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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Taught by second year graduate students Hanul Kim + Xiaohan Li
The reality today is one in which machines and humans abide by each other in nature. What does it mean for human faculties in times of AI’s rapid machine learning? In light of AlphaGo and a machine-generated ‘new’ Rembrandt painting, how distinctive is creativity the singular human faculty? If non-human entities must be considered as equally as humans, what kind of ‘confusion’ do we hold onto as humans?
In this course, we will grapple with two philosophical ideas, which explicitly deal with the cognitive/emotive powers in sensation and imagination; the Sublime by Kant, and Affect by Spinoza. Assisted by Gilles Deleuze’s interpretations on these ideas, in-class screenings include films by Aleksei Yuryevich German, Hiroshi Teshigahara, John Cassavetes, Kim Ki-duk, Luis Bunuel, Sergei Parajanov, Shinya Tsukamoto, Shohei Imamura, Tod Browning, Werner Herzog, and Yukio Mishima. In merging the texts with the films, we will ask what it means to think impersonally, in terms of incapacity. Is our ‘incomprehensibility’ what leads to the sublime? What does it mean to be ‘intense’ or ‘passionate’? We will see what it means to think ‘through’ ourselves, yet also to project our thoughts ‘beyond’ ourselves.
This course is taught by D+M Graduate students Jeremiah Johnson and Joe Winograd.
“Jack of All Trades/Master of None” is for students that struggle to bring their big ideas to life. This course will challenge students to evaluate their own studio and critical research methods and introduce alternative tools and thinking exercises to transform their studio practice while at RISD. Through a combination of technical workshops, discussions and performative team-building games, students will tackle complicated creative problems with low-tech materials, messy experimentation and activities outside of the classroom.
Throughout the course students will devise unique strategies to accomplish ambitious goals despite the constraints of the art school experience. They will need a balance of imaginative risk-taking and structured self-discipline to push the boundaries of homemade “Do-It-Yourself” projects despite limited budgets and quick deadlines. Students will be given a series of creative assignments with different timeframes, such as one hour, one week, and the whole duration of Winter Session to retry their once-abandoned project ideas and produce effective brainstorming techniques for when they face future creative roadblocks.
While much of this course will be designed around various modes of social interaction and group participation, lectures and readings will be presented to introduce technical tools and critical themes through a variety of historical and contemporary perspectives. Students will examine modes of abstract problem solving and examples of successful projects born out of “Writer’s Block” and will research artists and designers that incorporate learnable and accessible materials or processes into their work including open source software, recycled or found objects, special effects, social media and public guerilla marketing.
This course is taught by D+M Graduate student Cody Filardi and Courtney Engstrom. How can we see our identities as fluid material to utilize and explore in our work? How can we use ourselves as props to propel and extend our many identities? How do we perform and present these aspects of our selfhood for our audience and for ourselves?
This course will focus on interdisciplinary approaches to creating narratives of selfhood. Using personal experience as a catalyst to drive our work we will centralize vulnerability and expose identities often hidden from view. Throughout this course we will look at theoretical and process-based image and media making that surrounds selfhood as material including examples of historical and contemporary visual culture that queer, subvert, problematize and expand upon these notions.
Engaging with the personal is a form of resistance and we will engage with this notion as we become fluent with low tech, easily accessible, hands on, high concept approaches to working with and around media that explores selfhood. We will not be concerned with high production value and will be using a de-skilled zine ethos to engage with the work we are making and consuming.
This course is taught by D+M Graduate student Ben Aron.
The 20th century Avant-garde artist Marcel Duchamp is often credited with introducing the notion of the artwork as collaborative performance between artist and viewer. Today, this theory could not be more relevant, as artists and designers of all media are increasingly creating works that engage with the public sphere. Explosions in the fields of social practice, participatory art, institutional critique, performance art and net art have brought about new methodological considerations for artists. Traditional conceptions of materiality and authorship have been questioned, but also the ethical responsibilities of the artist, institution, and government to local and global populations. What do we share in the public? And is it all shared equally?
This course aims to assist students in formulating projects for public space-outdoors, in print, online, etc. Studio experiments, workshops, lectures and field trips will be designed to provide students with context and develop individual methods of working. Skill-based workshops will touch upon diverse technologies often used in the field-video projection, live sound, lighting for performance and installation, and interactive electronics. Class discussion and critique of current artists’ projects in Providence, Boston, and New York will offer an additional perspective. The course will culminate in each student presenting a comprehensive public project, demonstrating conceptual and technical growth.