Fine Arts: Animation
Mixed Media Animation (FNAR289)
Mixed Media Animation is a contemporary survey of stop-motion animation concepts and techniques. Students use digital SLR cameras, scanners and digital compositing software to produce works in hand-drawn animation, puppet and clay animation, sand animation, and multiplane collage animation. Screenings and discussions in the course introduce key historical examples of animation demonstrating how these techniques have been used in meaningful ways. Students then learn how to composite two or more of these methods with matte painting, computer animation or video.
Hand-Drawn Computer Animation (FNAR241)
Using software tools designed for hand-drawn animation, students will develop animation skills applicable to all forms of animation. In this course students will learn to draw with a sense of urgency and purpose as they represent motion and drama in a series of frames. Through careful study of natural movements, precedents in the history of animation, and through the completion of a series of animation projects students will develop strategies for representing naturalistic movement, inventing meaningful transformations of form, and storytelling
Computer Animation (FNAR267)
Through a series of studio projects this course introduces techniques of 2D and 3D computer animation. Emphasis is placed on time-based design and storytelling through animation performance and montage. Students will develop new sensitivities to movement, composition, cinematography, editing, sound, color and lighting
Environmental Animation (DSGN247)
This studio-based course examines the disciplinary spaces of landscape, art, and architecture through the medium of 3D animation and storytelling. We immerse ourselves in environments that may be as small as a cell or as large as a planet. From the refiguring of images, models, graphic design, or video to visualization or coding the genesis of whole environments, this course will allow for a variety of entry point for students of different disciplines and skill levels. Projects will range in scope from animated GIFs to animated shorts. This course embraces a spirit of invention, collaborative learning, and interdisciplinary cross-pollination. Experience in landscape architecture, architecture, animation, programming, film, GIS, and/or graphic design is encouraged. We will examine and discuss some standard typologies such as the walk-through, data-visualization, as well as filmic and avant garde strategies as starting points for creative reinterpretation of space. We will primarily be using Blender and After Effects with support from Unreal Engine. Python scripting will be included in most assignments to enhance artistic control of the software.
Fine Arts: Drawing & Painting
Drawing I (FNAR123)
This course is designed to develop visual awareness and perceptual acuity through the process of drawing. Students learn to sharpen perceptual skills through observational drawing, and to explore the expressive potential of drawing. A variety of problems and media will be presented in order to familiarize students with various methods of working and ways of communicating ideas visually. Subject matter will include object study, still life, interior and exterior space, self-portrait and the figure. Different techniques and materials (charcoal, graphite, ink, collage) are explored in order to understand the relationship between means, material and concept. Critical thinking skills are developed through frequent class critiques and through the presentation of and research into historical and contemporary precedent in drawing.
Contemporary Art Studio (FNAR125)
This course offers an introduction to studio-based practices aimed at synthesizing the expansive potentialities of art through exposure to a diverse set of approaches, their histories, and contemporary applications. A wide range of multi-disciplinary projects will provide students with skills to conceptualize and visualize material investigations. Lectures, readings, films, visiting lectures, field trips, and critiques, will provide a historic and theoretical foundation for critical inquiry.
Figure Drawing (FNAR280)
Students work directly from the nude model and focus on its articulation through an understanding of anatomical structure and function. Students will investigate a broad variety of drawing techniques and materials. The model will be used as the sole element in a composition and as a contextualized element.
Painting Practices (FNAR231)
Painting practices is an introduction to the methods and materials of oil painting. This course begins with an investigation of color and color relationships. The beginning of the semester will cover technical issues and develop the student's ability to create a convincing sense of form in space using mass, color, light and composition. The majority of work is from direct observation including object study, still life, landscape, interior and exterior space and the self-portrait. Class problems advance sequentially with attention paid to perceptual clarity, the selection and development of imagery, the process of synthesis and translation, color, structure and composition, content and personal expression. Students will become familiar with contemporary and art historical precedent in order to familiarize them with the history of visual ideas and find appropriate solutions to their painting problems.
Drawing Investigations (FNAR124)
Drawing is a fundamental means of visualization and a hub for thinking, constructing, and engaging in a wide variety of creative activities and problem solving. This studio class explores drawing in both its traditional and contemporary forms. The projects are designed to help students in all disciplines find ways express and clarify their ideas through the process of drawing. The semester begins with the refinement of perceptual skills acquired in Drawing I, while encouraging experimentation through the introduction of color, abstract agendas, conceptual problem solving, and collaborative exercises, as well as new materials, techniques and large format drawings. Particular attention is given to ways to conduct visual research in the development of personal imagery. Assignments are thematic or conceptually based with ample opportunity for individual approaches to media, subject, scale and process. The goal is to strengthen facility, develop clarity in intent and expand expression. Attention is paid to the development of perceptual sensitivity, methods of image construction, and the processes of synthesis and transformation in order to communicate ideas through visual means. Recommended for students in all areas.
Painting Studio (FNAR232/FNAR333/FNAR334)
Painting Studio presents an ongoing exploration of the techniques, problems and poetics of painting, the nuances of the painting language, and the development of a personal direction. A wide variety of problems will address such issues as color, composition, and the development of imagery, process, and content. Students are expected to improve in technical handling of paints and move towards developing personal modes of seeing, interpreting, and thinking for themselves. This course introduces different topics, strategies and individual challenges each semester, so it may be repeated with advanced course numbers: FNAR 333 and FNAR 334.
Fine Arts: Photography
Photography Practices (FNAR150)
This course is an introduction to the basic principles, strategies and processes of photographic practice. It is designed to broaden the student's aesthetic explorations and to help the student develop a visual language based on cross-disciplinary artistic practice. Through a series of projects and exercises students will be exposed to a range of camera formats, techniques and encouraged to experiment with the multiple modes and roles of photography - both analogue and digital. Attention will also be given to developing an understanding of critical aesthetic and historical issues in photography. Students will examine a range of historical and contemporary photo work as an essential part of understanding the possibilities of image making. This course is primarily for freshman and sophomores.
Intro to Photography: Black & White Film (FNAR271)
This course is an introduction to the basic processes and techniques of black & white photography. Students will learn how to expose and process 35mm film, SLR camera operation, darkroom procedures & printing, basic lighting and controlled applications. It begins with an emphasis on understanding and mastering technical procedures and evolves into an investigation of the creative and expressive possibilities of making images. This is a project-based course, where students will begin to develop their personal vision, their understanding of aesthetic issues and photographic history. Assignments, ideas and important examples of contemporary art will be presented via a series of slide lectures, critiques and discussion. No previous experience necessary. 35mm SLR cameras will be available throughout the semester for reservation and checkout from the photography equipment room.
Digital Photography (FNAR340)
This class offers an in-depth technical and conceptual foundation in digital imagery and the opportunity to explore the creative, expressive possibilities of photography. Students will become proficient with the basic use of the camera, techniques of digital capture, color management and color correction. They will also develop competency in scanning, retouching, printing and a variety of manipulation techniques in Photoshop. Through weekly lectures and critiques, students will become familiar with some of the most critical issues of representation, consider examples from photo history, analyze the impact of new technologies and social media. With an emphasis on structured shooting assignments, students are encouraged to experiment, expand their visual vocabulary while refining their technical skills. No previous experience is necessary. Although it is beneficial for students to have their own Digital SLR camera, registered students may reserve and checkout Digital SLR cameras and other high-end equipment from the department.
Digital Photography II (FNAR342)
In this course students will continue to develop conceptual, technical, aesthetic and formal strategies in digital photography, expanding their artistic process while refining their critical approach to researched subject matter. The class will be driven initially by a series of assignments formulated to further expose students to broad possibilities related to the medium and then they will be guided towards the evolution of a personalized body of work that is culturally, theoretically and historically informed. We will be examining key issues surrounding the digital image in contemporary society, led through a combination of class lectures, readings, group discussions, film screenings, gallery visits and class critiques. Students will further their knowledge of image control and manipulation, retouching and collage, advanced color management; become familiar with high-end camera and lighting equipment and develop professional printing skills. In addition to learning these advanced imaging practices, this course will also emphasize an investigation of critical thought surrounding contemporary visual culture and the role of digital media in the creation of art.
Reconfiguring Portrait (FNRA274)
As methods of representation are constantly shifting, one thing is clear - the photographic portrait is not what is used to be. Exploring both traditional and contemporary methods of portraiture, this class will uncover and discuss the ways in which we perceive each other in imagery, both as individuals and as groups. Throughout the semester, we will consider how portraits deal with truth, physical absence, the gaze, cultural embodiment, voyeurism and the digital persona. This course will build on the combination of perception, technology, and practice. Throughout the semester, students will advance by learning lighting techniques and strategies of presentation - as these core skills will become tools in the execution of project concepts. In tandem with each project, students will encounter and discuss a wide array of photography and writings from the past to the present, in an effort to understand the meanings and psychological effects of freezing the human image in time.
Studio Lighting (FNAR277)
The necessity of light and how light is rendered in relationship to what is seen and understood, is often a key ingredient in the portrayal of a subject. The origin of the still life can be found in images as far back as antiquity and has dealt with notions of death, science, class, social customs and even sex. Photography picked up on the tradition in 1827 and has not only made use of the form, but has expanded the topic into very unique territories. Contemporary artists have re-invented and re-invigorated the still life, formalism & abstract photography. As a framework for exploring 'hands-on' lighting techniques, students will creatively grapple with the photography of objects in the studio. Working with the physical, symbolic, and conceptual ramifications of depicting specific forms in an image, teamed with the discussion of key texts, critiques, and studio lighting seminars, each student will create a considered and unique portfolio of images.
Photography & Fashion (FNAR284)
Since the invention of photography, the fashion industry has been one of the cornerstones of creative expression, innovation and visionary provocation. Contemporary fashion photography has continued to attract a leading group of image-makers that continue the tradition of creating artwork that not only is being published in cutting edge magazines such as V, Another Magazine and Citizen K, but also are exhibiting their work in various galleries and museums around the world. This course is designed for students who are interested in creating contemporary fashion images through specific assignments that define the process: lighting in studio or location, working with fashion designers, stylists, models, hair/ make-up artists, and the application of a variety of post-production techniques, via Photoshop. The class will explore modern constructs that define the importance of branding, marketing, advertising and the relationship of fashion photography in contemporary art and culture today.
Photography and Fiction (FNAR285)
In spite of photography's traditional relationship with fact, the medium has been a vehicle for fiction since the very beginning. Fiction and photography encompass a broad range of meanings, from elaborately staging and performing for the camera, to manipulations using digital technology such as Photoshop to construct the work. This class will examine and trace the history of manipulated photography while paying special attention to the complex negotiations between the decisive moment, the constructed tableau, and the digitally manipulated image. There will be a combination of class lectures, studio projects, assigned readings, visiting artists, film screenings, field trips, and class critiques.
Counter the Land (FNAR348)
Starting with the representation of landscape in painting in the early 1800s, the course will then move through Pictorialism and the Modernist movement in photography. Revisiting the latter half of the 20th century, we will begin to consider the shifting practices of landscape and the ways it has been photographically depicted up to the present. Collaborating with the Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, students will begin their photographic exploration with the work of Andrea Wyeth and the landscape of the Brandywine Valley. As we consider Wyeth, the images of James Welling will also be introduced. Credited for pioneering new forms of representation in photography in the 1970s, Welling also revisited the work of Wyeth from 2010-2015, and committed to a fresh (and challenging) look at tradition.
The Body and Photography (FNAR591)
The last few decades have introduced dramatic changes in the way we interact with each other, the way we communicate, the way we date, watch porn, etc. Ethical concerns have arisen with scientific advances such as stem cell research, fertility drugs, Botox, cloning and erectile dysfunction. This studio course will investigate the myriad ways in which the corporeal is addressed and manipulated in contemporary art, science, religion, pop culture and media. Students will develop photographic projects related to updated questions concerning gender, sexuality and social issues. Lectures, readings and class discussion will focus and inform their individual work.
Fine Arts: Printmaking
Introduction to Printmaking (FNAR250)
The course offers an introduction to several forms of printmaking including: intaglio, screen printing, relief, and monoprinting. Through in-class demonstrations students are introduced to various approaches to making and printing in each medium. The course enhances a student's capacity for developing images through two-dimensional design and conceptual processes. Technical and conceptual skills are developed through discussions and critiques.
Producing Ephemera (FNAR 220)
This studio course introduces students to the world of printmaking and circulation through techniques in letterpress and Risograph (a high-speed digital printing system developed in Japan in the 1980s), in addition to Xerox, laser, inkjet, and off-set printing, focusing particularly on the format of prints, artists' ephemera, and the role of ephemera in understanding culture. Students will create their own broadsides, flyers, announcement cards, and independent publications throughout the course, exploring ways in which artists, designers, musicians, and activists make or have made use of the print to disseminate information; initiate happenings; advertise events; or format change. Students will learn about some of the most significant producers working within this realm - from Conceptualists to punk bands - and develop skills in page layout, typography, and design; mechanized and hand-pulled press operations; and digital to analog pre-press and post-print production methods.
The class will challenge the possibilities of experimental drawing and ways of creating incisions and textures using copper plates as the matrix, which then will be printed on paper and other materials. The class offers full technical and historical description of each individual process: Dry Point, Etching, Hard ground, Soft Ground, Aquatint, Shine Cole', Spit-Biting, Sugar Lift, Color Printing and Viscosity printing.
Screenprinting (FNAR 252)
This course is an introduction to technical skills and investigative processes in screen printing and relief and examines methods for combining digital technology with traditional print media. The course introduces students to several contemporary applications of silkscreen and relief printmaking including techniques in multi-color printing, photo-based silk-screening, digital printing, woodcut, linocut, and letterpress. Demonstrations include photo and image manipulation, color separating and output techniques, hand carving and printing, as well as drawing and collage. Both traditional and experimental approaches are explored and encouraged and technical and conceptual skills are developed through discussions and critiques.
Printmaking Publications (FNAR254)
This course introduces students to independent publishing and artists' publications through print methods in letterpress, Risograph, and Xerox. The class will focus on the self-published artists' zine/book as an affordable, accessible, and easily reproducible format for exploring ideas, disseminating artists' work, and collaborating across disciplines. Students will learn a range of skills, including techniques in both mechanized and hand-pulled forms of printed media (Risograph, copy machine, Vandercook letterpress); short- run editions and binding; design and layout; pre-press and print production; and the web as it relates to and supports independent and democratic modes of distribution. Students will learn about and become acquainted with some of the most significant independent publishers working today and throughout history. Students will leave class having completed three individual projects: a 16-page booklet/zine; a carefully considered online publication, and a final collaborative book designed, developed and published as a class. The course commences with a field trip to New York City's Printed Matter, one of the oldest and most important nonprofit facilities dedicated to the promotion of artists' books, where students will be encouraged to submit a publication by semester's end.
Fine Arts: Sculpture
In this studio-based course, students are introduced to a wide range of approaches and techniques explore surface, space, and time (2D,3D,4D). Traditional sculptural materials and techniques will be investigated along with more ephemeral interventions in space such as sound, light, and projection. Through lectures, readings, and critiques, students will explore the history of installation and interactive sculptural work, discover new directions in contemporary art, and develop self-directed projects that interrogate historical, social, and psychological conditions of the built environment.
Sculpture Practices (FNAR145)
As an introduction to traditional and contemporary three-dimensional practice, this course is concerned with the concepts and methodologies surrounding three-dimensional art making in our time. Students experiment with a variety of modes of production, and develop some of the fundamental techniques used in sculpture. In addition to these investigations, assignments relative to the history and social impact of these practices are reinforced through readings and group discussion. Processes covered include use of the Fab Lab, wood construction, clay, paper, mixed media, and more.
Sculpture II (FNAR146)
In the contemporary moment, to make sculpture is to deal with all things: microscopic and monumental, subtle and blunt, real and imagined… it is an attempt at understanding three-dimensionality and dealing with questions of space. As a practice, sculptural approaches can be applied to all means of making, ranging from drawing to performance to video. In Sculpture II, students will work through prompts that develop and expand upon a technical fabrication skillset - woodworking, metalworking, mold making, casting, armature construction, surfacing, and assemblage - while also developing and expanding upon a conceptual framework and language surrounding sculpture through readings, group discussions, writings, film screenings, gallery visits, and group critiques. The course will begin with guided assignments to expose students to the expanded field of sculpture and as the semester progresses, will evolve into each student creating a self-directed and comprehensive body of work. We will consider fundamental tenets of sculpture – site specificity, materiality, installation - while also fostering each student's approach to material, technique, content, source, and context.
Fine Arts: Video & Performance
Video I (FNAR061)
In this studio-based course, students are introduced to video production and postproduction as well as to selected historical and theoretical texts addressing the medium of video. Students will be taught basic camera operation, sound recording and lighting, as well as basic video and sound editing and exporting using various screening and installation formats. In addition to a range of short assignment-based exercises, students will be expected to complete three short projects over the course of the semester. Critiques of these projects are crucial to the course as students are expected to speak at length about the formal, technical, critical and historical dimensions of their works. Weekly readings in philosophy, critical theory, artist statements and literature are assigned. The course will also include weekly screenings of films and videos, introducing students to the history of video art as well as to other contemporary practices.
Documentary Video (FNAR063)
Documentary Video is an intensive production course involving the exploration of concepts, techniques, concerns, and aesthetics of the short form documentary. Building on camera, sound, and editing skills acquired in Video I, students will produce a portfolio of short videos and one longer project over the course of the semester using advanced level camera and sound equipment. One short presentation on a genre, technique, maker, or contemporary concern selected by the student is required.
Cinema Production (FNAR065)
This course focuses on the practices and theory of producing narrative based cinema. Members of the course will become the film crew and produce a short digital film. Workshops on producing, directing, lighting, camera, sound and editing will build skills necessary for the hands-on production shoots. Visiting lecturers will critically discuss the individual roles of production in the context of the history of film.
Advanced Video Projects (FNAR067)
This course is structured to create a focused environment and support for individual inquiries and projects. Students will present and discuss their work in one to one meetings with the instructor and in group critiques. Readings, screenings, and technical demonstrations will vary depending on students' past history as well as technical, theoretical, and aesthetic interests.
Advanced Lens Based Proj (FNAR076)
Advanced Lens Based Projects (ALBP) is structured to create an open environment for students to develop a series of self-determined projects using any variety of image capture technologies. Mobile devices and DSLRs have blended the function of moving and still image capture while computers have become ubiquitous as instruments of display and dissemination. This has consequently led to the increasingly collapsed boundaries of artistic mediums. ALBP is a studio class where students will explore different modes of production and address the expanding field of exhibition strategies. Additionally, the class will foster a transdisciplinary approach to critiquing work and emphasize the shared context of the works reception.
This intermediate course will explore the wide and expansive territories of art-making that exist between live performance and mediated image making–both still and moving. For much of the 21st century, the mediums of performance, video and photography have been weaving in and out of contact. Performance is known and understood largely through its documentation: sometimes voluminous and sometimes little more than a single photograph. On the other side, video, film and photography each developed through widespread explorations that were deeply entwined with the “capturing” of bodies on film. Using photography, video and performance in equal parts, the course is a hands-on exploration of this capacious terrain. The course will be structured by a series of bi-weekly assignments that allow for individual and collective production. The course will also include a regular schedule of short readings and presentations/screenings of existing works.
Performance Studio (FNAR085)
This course supports the individual and collaborative production of performance works. As the medium of performance consists of diverse forms, actions, activities, practices and methodologies, the course allows for an open exploration in terms of material and form. Students are invited to utilize technologies, materials and methodologies from other mediums and/or disciplines such as video, photography, writing and sound. In addition to the production component, the course will examine multiple histories of performance through readings, screenings and directed research.
Fine Arts: Seminars & Interdisciplinary Studios
Interdisciplinary Studio (FNAR331)
This course takes an experimental multimedia approach to investigating some of the boundaries in contemporary art making practices. Painting, photography, video, design and sculpture intersect, overlap, and converge in complicated ways. Projects will be designed to explore hybrid forms, collage, space/ installation, and color through a variety of strategic and conceptual proposals as students work towards unique ways of expanding their own work. Weekly readings, critiques, and presentations will be integrated with studio projects. This studio/seminar is appropriate for students at all levels and from all areas of Fine Arts and Design.
Nonhuman Photography (FNAR265)
Our culture is increasingly made up of nonhuman actors. Facial recognition algorithms spend more hours "seeing" in a day than humans; drones equipped with visual sensors conduct our warfare; voice chat bots call businesses and make appointments for us. Meanwhile, humans conduct labor that we view as the work of bots: posting disinformation for political gain, or mass-producing children's YouTube videos for ad revenue. As objects begin to see and think, how can we understand the role of human agency and the possibilities (or lack thereof) for artistic expression in this space? What does the future of art look like when more photographs are taken as surveillance than by individuals, or when important cultural producers are nonhuman intelligences? In Nonhuman Photography, we will attempt to interrogate these ideas from an artist's perspective, approaching nonhuman agents and the various components that comprise them both as tools for studio work and as generative entities in their own right. Over the course of the semester we will read and discuss these issues extensively, while engaging in studio projects in a variety of media. While the course bears the title "photography", we will find that many of these tools will be non-photographic or para-photographic, and as a result many of our studio projects will be interdisciplinary. This course takes its name from Joanna Zylinska's Nonhuman Photography, parts of which we will examine over the course of the semester.
Big Pictures: Mural Arts (FNAR222)
The history and practice of the contemporary mural movement couples’ step by step analysis of the process of designing with painting a mural. In addition, students will learn to see mural art as a tool for social change. This course combines theory with practice. Students will design and paint a large outdoor mural in West Philadelphia in collaboration with Philadelphia high school students and community groups. The class is co-taught by Jane Golden, director of the Mural Arts Program in Philadelphia, and Shira Walinsky, a mural arts painter and founder of Southeast by Southeast project, a community center for Burmese refugees in South Philadelphia.
Critical Issues in Art (FNAR310)
Critical Issues aims to engage students in an ongoing and informed study of both historical and contemporary issues in a spirit of curiosity and critique. We will investigate how these concepts can clarify and complicate our creative practice and our understanding of the contemporary art world. This seminar will explore the shifts in artistic production, theory and criticism and topics will range from traditional investigations of aesthetics, Modernism, Post-Modernism and contemporary themes.
The Chinese Body (FNAR313)
This is a primarily an art and planning course that centers on the representation of the oriental, specifically the Chinese, in both its historical and present contexts. The localization of the Chinese throughout the Americas within Chinatown precincts was also subject to representational imaginings that were negotiated through the lens of civic planning. This course will study the often-fraught negotiation between representation and planning. The hyper-urbanization of China over the past several decades has radically altered traditional conceptions of public space in China. Mass migration from rural to urban areas has meant very high population densities in Chinese cities.
Across Forms (FNAR315)
What if a poem spoke from inside a photograph? What if a sculpture unfurled a political manifesto? What if a story wasn't just like a dance, but was a dance-or a key component of a video, drawing, performance, or painting? In this course, artists and writers will develop new works that integrate the forms, materials, and concerns of both art and writing. Many artists employ writing in their practices, but may not look at the texts they create as writing. And many writers have practices that go beyond the page and deserve attention as art. This course will employ critique and workshop, pedagogic methodologies from art and writing respectively, to support and interrogate cross- pollination between writing and art practices. Additionally, the course will examine a field of artists and writers who are working with intersections between art and writing to create dynamic new ways of seeing, reading, and experiencing.
Making Space & Public Art (FNAR330)
The French social philosopher Michel de Certeau upset the common understanding of the relationship between space and place by elevating space as practice place. By this, he meant that place is but a set of geo-physical particularities that has no dynamic meaning unless activated through social engagement so that space is produced. Spatial practice is a key concept in the modern understanding of the city as a society of abstract space, one in which the problem of human alienation is riven with the logic of spatial spectacularization. Public Art is often employed to address or mollify such urban problems through concepts of historical reconstruction or institutional critique, including possibly testing the limits of public expression. Historical markers play a somewhat different role by calling attention to lost or negative histories, albeit most often vetted through the language of tourism factoids. This course will examine the discursive issues at play in respect to art and markers, particularly for Philadelphia. Additionally, important public art works from around the world will be examined. The course will also include the occasional visit of several key works downtown in which the question of what can and cannot said will be pondered.
Monument Lab: Praxis Approaches to Socially-Engaged Public Art (FNAR336)
What makes an exceptional socially-engaged public artwork or project? For those who practice in the field, the question invites careful consideration of aesthetics, process, participation, staging, and interpretation. Across the better part of the last decade, this line of inquiry has fueled the work of Monument Lab, a public art and history studio based in Philadelphia. With deep roots and close ties to the Department of Fine Arts's Center for Public Art and Space, and methods interanimating contemporary art and pedagogy, Monument Lab works with artists, students, activists, municipal agencies, and cultural institutions on exploratory approaches to public engagement and collective memory. The Monument Lab course in Fine Arts explores the theoretical study and practical applications of public art. The course operates as a socially-engaged "civic studio" to engage case studies, debate key issues in the field, meet with artists and practitioners, conduct site and studio visits, and practice direct methods for producing individual and collaborative public projects. Focusing on the intersection of theory and practice, the praxis course highlights engaged methods piloted by Monument Lab in citywide exhibitions and special projects, especially to focus on themes and models for participation, public engagement, co-creation, curation, temporary installation, and socially engaged art-making. Each student will embark on a semester-long independent project, as well as participate in a group initiative centered on a current Monument Lab project in Philadelphia to gain experience in the field of socially-engaged public art.
Mystics & Visionaries (FNAR240)
As a pioneer of abstraction in the early 1900’s, Hilma Af Klint channeled a complex and highly original body of abstract symbolic work in secrecy. Using the upcoming Hilma Af Klint exhibition at the Guggenheim as a focus and departure point, this course will explore the ways in which artists have accessed alternative ways of seeing, knowing, and embodying non-visible realities as a source for their work. Accessing spiritual realms has been the subject of early European Modernisms investigations into Theosophy and Anthroposophy, as well as the primary intention of Tibetan Thangkas and Indian Tantra paintings. Postmodernism’s crisis of belief and skepticism generated a cultural situation wherein the subject of spirituality was marginalized, ridiculed as anti-intellectual, and in disgrace. The Hilma Af Klint exhibition and surge of interest in her work signifies a new moment, where questions about consciousness and the nature of reality are being addressed with renewed vigor. How do we create space in a technology driven world for experiences that attempt to align the viewer/maker with the contemplative realm, heightened states of consciousness, or transcendence? We will examine a wide field of artists in an attempt to understand the possibilities of the “spiritual” in art and contemporary culture. This seminar will engage in readings, lectures, discussions, projects, and field trips. This course is appropriate for both grad and undergrad, art majors and non-majors alike.
Art, Design, and Digital Culture (DSGN 264)
This course is an introduction to the fundamental perception, representation, aesthetics, and design that shape today's visual culture. It addresses the way artists and designers create images; design with analog and digital tools; communicate, exchange, and express meaning over broad range of media; and find their voices within the fabric of contemporary art, design, and visual culture. Emphasis is placed on building an extended form of visual literacy by studying and making images using a variety of representation techniques; learning to organize and structure two-dimensional and three-dimensional space, and designing with time-based and procedural media. Students learn to develop an individual style of idea-generation, experimentation, iteration, and critique as part of their creative and critical responses to visual culture.
Design 21 (DSGN306)
Last century, the digital revolution transformed every aspect of our lives. It shaped every design discipline and defined the ways we imagine and fabricate anything from images to everyday products to clothing, cars, buildings and megacities. Today, design is going through other technical and conceptual revolutions. We design with biotechnologies, fall in love in Virtual Reality with AI bots, rent our cognitive labor through cryptocurrencies. Our creative capabilities, on the other hand, are bounded by a polluted, over-crowded, and resource-constrained planet that is suffering major income and educational inequality. Design After the Digital interrogates the role of design for this century. The seminar surveys the conceptual and technical developments in the past decade to develop an interdisciplinary understanding of design, science and technology. We will study how new design and fabrication methods shape what eat, what we wear, how we form opinions and express ourselves. The goal will be to develop new literacies of design that will help us acclimate better to the new century as creative and critical citizens that can shape its products and values.
3-D Computer Modeling (DSGN235)
Students will develop a comprehensive knowledge of how virtual worlds are constructed using contemporary computer graphics technique with a fine arts perspective. The course will offer the opportunity to explore the construction, texturing, and rendering of forms, environments, and mechanisms while conforming to modeling specifications required for animation, real-time simulations or gaming environments, and rapid prototyping.
Open Book (DSGN238)
This course will focus on visual communication of information. It will address two methods of inquiry and the corresponding means of visual representation: the objective, well-structured research of facts and images, and the creative process of their subjective evaluation and restatement. Students will propose a topic based on their area of interest and engage in a focused, semester-long exploration, which they will present in the form of a designed and printed book.
The study and practice of typography spans the history of individual letterforms through the typesetting of full texts. It is a complete immersion into type as an integral part of visual communication. Typesetting conventions and variables including legibility, readability, texture, color and hierarchy will be stressed, as well as a form for organizing information and expressing visual ideas. Studio work will include collecting and analyzing type, designing an original typeface, researching type history and experimenting with typographic forms.
Visual Narrative (DSGN286)
Visual Narrative is an introduction to the practice of storytelling with images. From news and information to art, law, and science, visual storytelling is a critical aspect of creating and navigating contemporary culture. This course is situated at the intersection of design, art, and visual culture, focusing on relevant forms and topics including the photo essay, information design and visual explanation, the photographic sequence in contemporary art, scenario design and concept visualization.
Book & Publication Design (DSGN245)
Book and Publication Design will focus on the theory and professional practice of designing multi-page publications. Students will analyze formal structures of different types of books-literature and poetry, fiction and non-fiction compilations, illustrated volumes such as art catalogues, monographs and textbooks, and serial editions-discussing both traditional and experimental approaches. The format of the course will be split between theoretical and historical evaluations of book formats by drawing on the Van Pelt Rare Book Collection-and studio time where students will design books with attention to the format's conceptual relationship to the material at hand with a focus on typography and page layout, as well as on understanding production methods of printing and binding. In addition to the conventions of page layout students will examine paratextual elements (title page, practices of pagination and other internal structuring, content lists and indexes, colophons, notes and marginalia, end-leaves, binding, etc.).
Digital Figure Modeling (DSGN236)
This course introduces methods of modeling, texturing, and rendering human and animal figures. Students will study anatomical bone and muscle structures, and then employ this knowledge as they develop polygonal models for real-time 3D simulations or gaming environments, high-resolution renderings, and rapid prototyping.
Environmental Animation (DSGN247)
This studio-based course examines the disciplinary spaces of landscape, art, and architecture through the medium of 3D animation and storytelling. We immerse ourselves in environments that may be as small as a cell or as large as a planet. From the refiguring of images, models, graphic design, or video to visualization or coding the genesis of whole environments, this course will allow for a variety of entry point for students of different disciplines and skill levels. Projects will range in scope from animated GIFs to animated shorts.
Graphic Design Practicum (DSGN270)
Design Practicum is an intermediate studio that provides real-world experience for students interested in collaborating with clients, fabricators, other designers, etc. Students are involved in all aspects of significant design projects, completing research and preliminary design from initial concepts through visualization and design development, to a comprehensive design proposal and presentation. Students work in collaboration with clients and colleagues to reach proposals that are mutually successful.
Advanced 3D Modeling (DSGN366)
Advanced 3-D Modeling will give students the opportunity to refine skills in modeling, texturing, lighting and rendering with an emphasis on the evolution of ideas through constant revision based on class critique. Students will use a variety of industry standard software packages, including, but not limited to Maya and Mudbox to compose complex environments. Projects are designed to give students the opportunity to work with original content within a simulated production environment.
Adv Graphic Des & Typog (DSGN370)
This advanced studio re-focuses design as a means for system change and cultural progress. It explores how individual designers can balance the tension between their idiosyncratic creations and the larger audiences that receive their designs. The course asks students to re-examine the role of the designer and challenges them to question and propose new modes of practice—as maker, entrepreneur, curator, activist and collaborator—across disciplines and in the spaces between art and design. It challenges designers to go beyond the creation of ‘closed-loop’ design objects to find new frameworks for dialogue. The assigned design and writing projects address a variety of criteria and environments. The final work is an independent research project.
Design: Integrative Studios
Cultures of Making (DSGN317)
Cultures of Making (and Unmaking) is studio/seminar hybrid investigates the designers’ responsibilities towards the environment and the climate crisis. The students work with contemporary technologies—sensors, indicators, sequencers, mapping devices— to learn about different ways to sense, image, and construct knowledge about the physical world around us. The course is divided between different strategies of analysis and design work that show how to act towards pollution, biodiversity loss, and the climate change on individual, communal, and planetary scales. The coursework will involve field trips, design workshops, and interaction with domain experts in environmental sensing and visualization.
Biological Design (DSGN268)
This course is a research-based design studio that introduces new materials, fabrication, and prototyping techniques to develop a series of design proposals in response to the theme: Biological Design. The studio introduces life sciences and biotechnologies to designers, artists, and non-specialists to develop creative and critical propositions that address the social, cultural, and environmental needs of the 21st century.
Graphic Design with Creative Technologies (DSGN266)
The aim of this course is to introduce student's to creative ways to use color, typography, and layout across new materials and media, ranging from print to physical objects. Students will explore visual design through a set of assignments and projects that are geared towards exploring the role of design in visual arts, interaction design, media design and architecture. The course introduces a number of design concepts such as content organization, navigation, interaction and data-driven design and show ways to develop new design metaphors, presentation techniques, and imagery using old and new technologies. course is structured as a combination of lectures and hands on workshops where students will have the chance to work both individually and collaboratively to realize their projects.
Functions for Form and Material (DSGN328)
This studio course will introduce methods of material selection and fabrication with the goal of developing evocative and effective designs. We will learn parametric modeling techniques that allow visualization to begin before all of the requirements of a design are known. We will implement techniques that allow us to test and optimize forms to be stronger, lighter, or to fail or perform more predictably. The class will work to identify materials with properties that introduce new structural or conceptual possibilities for our designs. For each project, we will use a broad range of fabrication techniques for metals, natural and synthetic materials. The goal of the course is to develop a creative approach towards learning to work with unfamiliar tools and materials.
Information Design and Visualization (DSGN337)
Information Design and Visualization is an introductory course that explores the structures of information (text, numbers, images, sounds, video, etc.) and presents strategies for designing effective visual communication appropriate for various users and audiences. The course seeks to articulate a vocabulary of information visualization and find new design forms for an increasingly complex culture.
Art of the Web (DSGN 234)
Art of the Web: Interactive concepts for art and design is a first step in learning how to create, analyze and discuss interactive content, as a visual creator. It is an exploration of the culture of the internet, the ideas behind its quirks, the dreams and freedoms it encapsulates, and the creative power it gives to us. Students will be assigned projects that will challenge their current understanding of the web, and the ways it shapes human connectivity and interaction. Upon completion of this course, students will possess a working knowledge how to organize and design websites and learn to critique web-content including navigation, UX design and information architecture. The course will require analytical and conceptual skills and foster creative thinking.
Designing for Mobile, Web and Public Media (DSGN378)
This course introduces advanced topics related to contemporary media technologies, ranging from social media to mobile phones applications and urban interfaces. Students learn how to use new methods from interaction design, service design, and social media and work towards prototyping their ideas using new platforms and media. The class will cover a range of topics such as such as online-gaming, viral communication, interface culture, networked environments, internet of things and discuss their artistic, social, and cultural implications to the public domain.
Design Future(s) (DSGN380)
Design Future(s) is a production-oriented studio which explores the relationship between critical design and emerging technologies. Students learn how to work with sensing, machine learning, robotics, and biofabrication to explore what it means to design in response to the social, cultural, and environmental realities of our times. The course is organized through hands-on workshops, lectures, design and critique sessions to develop both technical skills and learn about new design methodologies. Every semester, the studio is organized around a specific theme (i.e., future of body and labor, future of identity, future of interfaces) and work towards developing a discursive and multi-disciplinary understanding of “future” that is informed by methodologies outside the traditional Western design canon
Design: History & Theory Seminars
Contemporary Theories in Design (DSGN300)
This seminar explores a range of theories, concepts, and thought patterns that shape different disciplines of design. From critical science studies to object-orient ontology and speculative design, it discusses how theoretical frameworks drive innovation, critique, and user experience.
Language of Design (DSGN343)
The course will explore the changing relationship during the modern era between design (structure, model, plan of a work of art) and language (metaphor for a system of communication; speech, writing, literature). Our readings and visual presentations will focus on topics in the decorative arts, painting, architecture, typography and visual communication. We will focus on primary sources in order to situate our inquiry in a larger historical context. The discussion will center on claims about the inherent meaning of form, discuss different roles for design -as an ideological statement, as an agent of social change, and as an idiosyncratic expression. Topics will also include the search for a universal visual language, attempts at bridging the perceived gap between spoken and written language, and the impact of visual form on the meaning of literary texts (particularly when the author has been involved in the publication process). Students can suggest additional topics related to their field of study.
Creative Research (DSGN388)
This seminar explores what it means to do research in creative and critical practices. Students learn about different research methods from design, engineering, humanities and sciences; utilize them for developing and evaluating their individual creative work as cultural producers. This is an interdisciplinary course that encourages students to observe, measure, analyze, test, study, experiment, diagram, prototype, speculate, generate and criticize; apply multiple modes of inquiry; be conceptual, analytical, propositional and critical at the same time to develop their work from different perspectives.