1020  sections 01, 02, 03, 04
Fall Semester 2006

Overview Chart for:
 all due dates,
lectures, readings,
short study projects,
& studio info

Image by Patrick Marion, IDI Sp’06


Course Description:
Media Studio: Imaging and Interactivity is an introductory studio arts course in digital photography, web design and interactive multimedia for creative expression. Inquiry and experimentation are encouraged as students develop basic skills through a series of short studies and a student directed final project.

Projects reflect equal attention to student’s conceptual, technical and artistic development. Screenings, related readings, and discussions of influential themes help give background to the history and theory of contemporary artistic practice in a highly technological and scientific culture.

Fall and spring terms annually. 4 credit hours


Course Structure:
The course includes a lecture and a studio lab. Lectures provide an overview of digital arts and related cultural issues which inform the required projects. Studio labs consist of skills development workshops and critiques.


Kathleen Ruiz
phone: 518-276-2539
office: West Hall 314c
office hours: by appointment Tuesdays 1-3PM


Studio Lab Instructor: Sections 1& 2:

Ryder Cooley


office: West Hall 301
office hours: by appointment
Studio Lab Instructor: Sections 3 & 4:

Charles Veasey


office: West Hall 301
office hours: by appointment


Student Mentors:


Bridgette Alexandra Kenkel


office: Studio 214
office hours:

Jeremy Sachs


office: Studio 214
office hours:


Sarah Merlin


office: Studio 214
office hours:


Nicole Van Slyke


office: Studio 214
office hours:


Andrew Rarig


office: Studio 214
office hours:


Noah Lucas


office: Studio 214

office hours:  




Class Times:

(attendance is mandatory and is taken at each lecture

and each studio lab)


Tuesday, 6:00pm to 7:50pm, Sage 5101

Studio Lab Sections:
01 Wednesday, crn 60617, 10 -11:50AM, West Hall 211

02 Wednesday, crn 60618, 12 - 1:50AM, West Hall 211
03 Wednesday, crn 60622, 10 - 11:50, West Hall 214

04 Wednesday, crn 61328, 12 - 1:50, West Hall 214


Course syllabus: is subject to minor changes, a current version is accessible here:



Media Studio Imaging


Students must complete all short study and final projects by the deadlines given. There are also assigned readings throughout the semester. You will be required to write written reactions to these readings.  Class participation is also an important factor for your grade.


How to upload your work.



Please see overview chart for detailed info


Short Studies:


* Emotion Sketches: Intuition & Creativity

Due: Sept 5 submitted electronically by 11:59 PM

Critiqued in studio Sept 6


* Pixel Art: create a pixel art head image of your classmate in collaborative groups of 4.

Due: Sept 12 submitted electronically by 11:59 PM

Critiqued in studio Sept 13


* Self Portrait: Beauty/Age: create a self portrait photograph, then using photoretouching and image manipulation skills learned in studio make it as beautiful/handsome as possible, then age yourself 20 years

Due:  Sept 19 submitted electronically by 11:59 PM

Critiqued in studio Sept 20


* Environmental Landscape:  the landscape of today and tomorrow, ideation of the future

Due: Sept 26 submitted electronically by 11:59 PM

Critiqued in studio Sept 27


* Identity: Personal Logo: create a unique printed personal logo tag

Due: Oct 3 by submitted electronically by 11:59 PM

Critiqued in studio Oct 4


* Nano Bot: explain visually and with text what nanotechnology is and then visualize a nano techbot keeping in mind the readings in class about the pros, the cons and the hype surrounding new technologies

Due: Oct 17 submitted electronically by 11:59 PM

Critiqued in studio Oct 18


* BioArt net Project: living tissue culture, genetic, morphologic modifications, biomechanic constructions are some of the many techniques bio artists use, posing technological, ethical and social questions. Create a website about a unique bioart project you would be interested in creating

Due: Oct 31 submitted electronically by 11:59 PM

Critiqued in studio Nov 1


* Stop action Animation: using still images construct a short animated narrative or story

Due: Nov 7 submitted electronically by 11:59 PM

Critiqued in studio Nov 8


* SuperHero: create your own, new superhero, using flash animation, rotoscoping, or morphing. Create an interactive function which serves to challenge your superhero.

Due: Nov 14 submitted electronically by 11:59 PM

Critiqued by TA via email



Final Project:


* FINAL PROJECT: The final project should be an exploration that expands on one of the lecture topics and can be a more in-depth approach to one of the short studies.  You are required to articulate your final project in an artist statement of from one to two paragraphs whereby your concept, methodology and at least 5 bibliographic references/influences are stated for the pre review process.

All final projects are due in your studio critique on Wednesday, November 29.



All pre-critiqued and perfected short study projects and final projects are due the last day of studio class, Dec 6. 2006.
There are absolutely NO EXCEPTIONS.




Lecture Topics:
Please see overview chart for detailed info

Week 1 

Aug 29 – Introduction/ What is Digital Imaging?/

Intuition & Creativity/  tangram exercise/

/ intro to gesture & emotion short study
Screening: Genius-Leonardo da Vinci

Week 2

Sept 5 – The History of Digital Culture, The Temple of Art, Pixel Art

Screening: The Story of Computer Graphics


Week 3

Sept 12 – Digital Portraiture: Issues of Beauty/Age

Visiting artist: Dan Ostrov


Week 4

Sept 19 – The Landscape / The Environment / Refuse / Photo Digital Ideation/ metaphor, symbol, allegory/Photomontage

Visiting artist: Ryder Cooley


Week 5

Sept 26 –  Identity / Logos / Logo Count/ Identity Politics and Gender Representation / Identity Politics: Race & Class Representation

Screening: The Merchants of Cool


Week 6 & 7 (no lecture class week 7)

Oct 3 –  Nano Perspectives,

visiting artist: Rich Pell

Screening  Biomed/Biotech film

Oct 10 – NO lecture Class, Tuesdays FOLLOW MONDAY SCHEDULE


Week 8 & 9

Oct 17 –  BioArt: issues and ideas

Visiting artist: Julia Reodica & Boryana Rossa

Oct 24 –  NetArt

Screening: The Net: the Unabomber


Week 10

Oct 31 – Motion/Emotion “To give life to”

Visiting artist: Shawn Lawson

Screening: William Kentridge


Week 11 & 12

Nov 7 –  The Military Entertainment Complex/

gaming / machinima/ superheros

Screening: Why We Fight

Nov 14 – Flash animation

Screening: Waking Life


Week 13 (before Thanksgiving) & 14 (just after Thanksgiving)

Nov 21 – Final Project Pre-reviews/discussions

Nov 28 – Final Project Pre-reviews/discussions


Week 15

Dec 5 – Exhibition of student work at 6pm at:

The Flavor Café & Gallery

228 4th St, Troy, NY 12180,

(518) 266-9253 Get directions



Please see overview chart for detailed info


During the semester there will be required readings related to the short studies and lectures. You will write a short reaction paper for each - a one page double spaced summary of the essay’s major points and your personal reactions to the content.


New Media from Borges to HTML

By Lev Manovich
(commissioned for The New Media Reader, edited by Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort, The MIT Press

Reaction paper Due Sept 6

Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture
by Marita Sturken, Lisa Cartwright:

Chapter 3 Spectatorship
Reaction paper Due: Sept 20

On Photography
By Susan Sontag
In Plato’s Cave
Reaction paper Due Sept 27

Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture
by Marita Sturken, Lisa Cartwright:

Chapter 6  Consumer Culture & the Manufacture of Desire  Reaction paper Due: Oct 4

The Nanomeme Syndrome: Blurring of fact & fiction in the construction of a new science
Jim Gimzewski and Victoria Vesna

Nanotechnology: Issues
“Drexler and Smalley make the case for and against 'molecular assemblers'”  by Rudy Baum
Reaction papers for both Due: Oct 11


Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture
by Marita Sturken, Lisa Cartwright

Chapter 8 Scientific Looking, Looking at Science
Reaction paper Due: Oct 25

Theaters of War: The Military-Entertainment Complex

By Tim Lenoir and Henry Lowood
Reaction paper Due: Nov 15



Studio Schedule:

Please see overview chart for detailed info

Aug 30 –

Sept 6 –

Sept 13 –

Sept 20 –

Sept 27 –

Oct 4 –

Oct 11 –

Oct 18 –

Oct 25 –

Nov 1 –

Nov 8 –

Nov 15 –

Nov 22 – off for Thanksgiving


Dec 6- Last class, submit all perfected work



Suggested Additional Texts:

Paul, Christiane. Digital Art (World of Art). Thames and Hudson: 2003. ISBN: 0-500-20367-9

Photoshop CS2 by Laurie Ulrich Fuller and Deke McClelland




Adobe Photoshop CS2 Studio Techniques by Ben Willmore


Adobe Photoshop CS2 Classroom in a Book (Classroom in a Book) by Adobe Creative Team

The Photoshop CS2 Book for Digital Photographers (Voices That Matter) by Scott




Macromedia Dreamweaver 8: Training from the Source (Training from the Source S.) by Khristine Annwn Page




Macromedia Flash 8 for Windows & Macintosh (Visual QuickStart Guide) by Katherine Ulrich

Optional, and free: an online Photoshop book located at RPI’s library. You must be connected via the RPI server. Photoshop at Your Fingertips: Get In, Get Out, Get Exactly What You Need by Jason Crawford Teague

There is also Safari, a service provided by the library for many textbooks [sometimes only 1 user license for each, though]



1. basic Photoshop
2. using a digital camera
3. animated gifs/ claymation with cell phone cameras
4. scanning
5. basic html
6. basic Dreamweaver
7. basic Flash: animation/ rotoscoping/ morphing/interactivity

Media Studio / Imaging is a pre-requisite to a significant number of e-studios. The following are the topics and skills that students coming out of Media Studio Imaging aim to have:

* Intro to history and theory of image making

* Intro to 2-D design principles

* Ppi, dpi – resolution familiarity

* Familiarity with the full range of image formats

* Compression

* Basic photo skills

* Raster imaging – photoshop

* Vector drawing - illustrator

* Basic scanning techniques

* Basic printing skills

* Digital stylus drawing skills

* Color manipulation skills

* Intro to web media

* Ability to discuss and analyze work critically



Required materials:
A digital camera (dslr (preferred) or digital point and shoot), film camera, or 4 disposable cameras. Digital cameras are preferable. The Arts Department equipment room (ER) has some digital cameras available to sign out. The equipment room is located on the ground floor of West Hall. Please reserve ahead of time.
* An ink jet printer capable of photo quality is highly suggested. *
Wacom or cordless graphics tablet and stylus. If digital art is your area of study, a graphics tablet is highly recommended as you will use it for future personal and class work.
*Flash drive (aka jump drives, memory sticks) for backup of your files. Look for USB 2.0 Hi-Speed label if possible. In comparison to burning CDs, Flash drives are a faster and simpler way to store media or transfer media from one computer to another. Just stick it into the USB port on your computer and within a few seconds a new drive appears on your desktop.
* Optionally you can use cds (approximately 8 to 10) or 3 data dvds.

* a journal for your thoughts concerning your projects and their development.

Places to check for digital cameras:
B&H Photo Video
New Egg
Tiger Direct
or Directly to the Manufacturer




Genius - Leonardo da Vinci The story of the brilliant Italian artist, sculptor, architect and engineer is told in this informative program. Leonardo’s legacy to the world came in so many forms; in the breathtaking beauty of The Last Supper and The Mona Lisa; his rich collection of drawing; the mirror-written notebooks containing original thoughts on astronomy, biology and physiology. This DVD features: State of the art 3D graphics to explain and test Leonardo’s theories and designs, outstanding computer animated reconstructions, the paintings and drawings, rare period imagery, expert commentary and analyses by Dr. Alan Cartwight, School of Engineering at the University of Warwick, Dr. Peter Borcherds, School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Birmingham and Dr. Martin Kemp, Trinity College Oxford. 50 min.


The Story of Computer Graphics From its early development as an obscure topic of research, to its widely accepted role as an important communication tool, Computer Graphics has a rich history of human accomplishment. This movie attempts to document some of the most compelling stories behind the striking graphics and technology that we take for granted in today's imagery. This is the "human" story of the pioneers that are revolutionizing visual communication, through a community with its own unique culture. 93 min

THE MERCHANTS OF COOL Examines the tactics, techniques, and cultural ramifications of these marketing moguls in 'The Merchants of Cool.' Rushkoff talks with top marketers, media executives and cultural/media critics, and explores the symbiotic relationship between the media and today's teens, as each looks to the other for their identity." The Merchants of Cool Website at features interview, information, and STREAMING VIDEO of the entire documentary.



Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage by Heather Rogers
Author and filmmaker Heather Rogers will screen her documentary on the political history of rubbish in the United States ("Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage") and talk about her new book of the same name. Every day a phantasmagoric rush of spent, used and broken riches flows through our homes, offices, and cars. The U.S. is the planet's number one producer of garbage, and over the past 30 years America's garbage output has doubled. Rogers explains that, despite popular wisdom, this torrent of trash is not primarily the responsibility of the individual consumer, instead it's the outcome of a free market system that needs waste to maintain high consumption levels. To understand the roots of today's waste-addicted culture, Rogers examines the grisly, oddly fascinating underworld of trash.

For more information, visit


The Net: The Unabomber, LSD and the Internet Director: Lutz Dammbeck
Ultimately stunning in its revelations, Lutz Dammbeck's THE NET explores the incredibly complex back-story of Ted Kaczynski, the infamous Unabomber. This exquisitely crafted inquiry into the rationale of this mythic figure situates him within a late 20th Century web of technology - a system that he grew to oppose. A marvelously subversive approach to the history of the Internet, this insightful documentary combines speculative travelogue and investigative journalism to trace contrasting counter cultural responses to the cybernetic revolution. For those who resist these intrusive systems of technological control, the Unabomber has come to symbolize an ultimate figure of Refusal. For those that embrace it, as did and do the early champions of media art like Marshall McLuhan, Nam June Paik, and Stewart Brand, the promises of worldwide networking and instantaneous communication outweighed the perils. Dambeck's conceptual quest links these multiple nodes of cultural and political thought like the Internet itself. Circling through themes of utopianism, anarchism, terrorism, CIA, LSD, MK-ULTRA, Tim Leary, Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, THE NET exposes conspiracies and upheavals, secrets and cover-ups along the way.

Biomedicine and Biotechnology 47min dvd] / a presentation of Films for the Humanities & SciencesR856.4 .B615 2004 

Why We Fight Is American foreign policy dominated by the idea of military supremacy? Has the military become too important in American life? Jarecki's shrewd and intelligent polemic would seem to give an affirmative answer to each of these questions. He may have been the ultimate icon of 1950s conformity and postwar complacency, but Dwight D. Eisenhower was an iconoclast, visionary, and the Cassandra of the New World Order. Upon departing his presidency, Eisenhower issued a stern, cogent warning about the burgeoning "military industrial complex," foretelling with ominous clarity the state of the world in 2004 with its incestuous entanglement of political, corporate, and Defense Department interests. (view trailer)


Waking Life, written & directed by Richard Linklater. PN1997.5 .W353 2002





iEAR Presents! Check the RPI art department website for monthly schedule:

North Adams Mass (40 minutes west of Troy)

The Tang Museum
Saratoga Springs (30 minutes north of Troy)

The Center for Curatorial Studies Bard College
Annandale on the Hudson (1 hour south of Troy)

The Center for Photography Woodstock
(1 hour south of Troy)

New York, New York (2 1/2 hours south of Troy)

Whitney Museum of American Art
New York City
(2 1/2 hours south of Troy)

The Museum of Modern Art
New York City
(2 1/2 hours south of Troy)


How to Succeed (in class)
This class will require that you challenge your preconceived notions of computer-based art by expanding and challenging your vision, inventiveness, imagination and motivation. The successful student in this class will be highly self-directed and disciplined to explore new techniques for using the tools. Although self mastery of the tools is encouraged, the successful student will be willing to explore, experiment, and invent new ways to achieve his/her creative goals.

• Be self-motivated and self-disciplined. You will succeed by your own efforts. You are expected to do at least 4 hours preparation for each class.
• Be on time for class
• Learn the technical material in a timely way.
• Do your readings and contribute to the class discussions.
• Do your work – on time.
• Be involved in discussions and critiques. Critique of each other’s work is to be constructive. It is a gift to your fellow classmates to help them and yourself improve in your technique and criticality.
• Do not do your email, instant messenger, or other class work in class. Just don’t be tempted and do not open these applications during class. Turn off your cell phone. Infraction of this rule will result in final grade penalization.
• Do not alter any material or file that you did not create.
• Ask questions! This is a beginning class and no question is too elementary or advanced. Demonstrating the willingness to experiment, ask, and fail while discovering is a guaranteed path to success in this class.
• MS: I&I is a taste of the field that will give you the opportunity to explore the possibilities of digital creativity using computers. You are encouraged to continue taking electronic media classes to continue gaining more in-depth knowledge, skills and creativity.

Time Management:
DO NOT PROCRASTINATE! Waiting until the last minute to complete the assignments will guarantee long nights and incomplete work. Take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions about your assignments in class by starting your work early and managing your time.

Always back-up your work frequently. Systems crash when least expected and you could loose your work. It is a good idea to make more than one backup -- that means making a copy onto your flash drive, a CDR and/or the server. Software or media failure is not an adequate excuse for missed deadlines or assignment extensions. Remember to also save often while you are working. Save each file as a new file by giving it a new name. You can discard your earlier versions later.


10% Class Participation
11% Written reaction papers on readings
63% Short Studies (There are 9 assignments @ 7% each)
16% Final Project

Grade Scale
90-100 A – Outstanding; pushing limits of student’s conceptual, technical, artistic ability
80-89 B – Good; thoughtful, thorough, and creative completion of project
70-79 C – Average; Project completed according to minimum requirements
60-69 D – Poor; does not meet minimum assignments
Below 60 F – Fail; failure to complete the assignments

It is required that you bring your laptop to every lecture and studio lab. Important: Writing emails, instant messages and other unfocused forms of communications, unless specifically desired by the instructor, are not tolerated and count against your class participation. As a student enrolled in Arts, you have card access to West Hall 211 and 214, which are under graduate imaging labs.

Students will be using Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver and Flash. These applications are available on some computers in the studio labs in the arts department. It is highly recommended that you purchase these programs with an educational discount at the RPI computer store.

Try not to batter or deface any equipment in any way or lose files and folders belonging to our class or other classes.  The facilities are all of ours and Arts does not have funding to replace any gear that is taken or destroyed. Please report studio lab problems to lab staff immediately via email at:

Please follow the guidelines for working in each studio very carefully, as you will be held personally responsible for problems you incur.

Always save onto your own media or into your account as files left on hard drives will be removed.

Also, please keep in mind the highly addictive aspects of working with computers. Many people lose track of time and later wonder why they have severe back, neck and eye problems.  It is a good idea to take a rest every 15 to 20 minutes.  Look up or beyond your computer or, better still, at a long distance to relax your eyes.  Take a walk or stretch.  Fatigue can lead to frustration. Stay in touch with your body's needs. Working with computers can at times be frustrating.  Before having a breakdown, take a break.

Electronic Communication:
All students are expected to have an active electronic mail account, and should check mail at least four times a week for class information. Some essential class information is communicated by email only. 

Statement On Academic Integrity:
Class Specific:
Collaboration and discussion about class projects is actively encouraged, and is in no way considered cheating. This is a studio course, and personal ownership of information is not deemed to be appropriate. Original images are required except where indicated otherwise. Projects are expected to reflect personal endeavor, but may also be collaborative in nature.
Academic Honesty
Student relationships are built on mutual respect and trust. Students must be able to trust that their teachers have made responsible decisions about the structure and content of the course and that they are conscientiously making their best effort to help students learn. Teachers must be able to trust that students do their work conscientiously and honestly making their best effort to learn. Acts that violate this mutual respect and trust undermine the educational process. They counteract our very reason for being here at Rensselaer and will not be tolerated. Any student who engages in any form of academic dishonesty will receive an F in this course and will be reported to the Dean of Students for further disciplinary action. The Rensselaer Handbook defines various forms of Academic Dishonesty and procedures for responding to them. All of these forms are violations of trust between students and teachers. Please familiarize yourself with this part of the handbook.

Gender-fair language:
Because the way we speak and write affects the way we think, everyone in this course is expected to use gender-fair language in all discussions and writing. A guide to gender-fair language is available from the Writing Center and from the Library.

Class Attendance and Participation Policy:
As an enrolled student, you have made a commitment to this class and your attendance is a significant part of that commitment. Attendance is mandatory at each and every lecture and studio class. Two (2) unexcused absences will result in a reduction of one entire letter grade. Two lates = one absence. A good amount of your participation evaluation is in your contribution to class critiques. Critiques are peer review discussions on a project’s artistic and technical approach. Your studio lab instructors will help facilitate critiques during lab.
(An absence is considered excused if the student has informed his/her Teaching Assistant by phone, email or in person before the beginning of the class (lecture or studio) and the excuse is considered reasonable.)


Helpful sites:

Rensselaer Computer HelpDesk:
Rensselaer Library RenSearch:

Other References:
How to make Very cool things:

Bare Bones Guide to HTML:

Web Style Guide :

WWW Help Pages:

W3C HyperText Markup Language (HTML) Home Page


ARTS Sites:

1. Google the artist’s name on the Web

2. On-Line Journals and Listserves to Subscribe to:





RunMe (Code Art)

3. Archives


Women’s New Media Gallery

Netartistas Latinoamericanos

Digital Performance Archive

4. Electronic Arts Institutions and Festivals

Ars Electronica

Banff Centre for the Arts

Daniel Langlois Foundation

ISEA (International Society of Electronic Arts)


DEAF (Dutch Electronic Arts Festival)

Transmediale (Germany)

VIPER Festival (Switzerland)


5. Some other Recommended Art Sites:

Tiffany Holmes

Miguel Chavalier

Emergent Systems



The Remedi Project

Turbulence (Net Art)

ArtPort (Whitney Museum)


6. Online Exhibition Archives

Techno Seduction

Beyond Interface (net art and hypertext)


Art Entertainment Network (Walker Art Center)

010101 (SFMOMA)