New Directions in Digital Art

Instructor: Anne-Marie Schleiner

ARTS 4176/5176, Maymester 2006

Mon to Fri 9:30a.m-3pm. , Office Hours: by appt.

N275 (Experimental Digital Arts Lab)



Radical Play



'Our action or behavior, linked with other desirable aspects of a revolution in mores, can be briefly defined as the invention of games of an essentially new type. The most general goal must be to expand the nonmediocre part of life, to reduce the empty moments of life as much as possible... The situationist game is distinguished from the classic notion of games by its radical negation of the element of competition and of separation from everyday life. On the other hand, it is not distinct from a moral choice, since it implies taking a stand in favor of what will bring about the future reign of freedom and play.' --Guy Debord 1957


This course is inspired by the proposition of the Situationists from the late 1950's that radical play should be incorporated as an approach to everyday life.   Projects and readings will challenge students to consider the 3-D models of the real that are taken for granted and to PLAY with them in projects ranging from personal to political.  Forces ranging from the Pentagon, Hesbollah and and Aryian nations have  taken to modeled computer game worlds to propagate their message, confusing the boundaries between the virtual and the so called real.  Less visible as propoganda, but equally powerful, are the models presented by the commercial computer game industry which enforce a number of assumptions based on rules taken for granted about how the world works and how it should be represented visually. Students will also experiment with questions of represention in 3-D Virtual Enviroments, exploring modes other than that of photo-realistic illusionism inherited since the Rennaissance. Throughout the semester, while engaging with these topics, students will technically evolve their skills in creating a 3-D modeled  worlds in Blender, an open source 3D modeler with  built in physics and a game engine, and other software.  (It is assumed students are already familiar with Photoshop.)



Reading Summaries or Visual Essays(2)--each 15% of total grade

Twenty Centuries of Virtual Reality by Simon Penny,TAZ by Hakim Bey   Prepare for 2  Discussion days with summary of readings or visual essay on reading (to show and explain to class on discussion day)  


Optional Readings

Report on Construction of Situationism by Guy Debord, Formulary of New Urbanism by Gilles Ivian


PROJECTS (3) --Project 1 is worth 10% and following two each 25% of total grade


Project 1:   MY HUD   Make an HUD (Heads Up Display) showing the tools you use in everyday life overlayed over an image from your everyday life.  (Photoshop or Illustrator)


Inspiration: Use of everyday and the magic of the mundane in art, DADA, Found Objects, Duchamp, Micah Ganske,  Fake Screen by Brody Condon and collaborators


Project 2.  3-D Soundscape/Sculpture:  Sound Representation vs. Visual Representation. make a world of primitive shapes in Blender, assign a camera to follow a primary shape, give meaning to the shapes and navigation through the world with sounds 


Inspiration:  Innothna,  Retroyou --R/C , Sonic Acts Festival DVD, Luis Hernandez Oversaturation , Rez


Project  3. Option A: TAZ in collaboration with partner


Modeling Worlds,  Embedded assumptions in game models of the real...Design your own 3-D Cult Compound in Blender.  


Inspiration:  Waco by C-level, Joseph DeLappe , Escape from Woomera and other explicitly Political Games, Agora Exchange by Natalie Bookchin and Jaqueline Stevens, God Games...Black and White, The Sims, Shooter Games, GTA, etc.


Option B: Remix/Hack 3-D Soundscape: (Alone) Choose somebody else's Project 2 and do a remix or hack of it. The result should be, as they say in the world of game mods, a "total conversion", substantially unrecognizable from the original.


Inspiration: Aesthetics of Hacking and Glitches in the work of: Jodi's-SOD and Untitled Game (and my review of Untitled Game), Olia Lialina-My Boyfriend came back from the War Remixes, Arcangel Constantini-Atari Noise, Cory Archangel and Retroyou


Participation--10% of total grade--participation includes attending class for critiques, technical demos, and reading discussion days. 

Technical Demos and Tutorials: (although these are not turned in to be graded students will face EXTREME difficulty completing projects if they do not attend--Blender is not an easy program to learn) STUDENTS HAVE FAILED THIS CLASS WHO CHOSE NOT TO ATTEND THESE DEMOS


Students will be required to attend the following demos and complete premade tutorials or watch video demos throughout  the semester.  (It is assumed students are already familiar with photoshop and it will not be demoed)

1. 3D World Basics---x, y, z axises,  perspective window, side and front window, wireframe, solid, textured, number of polygons(resolution) vs. speed, modeling for animations vs modeling for interaction and games


2. Getting to know the Blender Interface--using mouse with three buttons.  Making  own windows, headers etc Basic Keyboard Commands: g-grab, s-scale, r-rotate, a-select all or select nothing, tab-switch between object and edit mode, space bar-menu for create objects, p-play, escape--exit play, x-delete, right-click mouse-select, left-click mouse-confirm action, middle mouse-move around in perspective window, curser then c-center view


3. Basic Mesh Modeling:  Begining with primaries like planes and cubes and then extruding them. Quickie Model and Modeling a Simple Person and other Mesh Modeling Tutorials.


4. Using physics and the game engine, Logic Bricks --Sensors, Controllers, and Actuators


5. Adding Sound--use wav files, Basic Sound Editing Demo


6. Mapping Textures--UV Face Window and Image Window


Extra Credit Exercise:  Make your own Blender Tutorial Webpage on something to do with the game engine.




Week 1:

Mon May 15, Intro, Project 1

Tues May 16, Begin Project 2, Blender Demo 1and Blender Demo 2

Wed May 17 Blender Build Simple Person Tutorial (extrusion and additive mesh modeling)

Thurs May 18 1. Lab Day

Fri May 19 1. Deck Demo?


Week 2:

Mon May 22 Blender Demo 4, Blender Demo 5

Tues May 23 Reading Discussion Day, Visual Essay or Summary due for Simon Penny and Hakim Bey, Discussion Questions

Weds May 24 Blender Demo 6

Thurs May 25 Lab Day

Fri May 26 Critique Projects 1 and 2, Begin Project 3


  Week 3:

Mon May 29 Lab Day

Tues May 30 Lab Day

Wed May 31 Lab Day

Thurs June 1 Lab Day

Fri June 2 Project 3 Final Critique