Course Syllabus

Course Information ATEC 6331.001: Aesthetics of Interactive Arts Tuesday 4.00-6.45 pm, Conference Room

Professor Contact Information Dr. Mihai Nadin ATEC Building, Office 1.618 (972) 883-2832 Office Hours: 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. It also guides in the making of new aesthetic entities (in particular interactive arts, a very fast expanding field of aesthetic relevance). 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, human activity b) Aesthetic skills expressed in aesthetic value judgments and aesthetic innovation in the age of interactive media and computational design c.) Aesthetic competence corresponding to the fast dynamics of digital expression 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 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, the students in the class, are asked to practice aesthetics. Students are 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 solve as scientists or engineers. Mathematics is foundational for them; aesthetics is foundational for you, whether you will work in emerging media, games, design, digital arts. In our class, aesthetics is seen as the ―mathematics‖ of art and design. More precisely, it provides a foundation for understanding the characteristics of interactive arts, for experimenting, for advancing innovation. For being creative. Concretely, 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 several Websites. A limited number of copies will be available at the University Bookstore, at a discounted price for students. The UTD library owns also the book. Mihai Nadin, Anticipation—The End Is Where We Start From. Basel: Muller Verlag, 2003. It will be made available in the University Bookstore at a discounted price for students. The UTD library owns the book. Mercedes Vilanova and Frederic Chorda, A Mind at Work, Synchron Publishers, 2003, pp. 7-32 and 167-197. The book is available in the UTD library. 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. 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 online or print-out.
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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. Strictly adhere to academic and intellectual property procedures when quoting a work or when presenting it as an example. Do not present the same work in two different classes.

Assignments & Academic Calendar Week 1, Tuesday, August 24th: Aggregate class profile – a short anonymous test Introduction to Aesthetics Assignment 1: Read Art(ifacts) and Aesthetic Processes in The Civilization of Illiteracy (pp. 534-571, Book IV, chapter 8). Write a 1-page synthesis on ―What I understood from what I read?‖ To this one page add 5 examples that illustrate the ideas in this chapter. Assignment due: Tuesday, August 31st

Assignment 2: Join Scratch-- Using Scratch, create within the next 4 weeks (by September 21st) an aesthetic artifact that best exemplifies your focus (game, interactive application, animation, music, story, art, etc.). Once you post it on Scratch (read all instructions carefully!), inform the class of the address where we can all retrieve it. You will present your Scratch project in class—5 minute limit for your presentation. Scratch is a simple programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art -- and share your creations on the Web. It is for young people (children, but also young adults). As young people create and share Scratch projects, they learn mathematical and computational ideas, while also being stimulated to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively. When people think about learning and education, they often think about one person transmitting information to another, or to a class. Increasingly, educators are recognizing that the one-to-many model, also known as ―transmission approach‖ doesn’t work very well. This idea is presented in The Civilization of Illiteracy. Research has confirmed that we learn best not when we are passively receiving information, but when we are actively engaged in exploring, experimenting, and expressing ourselves (sometimes known as the 3 Xs). More and more schools are focusing on learning-by-doing, engaging students in handson activities. In this class, we want to go a step further. Our goal is to practice a new form of learning: students learn to design, create, and invent things with aesthetics as their foundation. It’s not just learning-by-doing; it’s learning-bydesigning with aesthetic awareness.
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Assignment due: Tuesday, September 21st

Week 2, Tuesday, August 31st: Music and art aesthetics. Is there such a thing as perfect taste in music? The question can be asked also in respect to poetry, theater, film, dance, games, etc. How do we define taste? Read: Assignment 3: Choose your own area of aesthetic competence. Document good taste vs. bad taste through 5 examples. To document means: 1. Select examples; 2. Provide a contrasting presentation; 3. Explain in your own words why some artifacts qualify as an expression of good taste, and others of bad taste. Assignment due: Tuesday, September 14th

Week 3, Tuesday, September 7th: Aesthetics of art—the 21st Century In preparation for this class, visit the Nasher Sculpture Center. Choose one work, and document your aesthetic criteria (why you chose it?). Each student will show in class his or her choice and will explain selection criteria in the class discussion.

Week 4, Tuesday, September 14th: The aesthetics of slicing and splicing. Read The Civilization of Illiteracy (pp. 193-199, in particular the Sampling section). The class will focus on This is an online music video project mixed from samples of YouTube videos. Time magazine called it one of the 50 best inventions of 2009. Students will discuss in class the various aspects of originality in a context of reciprocal influence and new understandings of intellectual property. After viewing ThruYOU, open source advocate Lawrence Lessig praised the project as a pioneer of a new, less regulated form of media, saying: "If you come to the Net armed with the idea that the old system of copyright is going to work just fine here, this more than anything is going to get you to recognize: you need some new ideas…‖ . Week 5, Tuesday, September 21st: Aesthetics in the age of computation Class presentation of Second Assignment. Each student has 5 minutes. We begin developing the story. Check out the following sites: These are YouTube assignments on the subject of anticipation and inspiration; anticipation and creativity. Watch them in order to get an idea of the purpose of

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our new video. Yes, we will work together to prepare a video that will define your YouTube assignment for the semester. Assignment 4: Read ―Language and the Visual‖ in The Civilization of Illiteracy, pp. 321-345 (Book IV, Chapter 1). Write a 1-page synthesis on: ―What did you understand from what you read?‖ To this 1 page add 5 examples that illustrate the ideas in this chapter. Assignment due: October 12th Week 6, Tuesday, September 28th: Anticipation and aesthetics. To create means to make possible something that did not exist before. This is called originality. The larger class assignment for this semester is Anticipation and Originality. The class will discuss the foundations for understanding originality as the most important aesthetic characteristic of your future activity. Each student will work on a creative video to document the various aspects of originality. In this class we shall define the various tasks you will have to undertake in producing your final project: - Directin - Producing - Camera - Video-editing - Music - Scriptwriting - Animation - Graphic design Assignment 5: Script and production plan for your video. Read Nadin, Anticipation – The end is where we start from. Deadline for Assignment 5: October 26th. Each student meets with the professor on an individual basis (Schedule to accommodate individual time limitations) Deadline for finished video: November 30th. Last class. No extensions. Week 7, Tuesday, October 5th: Is aesthetics deterministic? Assignment 6: 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 would work and what kind of artifacts it would 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 the medium you will use. However, you will have to justify your choice of medium and explain how the machine you conceived works. Within 4 weeks (by November 2nd), ―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: November 2nd Reading: Malcolm Gladwell, ―The formula. What if you built a machine to predict hit movies?‖ In The New Yorker, 10/16, 2006. Continue work on the script and prepare production of the video. .

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Week 8, Tuesday, October 12th: Aesthetics of games, virtual reality, visualization. Class presentation of video. Assignment 4 due! Week 9, Tuesday, October 19th: How do we evaluate the aesthetics of interactive arts? Week 10, Tuesday, October 26th: Class presentation of scripts/storyline for your video on anticipation and originality. Open forum on questions of interest to the class pertinent to the aesthetics of interactive arts. For next class: submit to 4 different images. This is an online system that rates images by aesthetic quality. In parallel have your images rated by your colleagues, family members, friends. Present your findings in the next class. Each student has 7 minutes for the presentation. Week 11, Tuesday, November 2nd: 1. Present your findings regarding the rating of images a) Define the subject—how do they do it? What is the intention? How good are they? a) Define the difference between the performance of the website and that of living subjects b) Define criteria for evaluation (NB: criteria is plural; make sure you have more than one criterion). 2. Present your aesthetic machine. Week 12, Tuesday, November 9th: Information aesthetics Assignment 7: Read ―Science and Beauty‖ in Mind at Work, pp. 177-188. Write a 1-page summary of the ideas. Present your own examples of how the ideas from the text would have to be formulated in OUR days. Assignment due: November 16th. Week 13, Tuesday, November 16th: Aesthetics in context. Assignment 8: Examples characteristic of the aesthetics of your own region or country of origin. How does the aesthetics of our environment shape our perception? Present assignment in class of November 23rd. Week 14, Tuesday, November 23rd: Your aesthetic context—assignment presentation. What do we learn from the aesthetics of other cultures?

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Week 15, Tuesday, November 30th: Class presentation of Anticipation and Originality video. By this day, your videos have to be posted on YouTube! Evaluate your own project.

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 30% Final Project & Presentation 35%

Course & Instructor Policies 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
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).
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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. Plagiarism, especially from the web, from portions of papers for other classes, and from any other source is unacceptable and will be dealt with under the university’s policy on plagiarism (see general catalog for details). This course will use the resources of, which searches the web for possible plagiarism and is over 90% effective.

Email Use
The University of Texas at Dallas recognizes the value and efficiency of communication between faculty/staff and students through electronic mail. At the same time, email raises some issues concerning security and the identity of each individual in an email exchange. The university encourages all official student email correspondence be sent only to a student’s U.T. Dallas email address and that faculty and staff consider email from students official only if it originates from a UTD student account. This allows the university to maintain a high degree of confidence in the identity of all individual corresponding and the security of the transmitted information. UTD furnishes each student with a free email account that is to be used in all communication with university personnel. The Department of Information Resources at U.T. Dallas provides a method for students to have their U.T. Dallas mail forwarded to other accounts.

Withdrawal from Class
The administration of this institution has set deadlines for withdrawal of any college-level courses. These dates and times are published in that semester's course catalog. Administration procedures must be followed. It is the student's responsibility to handle withdrawal requirements from any class. In other words, I cannot drop or withdraw any student. You must do the proper paperwork to ensure that you will not receive a final grade of "F" in a course if you choose not to attend the class once you are enrolled.

Student Grievance Procedures
Procedures for student grievances are found in Title V, Rules on Student Services and Activities, of the university’s Handbook of Operating Procedures. In attempting to resolve any student grievance regarding grades, evaluations, or other fulfillments of academic responsibility, it is the obligation of the student first to make a serious effort to resolve the matter with the instructor, supervisor, administrator, or committee with whom the grievance originates (hereafter called ―the respondent‖). Individual faculty members retain primary responsibility for assigning grades and evaluations. If the matter cannot be resolved at
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that level, the grievance must be submitted in writing to the respondent with a copy of the respondent’s School Dean. If the matter is not resolved by the written response provided by the respondent, the student may submit a written appeal to the School Dean. If the grievance is not resolved by the School Dean’s decision, the student may make a written appeal to the Dean of Graduate or Undergraduate Education, and the deal will appoint and convene an Academic Appeals Panel. The decision of the Academic Appeals Panel is final. The results of the academic appeals process will be distributed to all involved parties. 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.

Incomplete Grade Policy
As per university policy, incomplete grades will be granted only for work unavoidably missed at the semester’s end and only if 70% of the course work has been completed. An incomplete grade must be resolved within eight (8) weeks from the first day of the subsequent long semester. If the required work to complete the course and to remove the incomplete grade is not submitted by the specified deadline, the incomplete grade is changed automatically to a grade of F.

Disability Services
The goal of Disability Services is to provide students with disabilities educational opportunities equal to those of their non-disabled peers. Disability Services is located in room 1.610 in the Student Union. Office hours are Monday and Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday, 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; and Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The contact information for the Office of Disability Services is: The University of Texas at Dallas, SU 22 PO Box 830688 Richardson, Texas 75083-0688 (972) 883-2098 (voice or TTY) Essentially, the law requires that colleges and universities make those reasonable adjustments necessary to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability. For example, it may be necessary to remove classroom prohibitions against tape recorders or animals (in the case of dog guides) for students who are blind. Occasionally an assignment requirement may be substituted (for example, a research paper versus an oral presentation for a student who is hearing impaired). Classes enrolled students with mobility impairments may have to be rescheduled in accessible facilities. The college or university may need to provide special services such as registration, note-taking, or mobility assistance. It is the student’s responsibility to notify his or her professors of the need for such an accommodation. Disability Services provides students with letters to present to faculty members to verify that the student has a disability and needs accommodations. Individuals requiring special accommodation should contact the professor after class or during office hours.

Religious Holy Days
The University of Texas at Dallas will excuse a student from class or other required activities for the travel to and observance of a religious holy day for a religion whose places of worship are exempt from property tax under Section 11.20, Tax Code, Texas Code Annotated. The student is encouraged to notify the instructor or activity sponsor as soon as possible regarding the absence, preferably in advance of the assignment. The student, so excused, will be allowed to take the exam or complete the assignment within a reasonable time after the absence: a period equal to the length of the absence, up to a maximum of one week. A student who notifies the
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instructor and completes any missed exam or assignment may not be penalized for the absence. A student who fails to complete the exam or assignment within the prescribed period may receive a failing grade for that exam or assignment. If a student or an instructor disagrees about the nature of the absence [i.e., for the purpose of observing a religious holy day] or if there is similar disagreement about whether the student has been given a reasonable time to complete any missed assignments or examinations, either the student or the instructor may request a ruling from the chief executive officer of the institution, or his or her designee. The chief executive officer or designee must take into account the legislative intent of TEC 51.911(b), and the student and instructor will abide by the decision of the chief executive officer or designee.

Off-Campus Instruction and Course Activities
Off-campus, out-of-state, and foreign instruction and activities are subject to state law and University policies and procedures regarding travel and risk-related activities. Information regarding these rules and regulations may be found at the website address given below. Additional information is available from the office of the school dean. ( Affairs/Travel_Risk_Activities.htm)

These descriptions and timelines are subject to change as the class requires.

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