[DIAP] MFA in Digital and Interdisciplinary Art Practice

B2210 Working Critique I, Fall 2017

Critique Class Syllabus

B2210 Working Critique I; Wednesday, 2-4:50, room SH408
This digital and interdisciplinary studio course for MFA students focuses on weekly individual and group critiques of student work. In addition to research, discussion, and art practice in digital and new media, first year students will propose and develop a thesis project under the advisement of a faculty member.
3 hours per week | 3 credits

download syllabus pdf

Questions for Critique Class: developing a methodology and language for critique of media art

What is critique and the function of critique in individual art practice and art education?

Does critique in new or digital media differ from critique practice in conventional/traditional art?

What role should critique play in your art practice? How do you become your own critic?

How do you approach the critique of your own work and the work of others?

What are the some different methodologies for the practice of critique? What vocabulary is intrinsic to the critique process?

Course Learning Objectives

The primary objectives of Working Critique I is the development of a methodology and language of critique that will be applied to the conceptualization and development of the students' First Year Project and to the work on other current projects. Course learning outcomes include:

  • Students will become adept at writing and refining proposal(s) for a project, series or body of work.
  • Student will conceptualize and begin development of a proposed First Year Project that reflects the students’ research, creative exploration and analysis and incorporates feedback from instructors, visiting artists and peers.
  • Students will become familiar with the methodologies and language of critical analysis and apply this knowledge to their own work and the work of peers in critiques, discussions and exhibition visits. Students will convey their critical responses to readings or other course activities orally and in writing.
  • Students will evaluate and discuss the role of digital and new media, photography and contemporary art production as it pertains to contemporary art and professional art practice

  • Students will present each week unless otherwise directed, and should provide a brief written (300 word) critical context for their presentation.
  • Students are expected to choose appropriate media and technologies for their projects, preparing to work either individually or collaboratively, as the project demands.
  • Students will also provide a brief (300 word) critical analysis or comment on the assigned text, posted to the class blog.
  • During critique everyone is expected to participate, speak constructively and analytically about the work being critiqued and contribute to the formation of a vibrant intellectual community that supports the exchange of ideas.
  • At the end of the semester each student will submit a project portfolio, including documentation of process and source material as well as project prototypes in a blog or other format. A finalized proposal and statement about the work generated over the semester must be included with the portfolio.
  • The Critique Class Blog will be used for posting feedback critiques and introductory texts/critical context for readings, ongoing projects and exhibition visits. Students must post by midnight Tuesday for the Wednesday class.
  • Students will create a dedicated individual blog or other online repository to archive their proposals, other texts and documentation of prototypes and projects for the final review, including relevant research, visual or written documentation, or other supplemental material.
  • Class time will focus on critique of proposed First Year Projects, and or other work in progress, and will also include readings & discussion, group and individual critiques of other ongoing work, and may also include feedback from visiting artists, studio visits, and field trips to exhibitions.
  • A list of final project requirements will be distributed by mid-semester.

Grading Policy
  • Readings, responses, and class participation: 30%
  • Work in Progress Critiques: 30%
  • Final Portfolio: 40%

Everyone presents weekly. Weekly assignments include a written short critical context for the project iteration plus a short written response to the weekly reading

Attendance policy: one absence will result in a grade reduction.

If a student skips a required presentation, there will be a grade reduction.

Academic Integrity Policy

The CCNY policy on academic integrity will be followed in this course. The document can be found through the CCNY website by clicking on “Current Students” then “Academic Services” then “Policy on Academic Integrity.” All students must read the details regarding plagiarism and cheating in order to be familiar with the rules of the college. Cases where academic integrity is compromised will be prosecuted according to these rules. In addition, the Policy of Academic Integrity can be found in the Graduate Bulletin.

Statement on Academic IntegrityThe CUNY Policy on Plagiarism:

Plagiarism is the act of presenting another person’s ideas, research or writings as your own. The following are some examples of plagiarism, but by no means is it an exhaustive list:

  1. Copying another person’s actual words without the use of quotation marks and footnotes attributing the words to their source.
  2. Presenting another person’s ideas or theories in your own words without acknowledging the source.
  3. Using information that is not common knowledge without acknowledging the source.
  4. Failing to acknowledge collaborators on homework and laboratory assignments.
  5. Internet plagiarism includes submitting downloaded term papers or parts of term papers, paraphrasing or copying information from the internet without citing the source, and “cutting and pasting” from various sources without proper attribution. The City College Faculty Senate has approved a procedure for addressing violations of academic integrity.

Assigned Readings

readings marked DB are archived on the class DropBox.

assigned readings will be provided in pdf, handouts or in online citation

Recommended Reading

Williams, Gilda. How to Write about Contemporary Art (Thames & Hudson, London, 2014)

Buster, Kendall and Crawford, Paula. The Critique Handbook (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2006)

Sturken, Marita and Cartwright, Lisa. Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture (New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 2009)

Wardrip-Fruin, Noah and Montfort, Nick. New Media Reader (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2003)

Beryl Graham and Sarah Cook, Rethinking Curating: Art after New Media (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2010)

Oliver Grau, Imagery in the 21st Century (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2010)

Mitchell, W.T., what do pictures want? the lives and loves of images, (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2010)

Online readings

Phrase Generator the pixmaven instant art phrase generator

Post-medium Critique Blog post-medium critique

Imagery In The 21st Century, Oliver Grau read online at OPEN ISBN

Criticism Hurts Mousse Magazine Issue #10

Benjamin, Walter The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction and summary of Benjamin's work

http://nplusonemag.com/the-stupidity-of-computers N+1 magazine, The Stupidity of Computers

Other Reading


Whitechapel Documents of Contemporary Art, various titles (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2010)

Weintraub, Linda In the Making: Creative Options for Contemporary Art. D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers, Inc. 2003. The DAP CATALOG @ artbook.com

Harrison, Charles and Wood, Paul, eds., Art in Theory, 1900-2000, An Anthology of Changing Ideas , Blackwell Publishing, UK, 2003.

Periodicals [very partial list]

Mousse Magazine Italian, English translation

Media-N Journal[New Media Caucus]


Online citations

Paul, Christiane, New Media and Institutional critique: networks vs. institutionsdownload pdf

McLuhan, Marshall, Media Cold and Hot, and The Phonograph: The Toy That Shrank the National Chestpdf

Scholtz, Trebor, New Literacies for a New Aesthetic

Powhida, William, http://williampowhida.com/wordpress/archives/1550 art world, institutional critique

General Reference, Conceptual Art http:plato.stanford.edu/entries/conceptual-art/ [The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

Class Topics and Readings

Semester Plan

weeks 1-2: critique methodology and vocabulary, introduction and critique of entrance work, first year project research and initial proposals

weeks 2-7: R&D, Project 1: project proposals, work-in-progress documentation, individual and group critiques.

weeks 8-14 R&D, Project Project 2, technical briefs and installation plans, continued individual and group critiques and readings

Weekly Assignments
  topic for current week readings and assignments DUE the following week
week 1
Introduction. Course expectations, class structure.

Recommended Exhibitions

Brooklyn Museum, “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85” (Thru 12/17); hours Wed, Fri-Sun, 11am-6pm; Thu, 11am-10pm; brooklynmuseum.org.

Whitney Museum: “An Incomplete History of Protest” (through 10/31); hours Mon. and Wed–Sun 10am-6pm, Friday and Saturday open late until 10pm, closed Tuesday; whitney.org.

Metro Pictures: “Trevor Paglen: “A Study of Invisible Images”” 519 West 24th Street (through 10/21); hours: Tues–Sat 11am-6pm; www.metropictures.com

Sikkema Jenkins & Co.: “Kara Walker: “The most Astounding and Important Painting show of the fall Art Show viewing season!”” 530 W. 22nd St.(through 10/14); hours: Tues–Sat 11am-6pm; www.sikkemajenkinsco.com

David Zwirner: “Chris Ofili: “Paradise Lost”” 519, 525 & 533 West 19th Street(through 10/21); hours: Tues–Sat 11am-6pm; http://www.davidzwirner.com/exhibitions

Also see: http://www.nycgo.com/things-to-do/events-in-nyc/art-calendar and http://artcards.cc for other museums & gallery listings (generates a map also).

Use the blog to post your own show recommendations

Reading Assignment
Writing about art and the discourse on International Art English

Critique Handbook DB
Visual Culture Glossary DB
Practice-based Research DB

Projects playing with the idea of artspeak
• Read the articles on 'International Art English' and write a 300 word response summarizing your response to the discussion.

• Read The Critique Handbook handout for next week. If you feel you are already familiar with this material, read the PDF on Practice-based research.

• Review the vocabulary in the Visual Culture Glossary for terms that may be unfamiliar.

• Prepare a 5-7 minute presentation of a recent project/artwork for next week. This can be a work you submitted for your entrance portfolio, or another work that was completed within the last year. Your presentation will include a written [300-word minimum] summary of your work in addition to your visual presentation and discussion of the work.

• Create your class blog on WordPress or Blogspot; be sure to subscribe the class and professor.
week 2
Presentation of entrance work
Define area of research, discuss alternatives; relate that to your current body of work and/or your research interests.

Discussion of week 1 readings.

Reading Assignment
Walter Benjamin http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ge/benjamin.htm “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” OR summariessummary 1 and summary 2
For background on next week's discussion, read the Walter Benjamin summary (or article) if you are not familiar with his work.

Other helpful links:
Appropriation: http://www.slideshare.net/DeborahJ/cutpaste-appropriation-art
Challenging Individual Authorship Through Collective Participatory Art https://beinginorbit.wordpress.com/essays/dismantling-the-author-challenging-individual-authorship-through-collective-participatory-art/

Also see: John Baldessari's notebook DB

• Write a brief 300 word statement on one of the following issues: authenticity, authorship or appropriation as it relates to your work
• Prepare a preliminary proposal [about 300 words] for a project that is in your area of interest.
• Collect research materials that might be relevant to your project idea. This can be in the form of photos, tech specs, background research, data etc. You can bring in your materials, or post them to your blog or website.

Short proposal Outline
• Project Title
• Abstract: short summary of your project
• Intro your project idea
• Background: how does this project relate to your ongoing work? [it can be a departure, another direction, but if so describe why]
• Work plan: how do you propose to do this? Technical details, production, areas of media
• Significance of your project; what do you want to accomplish?
• References or sources

week 3
Discussion of Project 1 ideas/proposals and timeline

Discussion of week 2 readings.

Reading Assignment
The Importance of Media-Specific Analysis: Print Is Flat, Code Is Deep by Katherine Hayles
Five Principles of New Media by Lev Manovich, pages 43-66
Media, New Media, Post Media by Domenico Quaranta, pages 19-41

• Write a brief 300 word statement based on the reading, about media-specific critique.
• If you haven't started a blog for your project research, proposals and other documentation, do it now!
• Revise and expand your proposal, based on the discussion this week. Post your first sketches, demos or prototypes with visual documentation on your blog or present in book form.
After class today, email your proposal to me for comments.
• Class presentation next time will include a revised project proposal and demo/quick-and-dirty or first version of your proposed project with supporting documentation and research.

NO CLASS 9/20/17

week 4
Presentation of alternative project ideas with research/documentation

Discussion of week 3 readings
Reading Assignment
Metaphor and Semiotics: icon, index, symbol
"Reconsidering Metaphor/Metonymy: Art and the Suppression of Thought" by Charles GainesDB

If you want to read more on this from a different POV: http://jamesbrush.com/metonym/metonym.html

General Reference, Semiotics
Semiotics for Beginners [see also Stuart Hall]
General Reference, Conceptual Art
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/conceptual-art/ [The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

If you liked Charles Gaines’ article on Metaphor/Metonymy, here’s an interviewCharles Gaines in His Studio

• Write a brief 300 word statement based on the reading. Do you agree with Gaines' critique of metaphor?
• Continue revisions to your proposal, based on the discussion this week. Be sure that you have included an abstract, and that you are clearly defining your idea, and including project background, work plan, project significance and references.
• Continue working on Project 1. Present second sketches, demos or prototypes with visual documentation on your blog or present in book form
• Finalize Project 1 proposal. Email me a copy of your revised proposal in Word.

• Project 1 is due week 7.
week 5
Presentation of work-in-process with research/documentation

Discussion of week 4 readings
Reading Assignment
Are we Post-medium? Post-studio?
"The Function of the Studio" by Daniel Buren, DB OR "The Narcissistic Studio: Olafur Eliasson by Philip Urspring" DB

The function of the studio by Caitlin Jones DB There's a synopsis at Rhizome Required Reading
See also Do post-studio artists have post-studio visits? by Eric Wenzel

also read:
Interview with Sharon Butler about post-studio practice

• Write a brief 300 word statement describing your studio practice. Are you studio or post-studio?
• Continue working on Project 1. Present third sketches, demos or prototypes with visual documentation on your blog or present in book form
• For next week be sure to 'rehearse' your presentation so you keep it to less than 7 minutes.
• If you have not updated your blog to show the work of the last 4 weeks, do so now. It should include proposal versions, images, research, other documentation. It's meant to show your work in progress.

• Project 1 is due week 7.
week 6
Presentation of work-in-process with research/documentation

Discussion of week 5 readings
Beginning of media-specific analysis
Excerpt from On Photography
Text of On photography Sontag DB

Reading Assignment
Alternate approaches to photography: read two of the articles below for next week

Review in Frieze and in DBThe Last Picture Show: Artists Using Photography 1960-1982 exhibition
Also look up Ed Ruscha and the Pictures Generation

Jeff Wall, Marks of Indifference: Aspects of Photography in, or as, Conceptual Art DB

Gerhard Richter 'Notes 1964-1965', from Art In Theory Notes 1964-1965', from Art In Theory [search: photography]

Excerpt from Photography in the Age of Electronic Imaging, from Photography, A Critical Introduction edited by Liz Wells DB

• Write a brief 300 word statement using the reading to analyze your approach to photography.
• Be sure that all the material for Project 1, including completed proposal, research documentation and project documentation has been uploaded to your blog.
• Prepare your presentation for Project 1 for week 7 [Oct. 18th].
• Take installation photos/video of your project
• Project 1 is due week 7

week 7
Presentation of Project 1

Discussion of week 6 readings
The New Aesthetics and Post-Internet Art
Reading Assignment

http://new-aesthetic.tumblr.comNew Aesthetics blog

http://artfcity.com/2014/10/14/finally-a-semi-definitive-definition-of-post-internet-art/ about Post-Internet Art

http://post-inter.net/ Post-Internet Art [download] read from the intro to page 24 (there's more material at the end in the form of comments)

http://www.artinamericamagazine.com/news-features/magazine/the-perils-of-post-internet-art/ The Perils of Post-Internet Art


• Write a 300 word statement commenting on either the New Aesthetics or the idea of Post-Internet Art. Is there any aspect, conceptual or visual that's relevant to your work?
• Be sure that all the material from Project 1, including completed proposal, research documentation and project documentation has been uploaded to your blog and is available for discussion at your individual meeting next week.
• Write a proposal for Project 2. Discuss your decision making in determining the direction of your Final Project.
• This project can explore a new idea. Or, if it's a development or continuation of ongoing work or the first project, be sure that it represents a new approach or perspective.
• Project 2 will be due week 14.
Project Proposal outline

Write a 500-750-word proposal for the final project following the format of abstract, introduction, background, work plan and significance

Be specific about each element in your project: specify dimensions, media, time [for video or animation] and format

Separately, create a proposed production schedule for weeks 8-14 and describe your process for each week

Project 1 is due today

• Project 2 is due week 14

week 8
Individual Meetings with presentation of project ideas for Project 2 with research/documentation

Discussion of week 7 readings [time permitting: otherwise the reading discussion will be carried over to week 9]
Institutional critique, social interventions, art and class
Reading Assignment
Christiane Paul, New Media and Institutional critique: networks vs. institutionsDB
Andrea Fraser, Institutional Critique, From the Critique of Institutions to an Institution of Critique
Powhida, William, http://williampowhida.com/wordpress/analytical-drawings slow link, so also go to http://powhida.tumblr.com

9.5 Theses on Art and Class [document] DB
Art and Class : [review of Ben Davis' '9.5 Theses on Art and Class'] http://isreview.org/issue/89/defense-real-world

George Dickie, 'What is Art? An Institutional Analysis' [if you are interested in the origins of Institutional Critique in Art as Institution] George Dickie pdf


• Write a brief 300 word statement in response to either The Christiane Paul text on New Media and Institutional Critique or the Andrea Fraser article. Be sure you refer to the ideas in either text in writing your response. You can refer to your own practice, but it should be in the context of the reading.
• Revise and expand your proposal, based on the discussion this week. Post your first sketches, demos or prototypes with visual documentation on your blog or present in book form

• Project 2 is due week 14

week 9
Presentation of work-in-process with research/documentation

Discussion of week 8 readings
Time-based media Reading Assignment
Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time [DB]
[This is the entire text, but assignment is to read Imprinted Time, Chapter III. Chapter V, The Film Image is interesting as well but not required reading).
Imprinted Time is also in [DB] as a separate file

Time and the Film Aesthetics fo Andrei Tarkovsky PDF

http://www.chrismarker.org/jean-louis-schefer-on-la-jete/Analysis of Chris Marker's La Jetée

If you've never seen La Jetée, watch it here: https://vimeo.com/46620661 It's a bit clipped at the beginning and end...

http://www.fondation-langlois.org/legrady/e/textes/druckrey.html Tim Druckery on George Legrady

http://vimeo.com/15473078 Lev Manovich's database cinema project

• Write a brief 300 word statement in response to one of the texts on time-based art
• Continue work-in-progress on Project 2 and be prepared to present in class. Be sure to update your blog and work on your project documentation.
• Write a short technical description that describes the technologies used in your project. Include any relevant diagrams or attachments.
• [Optional] create a budget for your project.

• Project 2 is due week 14

week 10
Presentation of work-in-process with research/documentation

Discussion of week 9 readings
Collaboration and critique: authorship
Reading Assignment
NEW Reading that relates to authorship: https://medium.com/@jamesbridle/something-is-wrong-on-the-internet-c39c471271d2 Something is Wrong On the Internet.

http://raaf.org/pdfs/Lichty_NewMediaandCollaborationFinal.pdfNew Media and Collaboration, Patrick Lichty [pdf]

http://www.manovich.net/DOCS/models_of_authorship.docLev Manovich, Models of Authorship [DB]

• Write a brief 300 word statement in response to two of the readings above.
• Revise your technical description and budget based on comments
• Create an installation plan showing two views of your project installation. You can use Google SketchUP or do a drawing; pay attention to scale and aspect ratio. Include a section on technical requirements [equipment]

• Project 2 is due week 14

week 11
Presentation of work-in-process with research/documentation

Discussion of week 10 readings
Reading Assignment
Responsive Environments, Myron Kruger, 1977 DB

Brenda Laurel, The Six Elements and the Causal Relations Among Them [pdf]

http://www.culturemachine.net/index.php/cm/article/viewArticle/170/151 [pdf] Review of Dixon book

Recommended Reading
Steve Dixon, Digital Performance, Leonardo Books 2007

Other References
http://turbulence.org/blog/ see [networked performances]
http://www.blasttheory.co.uk/research/ and http://www.blasttheory.co.uk/research-materials/and

• Write a brief 300 word statement in response to two of the readings above.
• Revisions to installation sketches and technical requirements, present work-in-progress.

• Project 2 is due week 14

week 12
Presentation of work-in-process with research/documentation, including technical description and installation plan

Discussion of week 11 readings
Technology, Science and Art; software as art
Reading Assignment
W.T. Mitchell, The Work of Art in the Era of Biocybernetic Reproduction http://www.artlink.com.au/articles/2522/the-work-of-art-in-the-age-of-biocybernetic-reprod/

Code as Art
Code as Craft
Code 2012 [Games, Media, Art]

• Write a brief 300 word statement in response to either Mitchell's article or to the sites on the list.
. • Continue work-in-progress.

• Project 2 is due week 14

week 13
Presentation of work-in-process with research/documentation, including technical description and installation plan

Discussion of week 12 readings
Mass media, popular culture, indie culture
W.T. Mitchell, Showing Seeing this is an abbreviated version of the article that appears in Mitchell’s book, what do pictures want?pdf

Post-Digital Publishing Archive: archive that archives experiments exploring relationships between publishing and digital technology http://p-dpa.net/articles/

• Write a brief 300 word statement in response to the reading above.
• Continue work-in-progress.

• Project 2 is due week 14
week 14
Presentations of Project 2

Curating and critique [optional reading]
reading from Rethinking Curating: Art after New Media, Cook and Graham DB

• Write a 500 word statement of analysis/evaluation of your work for the semester. Post it to your blog.

• Update your personal blog so that documentation for all projects is complete, including project proposals, research citations, prototypes and initial versions, documentation of final versions, technical description and installation plan.

• Take installation photos/video of your project

FINAL First Semester Portfolio

Individual meetings

Final review date: December 13th, appointments TBD

Update your blog with images, proposals, installation drawings, production schedule [etc] and reading responses.

Academic Calendar

link to the CCNY College calendar

Important dates and deadlines

  • September 20, NO Class
  • Week 4, September 27, Revised Project 1 proposal due [project due Week 7]
  • Week 7, October 18, Project 1 due;
  • Individual meetings may be scheduled after Project 1 is due, time TBD
  • Week 8, October 25, Proposal for Project 2 [project due Week 14]
  • Week 10, November 8, Revised Technical description and budget, Project 2
  • Week 14, December 6, Project 2 due [last class]
  • FINAL REVIEW : December 13, individual meetings (signup)

Google Calendar for Working Critique

[the Cal will be visible whe you are subscribed to the calendar and are currentlylogged in to your subscription email]

http://www.eca.ac.uk/circle/glitchd.htm glitch show-->