Graduate Major Requirements
STUDIO/SEMINAR is a combined forum supporting the exploration of theoretical, social, material, technical and contextual research and concerns in new media arts practice. Students are introduced to and become familiar with a vocabulary of methodologies. Students are expected to drive and determine their own area(s) of interest, and to develop a rigorous artistic research-driven practice in which conceptual intention determines form and media.
This course supports the exploration of theoretical, social, material, technical and contextual research and concerns in new media arts practice during the first year of the first year of the D + M MFA program. It is a combined studio and seminar forum for Digital + Media first-year students. Participants become familiar with a vocabulary of multiple practices within digital media and, through a rigorous, hands-on approach, develop a thorough understanding of computational media as it applies to her/his individual creative practice. Students are introduced to a core set of methodologies and technologies from basic electronics and programming to interaction design to installation, and are encouraged to break comfort zones and practice through experimentation. Students conceptualize and discuss their studio-based work and their ongoing practice. Readings in critical cultural theory, media art theory, philosophy, semiotics and other areas further ground the conceptual approach of students in the Digital + Media department. The course is a mix of individual meetings, a required lecture and workshop series and group critiques. Some guest lecturers and visiting critics may also become involved with this class in terms of critical/research aspects. With a focus on studio experimentation and production, students will conceptualize and discuss their works-in-progress while beginning to work with new materials and systems in combination with a broad range media. Each student will practice articulating their ongoing studio art process and work, and will contribute to the dialogue concerning the research and work of their classmates.
This course supports the exploration of theoretical, social, material, technical and contextual research and concerns in new media arts practice during the third semester of the D + M MFA program. Students conceptualize and discuss their studio-based work and their ongoing practice as they begin the thesis process. Working artist bibliographies are developed – both projects and texts. Readings in critical cultural theory, media art theory, philosophy, semiotics and other areas further support the contextualization and grounding of the innovative practical and conceptual approaches of students in the Digital + Media department. The course is a mix of individual meetings, an optional lecture and workshop series and group critiques. Guest lecturers and visiting critics may also become involved with this class in terms of critical/research aspects. Each student will practice articulating their art process and work towards thesis, and will contribute to the dialogue concerning the research and work of their classmates.
Formal group critiques are required at the midterm and end of the semester. A major final critique with visiting critics is held in the context of the final MFA Exhibition.
Building on an independently directed body of research, second year D+M students develop new, leading-edge approaches to sustainable artistic practice. Working independently and in consultation with their with a thesis committee, MFA candidates integrate conceptual and technical skills in order to articulate a polished, intellectually robust thesis project. This can take a variety of forms including experimental games, performance, video installation, interactive sculpture, speculative design and more. All graduate students participate in the annual RISD Graduate Thesis Exhibition.
Graduate major requirement; Digital + Media majors only. Registration by Digital + Media department, course not available via web registration.
The workshops will give an introduction into various techniques, tools, materials, and methodologies that could be used to support a studio practice. Classes will teach foundational skills and students will gain a practical understanding of the various technologies and how they might be used within the context of research and studio practice. The course will be primarily technical, but will also encourage hands-on experimentation, and continued discussions about the impacts and activation of working with new technologies. These evaluations are not just in context of producing art, but to foster understanding about technology’s cultural effects and the possibilities for its role in society.
First years are required to take a minimum of 4 workshops. Workshop are limited to Max 15 students. Second years can take workshops if space is available.
SEMINAR courses in D+M support the development of conceptual and theoretical integrity by introducing students to the history of media art and theory.
This seminar course analyzes the aesthetic conventions, narratives, and formats of works in new media. As a group, we will examine the impact digital technologies and new media have had on existing media, as well as the ways in which new media function as a unique system of communication. While investigating the aesthetic conventions, economic conditions and infrastructures that affect the production of new media, we will address the social and political contexts in which new media are disseminated, interpreted and privileged. Within this course, students will be expected to identify, analyze, and critique readings that critically inform and underwrite the foundations of their written thesis and studio practice.
Students will contribute to the focus of the course through discussions and writings that contextualize their own work as it relates to critical theory. Class time will be mainly used
for discussion of readings and concepts, critique of work and to introduce methods and theory.
In this historical survey, we analyze the aesthetic conventions, narratives, and formats of works in new media. We examine the impact digital technologies and new media have had on existing media, as well as the ways in which new media function as a unique system of communication. While investigating the aesthetic conventions, economic conditions and infrastructures that affect the production of new media, we address the social and political contexts in which new media are disseminated, interpreted and privileged. We make connections across decades by focusing on the recurring themes of language, futurism, simulation, hyper-reality, transnationality and information.
WRITING about, or through work made in the studio is key to graduate education at RISD, with the creation of a written thesis a requirement in Digital + Media. The written thesis is a natural and necessary extension of studio practice. In the process of organizing and articulating thoughts in the form of writing, students often discover the core concepts and basic rationale underlying their work. In fact, as much as the work drives and directs the written content, the act of writing helps further clarify the conceptual thinking behind the work.
This studio course is comprised of intensive writing sessions, group critiques, and one-on-one meetings designed to support each student in assembling a comprehensive written thesis. Within this class, students will develop a critical, conceptual understanding of their studio work and process. Students will explore strategies for communicating the conceptual underpinnings of their studio practice clearly and effectively within a comprehensive document. To accomplish this we will address: thesis rationale, development of concepts, and an analysis of source material that may include relevant philosophical, aesthetic and theoretical issues as well as working process. Structure, layout, documentation, and the mechanics of formatting will also be explored in depth.
GENERAL ELECTIVES offered within Digital + Media typically take the form of studio courses that support the development of technical skills and conceptual integrity. General Electives may be run solely through Digital + Media or may be cross-listed with another collaborating department at RISD.
In this course we will critically inquire into ways artists and thinkers reimagine digital technologies as we ourselves work to do the same. We will experiment with digital photography, video, nonlinear storytelling, digital networked performance. Throughout the semester, we will work on a series of short projects and a final individual or collaborative piece. We’ll cover works by Keith + Mendi Obadike, Nam June Paik, E.A.T., Meriem Bennani, Laurie Anderson, MONGREL, VNS Matrix, Madeline Gins, Signe Pierce, Roy Ascott, Lilian Schwartz among many others!
The Independent Study Project (ISP) allows students to supplement the established curriculum by completing a faculty supervised project for credit in a specific area of interest. Its purpose is to meet individual student needs by providing an alternative to regularly offered courses.
ISPs are available Fall, Wintersession, and Spring. They may not be taken during the Summer.
With the consent and assistance of the faculty member, students prepare a proposal and an application for the work to be accomplished (electronic application forms can be obtained online from the Registrar’s website). The student will be properly enrolled once the electronic form, along with the required approvals, are completed and sent to the Registrar’s Office.
Approval for an ISP must be submitted to the Registrar in accordance with the timeline outlined in the Academic Calendar. In order to meet this deadline, students are encouraged to meet with their chosen tutor as soon as they know they desire an ISP in the semester prior.
Course not available via web registration.
This cross-disciplinary studio course explores systems and their relationship to power, economy, society and culture, through interventions in, dismantling of, hacking within, or building our own systems. In the late 1960s, American culture began to transition from being object-oriented to being systems-oriented. Fifty years later, global systems such as supply chains, social media algorithms, neo liberal policies, surveillance infrastructure, and systemic oppression seem at the forefront of conversation. Meanwhile, the intersection of systems and power has become a dominant thread in artistic discourse. In this studio, students will choose a system from the contemporary world that they wish to explore, and will make work that employs or works against aspects of this system. Students will complete small assignments and work towards one significant final project. We will look at international artists and writers such as Hito Steyerl, Trev or Paglen, Zach Blas, Jill Magid, Cameron Rowland, and more. These individuals (in order) make work about the global circulation of images, the ethics of government vision systems, the gendered politics of pattern recognition, the poetics of bureaucracies, and the prison system’s role in systemic oppression. By discussing these individuals’ works, amongst others’, students will leave the class with the skills necessary to deconstruct complex topics, critique artworks through the lens of power, distill nuanced perspectives into their works of art and design, and make works that center on the way things are done instead of on the things themselves.
RESEARCH STUDIOS are facilitated by top practitioners in the field, and foster an environment for interdisciplinary exploration of art and technology in context around a core theme, enabling individual inquiry and high-level collaboration. Participants engage in current dialogues and methodologies of practice directed toward meaningful impact in social and environmental realities and potential realities.
Sonic Practices is a graduate-level research group focused on acoustic, electronic, and/or computer-based means of sound production and reception. Participants explore audio culture and technology while developing experimental approaches to composition, performance, recording, and/or listening.
Areas of investigation include, but are not limited to: audio programming languages, embedded/mobile computing for sound and music, spatial audio, sound synthesis, audio electronics, sonification and auditory display, electroacoustic music composition and improvisation, field recording and soundscape studies, sound installation and performance, and sonic interaction design.
Each semester, course content changes in response to a new unifying theme upon which students base individual and team-based research projects. Meetings consist of discussions, workshops, critiques, and collaborations that support students’ individual inquiries, the exchange of ideas, and the exploration of research methodologies.
Participants in Technological Landscapes are passionate but critical observers of today’s physical and virtual environment in relation to ubiquitous, integrated, and emerging technologies.
Throughout the semester, the group investigates new modes of creative inquiry relating to place-based practice including fieldwork and site visits, direct experience, interdisciplinary collaboration, and public art. Technological Landscapes fosters an open dialogue between creative research, critical studio practice and direct observation/real-world experience by forming research partnerships with individuals and institutions typically outside the world of art. Participants in Technological Landscapes have worked directly with the University of Rhode Island’s Inner Space Center, NASA’s Airborne Sensor Facility, Stanford’s Linear Accelerator and the Naval Historical Collection at the Naval War College, Newport, amongst others.
Each year, participants identify, drive and facilitate the focus, research partnerships, and group excursions through conversation and consensus. Recent topics of investigation include (but are not limited to) the social and psychological impact of technological development in Silicon Valley; the intersection of land use, technology and ecology at Quonset Point, Rhode Island; the act of image-making as a means of understanding landscape; and submarine fiber optic cables and the physical manifestation internet infrastructure in the landscape. Each year the group locates and secures an exhibition space or develops a site-specific work within the site/topic of study.
WINTERSESSION allows for an intense exploration of a specific discipline, a special topic, new techniques, experimental processes and more. During Wintersession, D+M graduate students are invited to design studio electives open to the entire student body in which “the digital” is both the means and the ends of inquiry.
People send flowers when you’re ill, when you’re well, when you’re born and when you die. We print flowers on clothing, we stitch flowers on upholstery, we paper our walls with flowers. They appear in songs, plays, poems and food. Flowers adorn our architecture, furniture, clothing and bodies. We use perfume to smell like flowers. We name our children after flowers. The world is (nothing but) flowers.
In this studio/seminar students will be exploring flowers as both artistic subject and medium. The class will gain a deeper understanding of how flowers have been used throughout art history; from 17th Century Dutch still life to Obama’s presidential portrait. In order to comprehend the semiotics of flowers we will investigate how the their meanings vary between traditions, locations, time periods and cultures through class lectures, assigned readings, guest speakers and field trips. Students will also learn some basic botany, species identification and care.
The goal of the course is to inspire student investigation and expand their visual and critical vocabulary. They will discover and define their own practice of artistic research, a methodology which can be applied to any topic or subject. Students will present work regularly in class for critique. The work, however, can take any form; from pencil drawings to virtual reality. Students are responsible for folding the topics and themes discussed in the course into their own practice. The intention of the course is to inspire work, not dictate it.
Introduction to Projection Mapping is a studio-based course focused on using projection mapping as a way to combine physical and virtual spaces together. Projection Mapping is using technology to project objects onto a surface. The purpose of this technique is to stay away from flat screen projecting. This class serves as a comprehensive introduction to methods for creating projection mapping for beginners. Our exercise during the studio will be recognizing how the video content relates to the shape of the surface, making animation, and projecting onto a simple 2 or 3-dimensional surface through mapping skills. Using a combination of media, such as photography, video, animation, sound, sculpture, and installation, you will learn the basic principles behind projection mapping and then apply them to a final project that will involve a 3D projection map on an art object of your choice. You will design a video and sound component that will be mapped onto your object, bringing it to life and challenging the viewer’s perception through a clever use of light and sound. During the course, you also will learn how to scale up your work for a large gallery or an architectural application. In the discussion section, students will discuss how mapping allows an audience to experience an augmented reality in which virtual space and reality overlap, as well as the expanded illusion of space in projection mapping. Historical and contemporary works of projection mapping will be presented and assigned for analysis. After Effects, Cinema 4D, Madmapper and Millumin will be the main softwares for the class.
Technology is becoming a part of every conversation we have. What influence does it have, and how can we leverage it to create new possibilities? The objective of this course is to create and work with physical materials through the lens of technology. This class explores the various ways material may be analyzed, generated, and affected by computation. We’ll be exploring how our day to day art practice can be enhanced by media and technology. Technological components will be incorporated in experimental media creation. This course is intended for object-makers who wish to introduce motion and technology into their sculpture, installation, performance, etc… Historical and contemporary works will be presented and discussed to provide a context for studio projects. Class time will consist of discussions, critiques for projects, technical workshops, trouble-shooting, studio visits, and 1 on 1 meetings. Students will be introduced to Arduino, motors, sensors, and microcontrollers in the making of art.
In the year 2018, social media is more that just a platform to message your friends; it is the primary means in which we consume the majority of our information. People are living more and more of their lives online, which in turn means that art itself is existing more and more on these platforms as well. The artist who does not embrace platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr for their work is the artist who will be left behind in the dust. Yes, you can take a class on tools like laser cutting or gouache or Final Cut, but it is social media platforms are arguably the most powerful tool at an artist’s disposal. If an artist wants their work to reach the masses, they are better off mastering the art of going viral than they are getting their art into the Met.
This is a studio and seminar based course. For the seminar aspect of this class, we will focus on various questions such as: How has our consumption of art changed as social media has evolved? Have these platforms enhanced or hurt art? What is even the definition of “art” on social media? Is a meme art? What about a GIF or a youtube video? What makes a piece of art go viral…and does “viral” necessarily make it “good”? How as artists can we take advantage of “viralness”? For the studio portion of this class, students will have the opportunity to create a number of social media based art projects with the goal being to make their work go viral.