The Department of Digital + Media
Rhode Island School of Design
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Classes

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.

Studio/Seminar I (DM-7100)

This course is a mix of individual advising sessions, required lectures and group critiques.

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. Each year 6-8 visiting artists/technologists/scientists are selected by both faculty and students to lecture and give studio visits.

In addition, as part of Studio/Seminar I, students participate in a variety of workshops designed to introduce them to a broad range of media and techniques. These mini skill-based workshops are offered throughout the year to both first and second year Digital + Media students.

Digital + Media majors only. Registration by Digital + Media department, course not available via web registration.

Studio/Seminar II (DM-7102)

spring, 18, 9 Credits

Faculty

Shona Kitchen Matt Kenyon
A continuation of Studio/Seminar I for first year graduate students in D+M.

Studio/Seminar II is a mix of individual advising sessions, required lecture series and focused group critiques.  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. Each year 6-8 visiting artists/technologists/scientist are selected by both faculty and students to give a lecture and do individual studio visits. A pool of mini skill workshops are offered throughout the year which students can sign up for. At the end of the spring semester students submit a summer research proposal which will form the conceptual foundations upon their return to 2nd year thesis.

Graduate major requirement; Digital + Media majors only Registration by Digital + Media department, course not available via web registration. 

Studio/Seminar III (DM-7108)

fall, 17, 9 Credits

Faculty

Matt Kenyon Mark Milloff
In this combined studio/seminar forum for second year D+M grads, 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. Student selected 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. The course is a mix of individual meetings, lectures, group reading discussions and critiques. 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.

Graduate Major requirement: Digital + Media majors only Registration by Digital + Media department, course not available via web registration.

Thesis Project (DM-7199)

spring, 18, 12 Credits

Faculty

Shona Kitchen Stephen Cooke Matt Kenyon
This course supports the practical, conceptual, theoretical and historical development of the M.F.A. thesis exhibition.

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.

SEMINAR courses in D+M support the development of conceptual and theoretical integrity by introducing students to the history of media art and theory.

Digital + Media Theory (DM-7538)

spring, 18, 3 Credits

Faculty

Benjamin Tiven
Digital + Media Theory develops student’s ability to contextualize and interrogate their own work and practice within a larger cultural lineage.

As critical phenomenology, the aim of this course is to influence two acts, how to see and how to critique digital media, as extension of unresolved conceptual and aesthetic problems and as catapult for entirely original practice and possibility. The approach is the ‘theoretical crit’ that students write each week in response to readings, methods, problems, and works closely explored. As in contemporary art, new media’s objects and theories are becoming increasingly interdependent. Thus, rather than using theory to evaluate artwork, we examine both work and theory, coming to contemporary, formal, critical, and instrumental voice through which to respond to assumptions and aspirations of each.

References include (but are not limited to) theorists such as  Marshall McLuhan, Jean Baudrillard and Walter Benjamin; filmmakers Maya Deren, Federico Fellini, Jean Luc-Godard, and Adam Curtis; writers such as Rebecca Solnit, Philip K. Dick, and J.G. Ballard; and artists, designers, and researchers from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines.

Graduate major requirement; Digital + Media majors only. Registration by Digital + Media department, course not available via web registration. Open to first-year graduate students

Digital Media Perspectives: History of Media Art (DM-7103)

fall, 17, 3 Credits

Faculty

George Fifield Mark Cetilia
In this historical survey, students analyze the aesthetic conventions, narratives, and formats of works in new media.

This course examines 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.

Topics covered (but not limited to):

What “materiality” means within the context of digital media, comparisons between its role and characteristics in expanded cinema, structural / materialist film, and the fields of video, glitch, and interactive art.

History of Interactive Installations in Galleries And Museums.

Artistic experiments with computers and cybernetics in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, via three themes: automation (how and why artists worked with and like computers), information (the politics of new media), and networks (identity in a connected world, both real and imagined).

Graduate major requirement; Digital + Media majors only. Registration by Digital + Media department, course not available via web registration. Open to first-year graduate

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.

D+M Writing Preparation (DM-7197)

fall, 17, 3 Credits

Faculty

Debra Balken
In D+M Writing Prep, students begin to think of the written thesis as a natural and necessary extension of studio practice.

In “On Permission to Write”, essayist Cynthia Ozick distinguishes between the “good-citizen writer” and the “shaman-writer” The first, she says, writes dutifully; the second, “obsessively”, “torrentially”, and most crucially, with self-given permission. For artists and designers who have, by and large, favored visual over written expression, obsession and torrent probably come more naturally in the studio than on the page. This course seeks to bring that same uninhibited, exploratory, and illuminating sensibility to the thesis, to suggest that writing is not a duty, but rather can be integral to studio practice. We will look at writing about one’s work — its art-historical, theoretical, and personal sources; its form and process; its motivation; its interpretation — as a kind of translation from form to language (one that can be as individual and authentic as our chosen materials). The course will include writing exercises designed to help us think more deeply and coherently about our work and ideas, as well as discussion of assigned readings. The readings are exclusively written by artists and designers: criticism, manifestos, journal writings, and artist interviews – a selection intended to suggest that in permitting themselves to write, artists and designers establish artistic agency, lineage, and history itself through that writing.

Registration by Digital + Media Department, course not available via web registration. Open to second-year graduate students.

Digital + Media Writing (DM-7198)

winter, 18, 3 Credits

Faculty

Claire Donato
In Digital + Media Graduate Written Thesis, students often discover the core concepts and basic rationale underlying their work.

This seminar includes intensive group writing sessions. Individual meetings also will be conducted to support each student in assembling a comprehensive written thesis. Centrally our task together is to understand and evaluate actual studio work and to communicate this clearly and effectively within a comprehensive document. To accomplish this we will address: thesis rationale, development of concepts, source material, context 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.

Open Electives

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.

Collaborative Study Project (DM-8965)

3 Credits

A Collaborative Study Project (CSP) allows two students to work collaboratively to complete a faculty supervised project of independent study.

Usually, a CSP is supervised by two faculty members, but with approval it may be supervised by one faculty member. Its purpose is to meet individual student needs by providing an alternative to regularly offered courses, though it is not a substitute for a course if that course is regularly offered.

CSPs 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 a CSP 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 CSP in the semester prior.

Course not available via web registration.

Experiments in Optics (DM-7009)

spring, 18, 3 Credits

Faculty

Jocelyne Prince
Experiments in Optics serves as an interface between the new technologies of digital media, and the old technologies of optics.

New digital technologies will be given alternative possibilities with the addition of specific projection apparatus (in terms of both projection optics and projection surfaces), plays with reflection (such as the construction of anamorphic cylinders, zoetropes, and other optical devices), and in the fabrication of project specific lenses. Given the hands-on nature of the glass department, the actual making and/or subversion of traditional optics is possible. The class will encourage collaborative work between students of varying experience levels and will foster the incorporation and dialogue between students of the two differing areas of expertise.

Independent Study Project (DM-8900)

3 Credits

An Independent Study Project (ISP) allows students to independently pursue a faculty supervised project in a specific, self defined area of interest.

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.

Interactive Text – Interactive Sound And Image Emphasis (DM-7001)

fall, 17, 3 Credits

Faculty

Rafael Attias
Presented as fine art practice, this course introduces students to narrative and non-narrative experimentation with language in digital space.

During the course students will be given a number of short term assignments which will serve as explorations of common themes. Students will also propose a longer term investigation, that will develop in the form of a semester long project.

We will explore both analog and digital technologies to develop the concepts presented during the semester, utilizing Final Cut, After Effects, Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, Ableton Live and/or other programs for the production of texts. The course will have an interactive sound and image emphasis. Students will experiment with interactive text, visuals, and audio composition in the digital realm, placing emphasis on the effect and meaning transformation that occurs when texts are combined with visuals and audio material.

The course will balance conceptual concerns related to content and structuring methodologies with artistic expression. Specific Aesthetic histories will be explored tracing the use of text in artistic practice including Concrete Poetry, the texts of Kurt Schwitters, Russian Constructivist posters, Fluxus poetic works, the Dada and Surrealist Word/Image, Magritte, Jenny Holtzer, Ed Ruscha, Barbara Kruger as well as other contemporary practitioners.

Physical Computing (DM-7026)

spring, 18, 3 Credits

Faculty

Paul Badger
An introduction to low-level electronic technologies such as sensors, microcontrollers, display technologies and motors.

Physical Computing reviews the basics of electricity and microcontrollers (one-chip computers). A wide range of sensors, and output technologies will be presented, and demonstrated so that students have a sense of currently available low cost technologies that are available for artwork and their course work.

The hardware on which the course will be based is low-cost wireless microcontroller modules and a basic array of sensors and interface tech. The modules can be used to record data from the body wirelessly, or to harvest user information from a gallery installation. The modules can also be used to drive output systems, such as displays, sound, or motors. Students will also be expected to pursue technology that interests them including specialized sensors and output devices.

If there is class interest and time students can construct our own printed circuit boards, in order  to “close the loop” between the roles of consumers and constructors of hardware based electronic systems. Readings and discussions will interrogate some of the latest tech industry jargon such as the “Internet of Things” and the place that robots and automation might have in the future, as well as writings by artists working with technology.

Professional Internship (DM-8960)

3 Credits

A Professional Internship provides valuable exposure to a professional setting, enabling students to better establish a career path and define practical aspirations.

Internship proposals are carefully vetted to determine legitimacy and must meet the contact hour requirements listed in the RISD Course Announcement.

Course not available via web registration.

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.

Interventions in Capitalism (DM-4532)

fall and spring, 17, 3 Credits

Faculty

Edek Sher Matt Kenyon
This course is a rigorous, graduate level exploration of capitalism.

As a research studio, this course is a combined studio production, critique, and seminar class that explores creative expression and creative thinking within and outside of capitalism. The goal of the course is to foster a space for unique research methods and hands on explorations of capitalism. Each student will explore the history, culture, theory and technology of capitalism through hands on making, individualized research, and discussion.

Potential areas of investigation may include: wearable computing, physical computing, interactive performance, social media interventions, tactical media, art science collaboration, material science, smart materials, artificial life, art activism, and serious game design.

Sonic Practices (DM-3104)

fall and spring, 17, 3 Credits

Faculty

Mark Cetilia Asha Tamirisa
Participants in Sonic Practices explore audio culture and technology while developing experimental approaches to composition, performance, recording, and/or listening.

Sonic Practices is a graduate-level research group focused on acoustic, electronic, and/or computer based means of sound production and reception. 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.

This course is offered in both the fall 2017 and spring 2018 semesters; students make take one or both sections. Each section is 3 credits. 

Technological Landscapes (DM-7152)

fall and spring, 17, 3 Credits

Faculty

Alyson Ogasian Shona Kitchen
Technological Landscapes is an experimental, interdisciplinary research group focusing on the intersection of place, landscape and technology.

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.

For the 2017-18 academic year, Technological Landscapes Research Studio will focus on the development and history of nuclear technology, and the resulting psychological and physical consequences as they manifest in our landscape and communities. Beginning with deep, investigative research into contemporary and historic nuclear testing and preparedness infrastructure, students will investigate how and why specific sites testing/preparedness sites are chosen, and will explore how these sites are consequently used and affected. Students will draw upon their research to develop projects that present/articulate their own ideas on a subject/ site of consequence. The end goal is to critically comment upon the equivalent technologies/infrastructure of today or to hypothesize a near or far future scenario that could range from surreal to fantastic.

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.