical space. Look at an expanded view of sense and perception. Look at how the body perceives and responds to space/spatial systems.

3. To enact empirical investigations into the senses. Student-designed experiments into perception and sensory systems. How the body perceives through our various senses. Exploration of the combination of senses.

4. To develop student-initiated creative projects that explore a renewed relationship of digital technologies and human sense perception with the intention of conveying specific meanings and/or experiences.

COURSE STRUCTURE
By combining seminar and studio formats, this course will employ pedagogies of rigorous
intellectual inquiry and focused creative design output.

The course will be broken into four themes: Attention; Memory; Movement; Space & Time. Each topic will provide a frame through which we will investigate the senses, and will also form the basis for student creative projects. By using a thematic approach, we will be able to freely move between isolated study of individual senses and a combinatory approach.

With each topic we will follow a similar process: Reading and discussion of background material; observation, experimentation and documentation; development and presentation of a creative engagement of the senses. Course material may be augmented with field trips and/or guest lecturers, TBD.

TOOLS AND MEANS
Students will be encouraged to work with the technologies available in the new C3 Digital Media Lab. Students will also be encouraged to take their explorations out of the Lab and into other environments, and to seek out individual and community interfaces, and implications and opportunities provided by unique environmental and architectural contexts.

GOALS
Upon successful completion of this course, students should have an understanding of the range of issues and concerns regarding the physical senses and how they pertain to emerging digital practices. Students will be able to demonstrate:

  1. the ability to synthesize ideas presented in the readings and apply them to the practical aspects of the course;
  2. a knowledge of terms and concepts in general use in the field of study;
  3. a general fluency with the possible sense-interfaces with new media technologies.Additionally, Students will produce portfolio-worthy creative projects and document those projects in a publishable form that will stand as a record of your efforts.TEXTS
    Jones, Caroline.
    Sensorium: Embodied Experience, Technology, and Contemporary Art
    MIT Press, 2006 

    Jütte, Robert.
    A History of the Senses
    Polity Press, 2005

    Barbara, Anna, and Perliss, Anthony.
    Invisible Architecture: Experiencing Places through the Sense of Smell
    Skira Editore, 2006

    Howes, David (ed.)
    Empire of the Senses
    Berg, 2005

    Marks, Laura U.
    Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media
    University of Minnesota Press, 2002

    Noë, Alva, and Thompson, Evan (eds.)
    Vision and Mind: Selected Readings in the Philosophy of Perception
    MIT Press, 2002

    ASSIGNMENTS/PROJECTS (Brief)
    1. Students will contribute weekly entries to the class website based on the current topic of study. Specific assignments will be given.

    2. Each student will facilitate one class session during the quarter, leading the class through reading, discussion, and creative exercises formed around a chosen topic.

    3. Students will develop and present small-scale creative projects for each of the Topics covered in the course (attention, memory, movement, space & time). These will will employ the digital media tools of your choosing. Documentation of each project will be uploaded to the class website.

    4. Reading, writing and discussion. Students are required to complete reading assignments and be prepared to discuss them in class.

    5. A final creative project will be due at the end of the quarter. Students will use the space and equipment of the new eMAD Hypercube facility to present final projects.

    6. Documentation of all projects will be collected and kept by students, and will be collected in book/DVD format at the end of the quarter.