New Directions in Digital Art

Instructor: Anne-Marie Schleiner

ARTS 4176/5176, Spring 2006

Mon/Weds 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. 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, dreamweaver and Final Cut Pro  and these will not be demoed, although lab assistants will be available for technical assistance.)



Reading Summaries or Visual Essays(3)--each 10% of total grade

Report on Construction of Situationism by Guy Debord, Formulary of New Urbanism by Gilles IvianTAZ by Hakim Bey, Twenty Centuries of Virtual Reality by Simon Penny 


Prepare for 2  Discussion days with summary of readings or visual essay on reading (to show and explain to class on discussion day)  


PROJECTS (3)--each 20% 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. 


Historical Game Make a recreation of a game based on historical information. For example you could recreate the court and rules of the sacrificial ball games played by the Maya and Aztecs. This option requires you to do research to obtain historical maps, drawings and descriptions.




3-D Soundscape:  Sound Representation vs. Visual Representation. make a world of primitive shapes in Blender, assign a camera to follow a primary shape, give meaning ot the shapes and navigation through the world with sounds  Inspiration:  Innothna,  Retroyou --R/C , Luis Hernandez Oversaturation


Project  3. Utopia--TAZ or otherwise, 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, , 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.


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 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 digital video editing software  and these 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.

(Gus Tutorial from Blender Manual)


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.






Wed Jan 18 Intro


Mon Jan 23 Begin Project 1


Wed Jan 25 Lab Day


Mon Jan 30 Day


Wed Feb 1 Project 1 Due, Critique


Mon Feb 6 Begin Project 2, Blender Demo 1


Wed Feb 8 Reading Discussion Day, Visual Essay or Summary due for Guy Debord, Discussion Questions


Mon Feb 13 Lab Day


Wed Feb 15 Blender Demo 2


Mon Feb 20 Blender Gus Tutorial in Blender Manual (Download)


Wed Feb 22 Blender Demo 4


Mon Feb 27 Lab Day


Wed March 1 Deck Demo?


Mon March 6 Blender Demo 5


Wed March 8 Lab Day Dont miss Cory Arcangel performance March 9 (Next Thursday) 5:30 Humanities 1B80!!!!


Mon March 13 Progress Meetings


Wed March 15 Lab Day


Mon March 20 Project 2 Due, Critique


Wed March 22  Begin Project 3


  March 27- 31 Spring Break


Mon April 3 Discussion Day 2, Visual Essay or Summary due for Hakim Bey and Simon Penny, Discusssion Questions


Wed April 5 Art examples to inspire Project 3


Mon April 10 Lab Day


Wed April 12 Lab Day


Mon April 17 Lab Day


Wed April 19 Lab Day


Mon April 24 Lab Day


Wed April 26 Lab Day


Mon May 1 Project 3 Due, Critique


Wed May 3 Last Day of Classes