Summer Session ’12 Course Descriptions
Critical Studies / AM
Critical Writing and the Arts
with Andrea Fontenot
This course introduces students to critical writing as a way to interpret, critique, and inform art making in the visual, performing, and literary arts. The goal of the course is to prepare students for their Critical Studies coursework by building strong critical thinking and writing skills—lasting skills that will serve them well beyond their time at CalArts. Though critical writing will be the focus of our course, this will also be an opportunity for students to investigate issues central to art production and reception, both in their own métiers and other art disciplines. Central themes will include technology, capital (i.e., money), and identity. Class discussions and writing will explore some of the following questions: How do various artistic practices depend on technology, and what happens when technological changes force adaptation? And how, in turn, have artists sought to respond to and redefine our everyday relationship to technology? What is the relationship between corporate capitalism and the arts or, more abstractly, between capital and aesthetics—can either operate without the other? How are differences of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ethnicity hidden, revealed, and/or transformed through various forms of art? Why are expressions of identity difference so powerful that they are subject to policing through various forms of censorship? We will approach these questions through course readings that are drawn from a wide range of sources and viewpoints, requiring each student to stake out unique positions while developing his or her own voice as an artist and critic. Over the course of the summer, students will produce a number of critical essays and reviews addressed to an interdisciplinary audience of artists, critics, and scholars. The final project for the class will be to collectively revise and publish a selection of the best essays from the course.
with Michael Bryant
This course will begin with atoms, the building blocks of food, and will end with a complete human body. We will survey the basics of nutrition including carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals and metabolism. With these concepts in mind, we will be able to see how the body puts our food to work. We will see how the body converts breakfast into muscles that can contract and brains that can think. We will see how vitamins help our eyes turn light into images, and how minerals help transport oxygen throughout our body in blood cells. We will see how the body fights off bacteria but sometimes mistakes the food we eat for a hostile invader, and learn why some fats are good and some are bad.
with Claire Phillips
This is a cultural studies seminar/creative writing class for students interested in the writing of cross-genre works. Students are introduced to an overview of literary horror and science fiction-themed works, ranging from late 19th century grotesque romance to mid-80s ‘body horror’ to the contemporary topics of singularity and post humanism. Particular emphasis is paid to the ‘abject,’ and works predicated on hybridity, indeterminacy and alterity. Narrative strategies of transcendence and transgression, machine and human binaries are explored. The potential of a resistive social imaginary is introduced through the criticism of Istan Csicesry-Rosnay, Jr., Donna Haraway, Julia Kristeva and Mihkail Bakhtin, and Deleuze & Guattari. Projects include the short dramatic scene, short story, and the film treatment. Materials for study range from the precursors of science fiction/horror genres, Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Machen, and H.P. Lovecraft, to the body horror works of Octavia Butler and David Cronenberg. Contemporary writers and artists include Greg Egan, Charles Stross and manga artist Junji Ito. Readings are supplemented with film and television material, including selected “body rebellion” movies of the 1950s.
Using an anthropological approach, this course is an eclectic inquiry into the study of food and eating practices among multiple cultural groups. Everyone eats, but what we eat, whom we eat with, where, when and why is all influenced by greater cultural and political forces. Through research, discussion, and oral and written presentations, students will gain a broader understanding of food as a form of self-expression, a means of group solidarity and social reciprocity, a symbolic element of ritual and religion, and as a mechanism of politics and public relations.
with Anthony McCann
In recent years we have been living through what we’re told are different states of crisis and emergency. The war on terror, the economic crisis—who knows what will come next? This class will take a look at how poets have responded to moments of political and cultural crisis or panic. Poetry, in the way it explores lived interior experience and emotion provides a unique look into what it feels like to live in a state of emergency, real or imagined. We will examine the work of a selection of significant contemporary, modern and romantic era poets and the historical periods of crisis in which they worked. Special attention will be given to the relation between historical circumstances and the individual poems birthed during them. We will also look at how and why the special historical situation of a poet, when encoded in her/his poems, can enable a more direct communication between that poet and another poet working in very different circumstances. We will also look closely at individual poems by poets from the “Bush Era” and talk about our own experiences of this historical moment.
with Gary Mairs
Rock & Roll & Movies is a history of Popular Music from 1955 to the present, as seen through its representation in cinema. We will see key works in the history of Rock & Roll movies and read a number of the important critical texts on the music. Issues covered will include the role of race and class in popular music, the paradox of “radical” culture distributed through corporate capital, amateurism, “authenticity” as a cultural value, and the interplay of history and pop culture. Requirements include regular attendance, nightly reading and listening assignments, weekly short papers and a final research paper. Purchase of a course reader is mandatory.
with Ed Groff
This course examines the various roles that dance plays in human culture. Through video viewing, readings, writings and discussions, students will gain a critical perspective on dance within religious, social and theatrical contexts. Examples are drawn from American culture as well as from selected countries around the world to provide a greater appreciation for the creative diversity of human expressivity through dance.
with M. Vasilkovsky
This class is designed to broaden students’ knowledge of animation as an art form through viewings of experimental animated films from around the world, and to familiarize them with key principles of movement and design in animation such as timing and rhythm. Using digital video format (Lunchbox image capture system), along with-up to-date animation production software (Dragon, After Affects) and film editing software (Final Cut Pro), participants will complete a series of animation exercises performed in various animation techniques, including: classic paper animation, sand, cutout, paint on glass, scratch on film and object animation. Students will generate a few seconds of work in each form, as well as create a short animated piece of their own, that demonstrates their understanding of fundamental animation techniques and the creative use of the medium. During the last class session student work will be screened for students and guests, and will be available online soon after.
Examples of current student work can be found at my Vimeo page, Animations by My Students, http://vimeo.com/user5527248/videos/page:3/sort:newest.
with Ajay Kapur
This course provides an introduction to object-oriented programming and introductory concepts of computer science through music composition. ChucK, a strongly timed computer music language, will be introduced. An overview of general programming concepts including types, arrays, control structures, classes and objects will be presented. MultiThreaded Architecture for artistic expression will also be discussed. Each student will present a final project that demonstrates how ChucK can be used in writing a short composition.
with Donna Brown
This course introduces students to the basic functions of the Printlab and the process of silk screening. The Primary focus of this course is to design and produce a professional grade poster. We will focus on proper techniques that students can use in their professional artistic practice. This course will consist of demonstrations, assigned projects and informal one-on-one critiques of the students’ work. The last week of class will be for completion of work assigned during the session, and to meet with the instructor to look at the progression of each student’s work.
with Michael Darling
AutoCAD is one of the most important software applications for computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting in both 2-D and 3 D. A highly versatile application it is used by many industries for a variety of different purposes. This interdisciplinary course is designed to allow students to acquire skills that can be used in multiple arenas: architectural, industrial and technical design and drafting, as well as engineering. Although there are versions specific to different industries, basic AutoCAD is the most robust, comprehensive and adaptable of CAD software. The goals of this course are not only to teach the language of AutoCAD, but to give students the skills and fluency to use the application as a design tool, sketchpad, and fabrication tool for solving technical problems prior to tangible construction—before any material is purchased or cut. In addition to being a sought-after skill, proficiency in AutoCAD gives designers and artists a new, unprecedented level of flexibility in realizing challenging technical projects.
with Leslie Tamaribuchi
This class is designed to familiarize artists with fundraising strategies and techniques that may be used to promote their own art practice or may be utilized professionally in support of other individuals or organizations. Students will be introduced to a variety of practical concerns of funding projects, both commercial and not-for-profit. Course work will focus on fundraising skills (e.g., research, writing, and presentation skills) critical to seeking grants from funding agencies or investments from individuals or organizations.