1020 sections 01, 02, 03, 04
Fall Semester 2009

c. G. Blatt MS:I Fall 2008



Course Description:
Media Studio: Imaging is an introductory studio visual arts class using raster and vector based digital imaging, basic animation, and some web technologies for creative expression. Inquiry and experimentation are encouraged as students develop basic skills through a series of short studies which lead to a final project and web portfolio.

Projects reflect equal attention to concept, expression, and technique. Screenings, related readings, and discussions of influential themes help give background to the history and theory of contemporary visual arts practice in highly technological and scientific cultures. The themes and projects in the class lead to the development of conceptual and critical thinking skills.

Fall and Spring terms annually. 4 credit hours

Course Structure:
The course includes plenary lectures and studio labs. 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  email:  
phone: 518-276-2539
office: West Hall 314c
office hours: by appointment Tuesdays 1:30 -3:30 PM


Studio Lab Instructors:

Sections 1& 2: Yehuda Duenyas


office: Studio 211
office hours: by appointment
Sections 3 & 4: Boryana Dragoeva


office: Studio 214
office hours: by appointment



Student Mentors:


Section 1: WH Studio 211, 10 to 11:50am

Kevin Icatar email:

office: WH Studio 211
office hours: TBA


Section 2: WH Studio 211, 12 to 1:50pm

Laura Cox email:

Tiffany Milano email:

office: WH Studio 211
office hours: TBA


Section 3: WH Studio 214, 10 to 11:50am

Hannah Dym email:

office: WH Studio 214
office hours: TBA


Section 4: WH Studio 214, 12 to 1:50pm

Elizabeth Hambrick email:

office: WH Studio 214
office hours: TBA



Course Overview








Week 1 & 2


Seeing the Other: Pixel Art


Percent: 7%

Due: Sept 16




Lev Manovich

New Media from Borges to HTML

Due Sept 9


Sept 2


History of Digital Culture

Pixel Art

Team Formation


Sept 8

The Temple of Art



Sept 2

The Story of Computer Graphics





Sept 8

Leonardo da Vinci: Renaissance Master
Interdisciplinary Artist



Sept 3

* See best works

* Review

Photoshop basics, image setup,png/gif file formats, pencil tool, seeing and simplifying color, resizing, bit depth


Sept 9

*Work in Studio




Week 3  


Environmental Collage



Percent: 7%

Due: Sept 23



Curt Cloninger

A Process Primer


Global Warming

Due Sept 23



Sept 15





Fair Use Law





Sept 16

* Critiques of Pixel Art studies

* Photoshop: file prep, sizing the digital photograph, layers, masking: quick mask/layer mask, collage

* Work in Studio



Week 4


Digital Graffiti



Percent: 7%

Due: Sept 30


Neil Postman Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology

Due Sept 30


Sept 22

Digital Graffiti



Sept 23

* Critiques of  Environmental Collages

* expressive gestures, dynamic places, seamless tiling in Photoshop, and seamless tile printing

* Work in Studio


Week 5


Self Portrait: Beauty/Age


Percent: 7%

Due: Oct 7


Marita Sturken & Lisa Cartwright

Consumer Culture & Desire

Due Oct 7


Sept 29

Digital Portraiture/ Issues of Beauty & Age



Viral Marketing/


More Viral Marketing/


The Merchants of Cool


Sept 30

* Critiques of Digital Graffiti Studies

* Digital camera, lighting,
* High Rez Photographic Portraits taken of all students
 *compositing, masking
* Layering, retouching

* Work in Studio



Week 6


Identity: Personal Logo


Percent: 7%

Due: Oct 14




Naomi Klein

New Branded World

Due Oct 14


Oct 6

Identity: Logos, Pathos, Ethos



The Yes Men



Oct 7

* Illustrator overview, vector imaging, layers, printing


Week 7 & 8


Stop Action Animation


Percent: 7%

Due: Oct 28



Oct 13


Tuesday is a Monday, no lecture


Oct 20

Motion: “to give life to”





Wm Kentridge


Oct 14

* critiques of personal Logo studies

* catch up & start to storyboard animation ideas




Oct 21

Photographing motion, animation, storytelling with objects, framing, tripod or hand held, lighting



Week 9 & 10




Net Project







Percent: 7%

Due: Nov 11


Bioart in Question
NanoTech: Issues


Nanomeme Syndrome

Due Nov 4


Oct 27

BioArt: issues and ideas





Nov 3


Net Art



Visiting Artist:
Boryana Rossa


Oct 28

* Critique of Stop Action Animation Projects

* Bio/Nano reaction papers
* BioArt
* Web design, Dreamweaver, html
* review of file formats for the web.

Nov 4
* work in studio
* Critique of bio/nao Art Net


Week 11 & 12


Character & The Military Entertainment Complex


Percent: 7%

Due: Nov 24 in Plenary




Ed Halter

From Sun Tzu to XBox  (Introduction)
Due Nov 18


Nov 10

Character & The Military Entertainment Complex


Nov 17

* Characters

* Short Quiz on basic terms Digital Imaging Basics to learn and know study guide





Screening: Gamer Revolution




Visiting Artist:

Yehuda Duenyas


Nov 11

* Critique Bio/Nano Net Projects

* work in studio on sketches &  expression for your character


Nov 18

Work on digital drawing & painting techniques


Week  13 & 14


Final Project


Percent: 10%

Due: Dec 2


Research readings


Nov 24

* Critique Character Studies

* Amplification

Work in Plenary on Final Project Pre-concept Reviews


Dec 1

Work in Plenary











Waking Life


Nov 25

enjoy Thanksgiving

 (Please work on final projects & web portfolios over the break)



Dec 2

Critiques of Final Projects



Week 15


Web Portfolio


Percent: 5% (Design)

Due: Dec 9

(no exceptions)



Dec 8

Work in Plenary



Dec 9

Full Web portfolio presentations


LAST DAY TO HAND IN ALL PERFECTED short studies and final project in Web Portfolio. NO EXCEPTIONS






Class Participation in Plenary & Studio

Percent: 10%






Reading Reaction Papers

Percent: 8%






Event Reaction Papers

Percent: 8%











Samples of previous student work:
Fall 2006

Fall 2007


Arts Sites and Resources


Digital Imaging Basics to learn and know study guide


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:
Section 01 Wednesday, crn 42945, 10 -11:50AM, West Hall 211

Section 02 Wednesday, crn 42946, 12 - 1:50PM, West Hall 211
Section 03 Wednesday, crn 42950, 10 - 11:50AM, West Hall 214

Section 04 Wednesday, crn 43351, 12 -   1:50PM, West Hall 214



Learning Outcomes: Upon successful completion of the course students develop introductory ability for creative expression using raster and vector based digital imaging, and basic animation as demonstrated in a web portfolio of short studies and final project. Students expand the development of their conceptual and critical thinking, increasing their ability to think non-linearly and solve abstract and concrete problems creatively.

Students develop introductory background in the history and theory of contemporary visual arts practice in the context of highly technological and scientific cultures. Students increase their ability to discuss and analyze the work of others and oneself critically as demonstrated in critiques and in written events and reading reactions.

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

* Introduction to the history and theory of digital imaging in the context of contemporary technological and scientific cultures 

* Ability to discuss and analyze the work of others and oneself critically

* Ability to express oneself artistically

* Increased ability to think non-linearly and solve abstract and concrete problems creatively

* Some ability to communicate and work effectively in group teams

* Basic proficiency in raster imaging

* Basic proficiency in vector imaging

* Basic animation: stop action

* Introduction to basic 2-D design principles

* Basic use of  a digital camera & basic photo skills

* Familiarity with resolution

* Basic scanning techniques

* Familiarity with image formats and compression

* Basic printing skills

* Familiarly with drawing using a digital stylus

* Color manipulation skills

* Understanding of the technical work flows of digital imaging for print and for the web 



How to upload your projects


Assignments & Evaluation: (please see course overview chart for amplification)

* Short Studies: Students must complete all 8 short studies and final projects by the deadlines given.
* Final Project: The final project is an exploration that expands on a more in-depth approach to one of the short studies.  For the pre-review process 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.

* Readings: you will be provided excerpted readings from which you write a brief one-page reaction paper to them. Please put the name of the article, author, your name and double space when typing. Upload to your drop box and also put into your final web portfolio.
* Events Requirements: There are 3 events requirements from our posted list with a follow up written reaction/critique paper.
* Final Web Portfolio: Please work on this throughout the semester as you update and improve your work. All of your perfected assignments will be put together in a web portfolio submitted by upload to your drop box and also via a CD. Hand this in on the last day of class with your name, course name and section number written on the physical cd. We will use this to help do the final grading.

* Class participation in plenary, studio and in critiques of your work and that of others.

Grade Scale
A=4.0, A-=3.67, Outstanding; pushing limits of student’s conceptual, technical, artistic ability

B+=3.33 B=3.0, B-= 2.67, Good; thoughtful, thorough, and creative completion of project

C+= 2.33, C=2.0 C-= 1.67, Average; Project completed according to minimum requirement

D+=1.33, D=1.0, Poor; does not meet minimum assignment

F=0.0,  Fail; failure to complete the assignment


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.

Suggested readings:

The New Media Reader edited by Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort
The Language of New Media by Lev Manovich

Hot Wiring Your Creative Process by Curt Kloninger

No Logo by Naomi Klein

Practices of Looking an Introduction to Visual Culture by Marita Sturken & Lisa Cartwright

Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology by Neil Postman


Other Suggested Readings:

New Media Art by Mark Tribe

Art of the Digital Age by Bruce Wands

New Media: A Critical Introduction by Martin Lister, Jon Dovey, Seth Giddings, Iain Grant, Kieran Kelly

New Media in Art (World of Art) by Michael Rush

DIGITAL ART Second Edition by Christiane Paul
Design Research: Methods and Perspectives by Brenda Laurel ed.& Peter Lunenfeld

Information Arts: Intersections of Art, Science, and Technology 
by Stephen Wilson

Tracing New Media in Everyday Life and Technology ed by Marianne van den Boomen, Sybille Lammes,Ann-Sophie Lehmann, Joost Raessens,and Mirko Tobias Schäfer
New Media, Old Media: A History and Theory Reader by Wendy Hui Kyong Chun (Editor), Thomas W. Keenan (Editor)
On Photography  Susan Sontag
Snap to Grid: A User's Guide to Digital Arts, Media, and Cultures" (2000) by Peter Lunenfeld



REQUIRED to attend 3 events from the following list and to write a reaction paper review.

Guideline for the paper and a guide to writing a critique

UNFICTION SERIES —The Sounds of Science
September 17, 7:30 PM Theater
a series of documentary films that turn truth into something other than fact, using poetry and imagination

Slow Wave: Seeing Sleep
September 25 through 27 multiple venues
Over three days, visitors will have a chance to view exhibitions by Pierre Huyghe, Jennifer Hall, Rodney Graham, Fernando Orellana and Brendan Burns, Ana Rewakowicz, and Andy Warhol; attend a performance by Alvin Lucier, and revisit milestones in sleep science.

Mads Lynnerup "Take A Day Off!"
Installation (Opens Thursday Oct 1 EMPAC Mezzanine 5 - 7 pm reception with artist) closes November 20
performative-installation, lo-fi, one toe in relational esthetics and certainly an unconventional approach to documentary and/or the archive. 
DANCE MOViES Commission 2007-2008
Saturday October 3, 7:00 PM | Theater
Unfiction: White Sky
Thursday October 8, 7:30 PM | Theater

Marc Bamuthi Joseph: The Break/s: a mixtape for the stage
October 23 or 24  8:00 PM | Theater
traces hip-hop’s evolution from a local and highly political art movement to a worldwide cultural force.
Workspace Unlimited: They Watch
October 30 - November 20 | Studio 1 – Goodman
Opens Friday October 30, 5 -7 pm - closes Nov 20
game engines
"interactive art" that takes into account that interactivity is/can be more that a one to one correlation, but a more complex and psychological and dramaturgical sense of interactivity as well. Artificial intelligence. infrared tracking systems
Marc Downie: FIELD Talk
Friday November 6, 7:00 PM | Studio 2
DANCE MOViES Commission 2008-2009 Premiere

Saturday November 7, 7:30 PM | Theater
Experts in panoramic art talk
Wednesday November 18, 7:00 PM | Studio 1 – Goodman
Bernd Lintermann from ZKM coming to talk about a slew of projects that they have cooked up for the panoramic screen they have there
a panel and/or show and tell with experts from the field.




Required materials:

* Software: We will be using Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver. (These applications are available on the computers in the studio labs in WH 214 & 211, Sage 4510, and VCC NW Lobby, and elsewhere on campus.) It is highly recommended that you purchase these programs with an educational discount at the RPI computer store. The Adobe CS4 Design Edition has these applications. (Please note: if you are taking other media related courses you may wish to check with your professors and purchase larger suites of applications.)


* A digital camera a dslr (digital single lens reflex camera) is preferred if you are considering further advanced work in the field or a digital point and shoot which enables you to set aperture/shutter priority. 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 follow the signs.) Please reserve ahead of time. (Film cameras or 4 disposable cameras can be used, but are not preferred and will require extra time in scanning.)

Possible laces to check for digital cameras: B&H Photo Video , New Egg , Tiger Direct or directly to the manufacturer such as Cannon, Sony, Nikon, Kodak, etc.

* 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 work.


* Digital Storage: please back up all your good files 3 times each, even while in process. Suggested backup forms are: Flash drive (aka jump drives, memory sticks, cds (approximately 15), or dvds (approximately 10).


* Other materials on a per project basis.


* A journal for your thoughts and ideas concerning your projects is highly recommended.



Possible Screenings:
a selection of some of the following:

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


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 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.

BioArt dvd 

Gamer Revolution Anticipation builds in Seoul, South Korea as 20,000 screaming fans await the arrival of their video game idols for the ultimate game-off - Beatlemania 21st century style. In Romania, teens slave away in a "virtual sweatshop" racking up points for Westerners who are too busy to play their own games. And somewhere in a small town 100 miles from the Arctic Circle, the largest gathering of online gamers in the world is getting underway.

Computer games are a global phenomenon and a $25 billion dollar a year industry. Over 800 million people worldwide are regular players. GAMER REVOLUTION, shot in HD, is the first full-length documentary to look past the hype, paranoia, and hoopla to explore the real stories behind the computer game revolution.

GAMER REVOLUTION explores how computer games are not only a new medium for the 21st century, they are a massive form of change in our world." says Rachel Low, President, Red Apple Entertainment. "The idea of living inside a computer-generated universe is happening right now. The line between the real world and the virtual world is disappearing. Millions of people feel that they have a life inside these games."


William Kentridge Drawing the Passing documentary by Maria Anna Tappeiner and Reinhard Wulf, Exploring a space between the personal and the political,  the work of South African artist William Kentridge has since the 1970's investigated the diseased, amnesiac consciousness of the late and post-apartheid South Africa. Kentridge has received international acclaim for his animated films, drawings and theatre work. In his 'stone-age filmmaking technique', Kentridge films his charcoal drawings as they mutate through hundreds of successive erasures and alterations. Erasure is never complete, and the drawings and films carry within them the history of their making. N3830.K47W54

Waking Life written & directed by Richard Linklater. PN1997.5 .W353 2002 Dreams. What are they? An escape from reality or reality itself? Waking Life follows the dream(s) of one man and his attempt to find and discern the absolute difference between waking life and the dreamworld. While trying to figure out a way to wake up, he runs into many people on his way; some of which offer one sentence asides on life, others delving deeply into existential questions and life's mysteries. We become the main character. It becomes our dream and our questions being asked and answered. Can we control our dreams? What are they telling us about life? About death? About ourselves and where we come from and where we are going? The film does not answer all these for us. Instead, it inspires us to ask the questions and find the answers ourselves.




Suggested Tutorials:

The tutorials in the applications themselves are very helpful.


(these tutorial dvds are in the library under our class reserve)



How to Succeed in Class

This class will expand your preconceived notions of computer-based art by challenging your vision, inventiveness, imagination and motivation. The successful student in this class will be highly self-directed and disciplined in exploring 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 via application tutorials and following studio lessons.
• Do your readings and contribute to the class discussions and critiques.
• Be involved in discussions and critiques. Critique of each other’s work is constructive. It is a gift to your fellow classmates to help them and yourself improve in your technique and criticality.
• Do your work – on time. There are no extensions.
• Do not do your email, instant messenger, text messaging, 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 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 other levels of 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 lose 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.

It is required that you bring your laptop to every lecture and studio lab.


Focused Attention: Important: Writing emails, instant messages and other unfocused forms of communications, unless specifically desired by the instructor, are not tolerated and count directly against your grade at a loss of 10% for each offense and will be grounds for dismissal from class.


Card Access:
As a student enrolled in Arts, you have card access to West Hall 211 and 214, which are undergraduate imaging labs.

Any problems with card access or studio facilities, please contact Greg Palmer Technical manager ext. 8015


Please take great care of all gear in the studio labs and all facilities. Please do not 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 broken or lost gear. 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 are 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 Rensselaer electronic mail account, and should check mail at least five 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 when indicated. In this class, all assignments that are turned in for a grade must represent the student’s own work. In cases where help was received, or teamwork was allowed, a notation on the assignment should indicate your collaboration. Submission of any assignment that is in violation of this policy will result in a penalty of an F. If you have any question concerning this policy before submitting an assignment, please ask for clarification.

Academic Honesty
Student relationships are built on 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 occasions of unexcused lateness = one absence. (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.)

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.




Helpful sites:
Rensselaer Computer HelpDesk:
Rensselaer Library RenSearch: