Course Syllabus

Course Information ATEC 6331.001: Aesthetics of Interactive Arts Thursday 4.00-6.45 pm

Professor Contact Information Dr. Mihai Nadin ATEC Building, Office 1.618 (972) 883-2832 nadin@utdallas.edu Office Hours: Mondays 2:00 - 4:00 pm or by appointment.

Course Pre-requisites, Co-requisites, and/or Other Restrictions This is a required graduate class. If an undergraduate student wishes to take it, ATEC approval is required.

Course Description Aesthetics is present in everything we do. It is the underlying “logic of senses,” and as such it is expressed in the ways in which we perceive the world. Students in this class will practice aesthetics as it relates to their educational focus. The outcome of this class is expressed in: a) Knowledge of aesthetics as it shaped, and continues to shape, our own activity b) Aesthetic skills expressed in aesthetic value judgments and aesthetic innovation in the age of interactive media and computational design. The class will engage students in reading and reporting on foundational texts, in particular, informational aesthetics. Students will also explore the aesthetics of innovation and the aesthetic experiment. Guest lecturers will cover the “hot” topics of current developments (interactivity, immersion, virtuality, etc.). New media is of particular interest to our explorations. You are asked to practice aesthetics. Students will be encouraged to post class-work on the website conceived for this class. Given the many choices open to students in ATEC, the class will also serve as an open forum for defining the students’ focus in the program.

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Student Learning Objectives/Outcomes The outcome of this graduate class can be compared to the outcome of a class in mathematics for future scientists and engineers. Indeed, they will not become mathematicians, but should be able to apply the powerful means of mathematics to the problems they will resolve as scientists or engineers. In our class, aesthetics is seen as the “mathematics” art and design, in particular, of interactive arts. More precisely, it provides a foundation for understanding the characteristics of interactive arts, for experimenting, for advancing innovation. Concretely, the students will explore: a) Knowledge of aesthetics, as it shaped, and it continues to shape, human activity in general, and in particular the emerging interactive forms of aesthetic expression b) Aesthetic skills, expressed in aesthetic value judgments and aesthetic innovation in the age of interactive media and computational design. c) Aesthetic judgment as an expression of aesthetic knowledge-based evaluation.

Required Textbooks and Materials • Mihai Nadin, The Civilization of Illiteracy, Book IV, Chapter 1 (Language and the Visual), Chapter 8 (Art(ifacts) and Aesthetic Processes), Chapter 10 (The Sense of Design), and Book V, Chapter 1 (The Interactive Future: Individual, community and Society in the Age of the Web). Additionally: The chapters “Language and the Visual” (pp. 321-352); “Science and Philosophy” (especially pp. 511-524); “The Sense of Design” (pp. 590-611); and “A Sense of the Future” (pp. 729-767 will be discussed in class. This book is available in its entirety on the Web. A limited number of copies will be offered for sale at the University Bookstore, at a discounted price for students. Mihai Nadin, Anticipation—The End Is Where We Start From. Basel: Muller Verlag, 2003. It will be offered for sale in the University Bookstore at a discounted price for students. Mercedes Vilanova and Frederic Chorda, A Mind at Work, Synchron Publishers, 2003, pp. 7-32 and 167-197. The book will be offered for sale at the University Bookstore at a discounted price for students. Mihai Nadin, Science and Beauty: Aesthetic structuring of Knowledge, Leonardo, 24/1, 1991. The article will be made available to students. Mihai Nadin, Emergent Aesthetics. Aesthetic Issues in Computer Arts., Leonardo, Special Issue: Computer Art in context, august 1989. The article will be made available to students.

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Malcolm Gladwell, The formula. What if you built a machine to predict hit movies? In The New Yorker, 10/16, 2006. The article will be made available to students. It is also posted on the website of The New Yorker. Gaut, Berys Nigel and Lopes, Dominic, The Routledge companion to aesthetics [electronic resource], NetLibrary, 2005. Available as eBook at the McDermott Library of UTD. computer art. To be provided on line or print-out.

Suggested Course Materials Storage (regardless of the procedure): Maintain a digital library of examples (painting, sculpture, music, literature, computer art, interactive works, etc.) to be shared in class. Respect strictly academic and intellectual property procedures when quoting a work or when presenting it as an example.

Assignments & Academic Calendar Week 1: August 27th. Guest lecture: Aesthetics of music. Prof. Frank Dufour Do NOT miss the opportunity. It is high quality content! Assignment 1: Define your own aesthetics. Create an interactive presentation of your aesthetics (Flash, Website, PowerPoint, animation—It’s up to you). Post your presentation on the class Website. Due September 3rd Reading: chapter on history of aesthetics in Gaut, Berys Nigel and Lopes, Dominic, The Routledge companion to aesthetics [electronic resource], NetLibrary, 2005. Available as eBook at the McDermott Library of UTD. Week 2: September 3: Class presentation of first assignment Aesthetics in the age of computation Assignment 2: Write a report on the assigned reading. Try to define what has changed since 1989. Due September 10 Reading: Mihai Nadin, Emergent Aesthetics. Aesthetic Issues in Computer Arts, Leonardo, Special Issue: Computer Art in Context, August 1989. September 10 Is aesthetics deterministic? Assignment 3: Can you imagine a machine that will generate aesthetic artifacts? Based upon the purpose you define for your aesthetic machine, prepare a presentation to the class of how such a machine will work and what kind of artifacts it will eventually produce. You can use digital means (such as modeling, software, animation, interactive diagrams), or you can use traditional means (clay, wood, or paper models). The project and your current competence dictate

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the medium you will use; but you will have to justify your choice of medium and explain how the machine you conceived works. Within 2 weeks, “make” an aesthetic machine: a program, a device, or an illustration. Show the input variables, the machine state, the output. Make a professional presentation of your machine. Presentation in class: October 1 Reading: Malcolm Gladwell, The formula. What if you built a machine to predict hit movies? In The New Yorker, 10/16, 2006. Week 4 september 17 Information aesthetics: Foundation and Principles Assignment 4: What is information aesthetics? How can it guide you in your work? Due February 19 Reading: Arie Altena, Lucas van der Velden, Max Bense, Georg Nees, Frieder Nake (to be provided) september 24 Defining your semester project: Aesthetics at work applied to your own interactive arts focus. How do you define your academic goals? How will your graduate education contribute to your long term professional goals? What role will aesthetics play? Start defining this major project in class. October 1 Presentation of your aesthetic machine. Each student will have 15 minutes for the presentation. Each assignment will be graded by the class. October 8 Visit the Nasher Sculpture Center. Your visit will be the basis of our assignment. Assignment 5: Define the aesthetic characteristics of one of the exhibited works. Due: October 29 October 15 First class presentation of final project proposal (what you intend to do). Define the subject, what the final product will be, evaluation criteria. October 22 Second class presentation of final project. In the second part of the class, your YouTube project will be defined (Surprise!). October 29 Present Assignment 5 Class test. A concrete example of interactive arts, to be chosen from the variety of directions pursued by the students in class, will give you a chance to apply the knowledge acquired so far. You can use any medium for applying your aesthetic knowledge. November 5 How do we evaluate the aesthetics of interactive arts? As a future professional, you have to be aware of the evaluation process. You have to develop methods that will allow you to evaluate the aesthetic quality of your work and the work of those you will interact with.

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November 12 Aesthetics in context. The difference between American, German, Japanese, etc. is the result not only of cultural differences, but also of a context: differences in the practical experience. Assignment: Prepare examples characteristic of your own region and/or country. Due: November 19 Reading: “The Sense of Design” (pp. 590-611); and “A Sense of the Future” (pp. 729-767) in The Civilization of Illiteracy. November 19th Presentation of examples characteristic of your own region and/or country. November 26--Thanksgiving December 3rd FINAL Project Presentation and posting on the Web. Continued presentation of YouTube projects

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Grading Policy During the Semester, reading, independent research, acquisition of software skills and class participation – in the form of short presentations and discussions – will be evaluated. The final project, supposed to be the expression of your semester-long research and independent work – will make up 50% of your grade. The remaining 50% will be accumulated through class attendance, class participation, and weekly assignments. The following is a breakdown of the grades: Attendance 10% Class Participation 25% Individual Assignments 15% Final Project & Presentation 50%

Course & Instructor Policies No make-up exams, no late work, no extra-credit. All work must be presented in on time to the class. Class attendance is very important. Make sure you are on time and ready to learn!

Field Trip Policies Some assignments require that you visit some Dallas locations on your own Please take such visits seriously since they will serve as a basis for your work.

Student Conduct & Discipline

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The University of Texas System and The University of Texas at Dallas have rules and regulations for the orderly and efficient conduct of their business. It is the responsibility of each student and each student organization to be knowledgeable about the rules and regulations which govern student conduct and activities. General information on student conduct and discipline is contained in the UTD publication, A to Z Guide, which is provided to all registered students each academic year. The University of Texas at Dallas administers student discipline within the procedures of recognized and established due process. Procedures are defined and described in the Rules and Regulations, Board of Regents, The University of Texas System, Part 1, Chapter VI, Section 3, and in Title V, Rules on Student Services and Activities of the university’s Handbook of Operating Procedures. Copies of these rules and regulations are available to students in the Office of the Dean of Students, where staff members are available to assist students in interpreting the rules and regulations (SU 1.602, 972/883-6391). A student at the university neither loses the rights nor escapes the responsibilities of citizenship. He or she is expected to obey federal, state, and local laws as well as the Regents’ Rules, university regulations, and administrative rules. Students are subject to discipline for violating the standards of conduct whether such conduct takes place on or off campus, or whether civil or criminal penalties are also imposed for such conduct.

Academic Integrity
The faculty expects from its students a high level of responsibility and academic honesty. Because the value of an academic degree depends upon the absolute integrity of the work done by the student for that degree, it is imperative that a student demonstrate a high standard of individual honor in his or her scholastic work. Scholastic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, statements, acts or omissions related to applications for enrollment or the award of a degree, and/or the submission as one’s own work or material that is not one’s own. As a general rule, scholastic dishonesty involves one of the following acts: cheating, plagiarism, collusion and/or falsifying academic records. Students suspected of academic dishonesty are subject to disciplinary proceedings.

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