Special Topics for Fall 2014

Special Topics 

Please note: this page will be updated as information is confirmed. In case of a discrepancy between this page and InsideEC, the information on InsideEC will be deemed correct.

  • Additional information on these courses is available at https://inside.ecuad.ca
  • Most credit courses have prerequisites that are clearly outlined on the website.

Fall 2015

HUMN 311 F090 - Visual Art Seminar (3)

Online Course, Fall 2015

Instructor: Daphne Plessner

Topic: Going Viral: Art as Circulation, Intervention, Investigation
What can art do? This online academic course (paired with the studio course VAST310 F001) assesses the social and cultural expectation for art to ‘do’ more than stage or present a personal, private aesthetic experience. The course introduces students to artists' projects that engage with the aesthetic dimension of social and political issues and concerns (Critical Art Ensemble and Yes Men are well known examples) and examines how strategies of  ‘circulation’, ‘intersection’ and ‘intervention’ are realized in public places and settings. The course content includes lectures, selected readings, discussions, videos etc. that outlines topics such as ‘intervention’, ‘dialogue’, ‘’circulationism’ and ‘aesthetic journalism’.  This course will also provide an opportunity for students to write their own research paper (in the form of a contextual study or a report) that is linked to the creation of their own interventionist art projects (as developed in the studio course VAST310-F001).

PHOT 306 F040 – Special Topics in Photography (3)

Wednesdays, 9am – 3:50pm, Fall 2015

Instructor: Sandra Semchuk

Topic: How do we tell story in an age of information using photography?

Story can locate both teller and recipient in the transitional experience of coming to know. Where we come to know, how, when and with whom, are questions that lead towards the authorship of our own lives – those stories that constitute living immediate culture. This course will place the photographic stories of its participants in the center of the group's inquiry. Participants will develop their skills to make photographs, edit, sequence, and work with a range of non-linear narrative structures and forms including the use of text. Relationships between oral, written and the photographic will be experienced and investigated. Both individual and collaborative projects are included. This course aims to create a learning community based on telling story through photographs that includes learners from diverse cultural, economic and geographic backgrounds.

VAST 310 F001 - Visual Arts: Special Topics (3)

Wednesdays, 8:30am – 11:20am, Fall 2015

Instructor: Daphne Plessner

Topic: Going Viral: Art as Circulation, Intervention, Investigation
This studio course (paired with the online academic course HUMN311 F090) expands the opportunity and possibility for students to create artwork that directly intervenes, or is installed, or circulates (either online or offline) in the public sphere and/or public spaces and places. This includes making artworks by experimenting with interventionist strategies and installing or assembling art works in relation to specific social, political and/or cultural themes and topics (as researched in HUMN311 F090). The course will explore making and disseminating artworks in the form of printed matter (posters, flyers etc.), experimenting with online software and digital circulation and orchestrating investigative and participatory events and installations. The course draws on the readings and discussion in HUMN311 F090 to inspire and contextualize the student's studio art projects. These two courses together explore a range of artistic approaches to interventionist art and contextualizes the impulse for art to ‘act.’

VAST 320 F001U & VAST 420 F001U - Visual Arts Thematic I + II (6)

Tuesdays, 12:30pm – 6:40pm, Fall 2015

Instructor: Ingrid Koenig

Topic: Black Holes and Other Entanglements in the Studio

This interdisciplinary studio course uses science as a lens through which to view and speak about the current world and invisible forces of the known universe, and interacts with these perspectives in the context of art practice. Students investigate and experiment with conceptual and material transformations that arise from being inspired, informed and mystified by phenomena in physics and other probing areas. The breadth of scientific fields to be encountered will depend on students’ individual research interests, while weekly topics address themes such as quantum particle behavior, biology and new materialism. The narrative of science contextualized in human experience, the abstract, embodied, misinterpreted, the complex rhizome, construction of knowledge, play of metaphor, connectivity, uncertainty, energy transformation, entropy, chaos theory, dark matter – these are all subjects for studio entanglements.

Students will participate in the Artist-in-Residence Program at TRIUMF, (Laboratory for Particle and Nuclear Physics with its cyclotron particle accelerator). They will also have a studio day at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum. Other studio workshops (such as soft shop) may be organized depending on students’ overall interests.

Summer 2015

AHIS 333 SU01 – Interdisciplinary Forums (3)

Mondays and Wednesdays, 1:00pm– 4:10pm Summer 2015 (Term 2)

Instructor: Phil Smith

Topic: Popular Culture and Art / Design / Media  (2015 Mix)

This course will look at the sometimes uneasy and constantly shifting relationship between art/design/media practices and popular culture as a whole from two symbiotic perspectives: the first, an examination of the evolution of the historical and theoretical concepts and contexts of the almost century-long interplay between “serious” artistic endeavours and popular/mass culture, an interplay often referred to as “the tension between high and low”; the second, a practice-oriented focus as to where emerging artists and other creative practitioners might position themselves within the contemporary world of popular culture (including its increasing emphasis on digital delivery systems), a positioning that will be considered from both a process and a professional practice standpoint.

These perspectives will be explored through the course readings, screenings, and lectures (including a number of guest speakers) as well as in the seminars that follow each lecture. Possible fields and mediums to be addressed over the course of the term include movies, television, comics, animation, video games, popular music, advertising, and professional sports.

CCID 200 SU01A and CCID 300 SU01A – Community Projects (3)

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:00am – 11:50am Summer 2015 (Term 2)

Instructor: Holly Schmidt

Topic: Food Justice

In the last decade there’s been a proliferation of interest in food systems and increased participation in the struggle for “food justice”. This term encompasses efforts to challenge and reform current food systems, ensure equitable access to food, and create links to related issues of poverty, labour and immigration. Many contemporary artists and collectives such as Claire Pentecost, Conflict Kitchen, Fallen Fruit, and Future Farmers are responding to these pressing issues by advocating for change and creating alternatives through creative practice.

This course will explore local and global food justice issues from a classroom located at Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House (located at Broadway, near Fraser Street). Sitting on the border of East and West Vancouver this area has a complex history and rapidly changing future due to the pressures of gentrification. Ripe with food related initiatives from community gardens, farmers markets, communal dinners and independent grocers and restaurants, this neighborhood provides a compelling context to explore and engage with local food systems and initiatives to change them. This exploration will frequently take us out of the classroom for walks, field trips, and meetings with community members and local experts.

Taking up artist and educator Pablo Helguera’s “Education for Socially Engaged Art Handbook,” this course is an opportunity to consider the role of the artist in socially engaged art and explore methods for participation and collaboration through the creation of individual and collective socially engaged art projects focused on food issues.

HUMN 305 SU90 – Studies in the Humanities (3)

Online, Spring 2015 (Term 1)

Instructor: Aaron Peck

Topic: How does a .gif speak?: Words and Pictures in Contemporary Art

This course titled "How does a .gif speak?: Words and Pictures in Contemporary Art" will look at critical writing about contemporary picture-based art practices, focusing on theories of the relationship between words and images, cinema, photographic and painterly practices, and new emergent kinds of digital art. Each week, we will read two texts together, and you will be expected to propose and reseach on an artist of your choice, relating to the themese and approaches of the course. All films, photography, and digtial artworks will be recommended, not assigned; but in tandem to the readings, we will be looking at filmmakers such as Jean-Luc Godard, Kathryn Bigelow, Chantal Akerman, Chris Marker, and Pedro Costa, artists such as Andy Warhol, Keren Cytter, Stan Douglas, Ursala Meyer, Barbara Krueger, Ed Atkins, Corin Sworn, Jordan Wolfson, Tacita Dean, and Christopher Williams. Writers, theorists and art historians assigned will include Jacques Ranciere, Susan Howe, Janet Malcolm, Andre Bazin, Lynne Tillman, Jeff Wall, Volter Pantenburg, John Kelsey, Villem Flusser, Laura Mulvey, David Campany, and others.

HUMN 306 SU01 – Studies in Humanities: Design (3)

Mondays and Wednesdays, 9:00am – 11:50am Summer 2015 (Term 2)

Instructor: Jeffrey Swartz

Topic: From Design Criticism to Critical Design

This course engages criticism in contemporary design from complementary perspectives: while design criticism is about design, critical design emerges through design. Drawing on historical and theoretical references, the course also develops applied exercises in design criticism—writing—and critical design—production with critical intent. 

The idea of criticism about design is familiar, usually taking the form of written texts in magazines, journals and blogs. Yet it is also an idea in crisis, as many experts claim. Is design criticism really necessary for design to advance? If so, what tools do we need to think and write critically about it?

Criticism through design, identified by British duo Dunne & Raby as critical design, responds to the idea that design knowledge is acquired and advanced in real practice within the project. Even while addressing the demands of the commission, client or user, it wraps itself in further layers of meaning. Since it addresses other designers and professionals and seeks to provoke, it is a form of meta-design: critical design is loaded.

Historical examples, such as 1960s Italian radical design or Western design ideas in the developing world (Allende’s Chile), help illuminate the idea. Contemporary examples of critical design (Jurgen Bey, Martí Guixé, Natalie Jeremijenko) as well as critiques of the movement’s political and social biases, are taken into account. Finally, design criticism and critical design invite us to consider recent studies on the political and social status of design, including debates on sustainability and design activism.

This historical, theoretical and practical course is meant for students of all design disciplines and has crossover interest for students of art and media.

HUMN 311 SU01 – Visual Art Seminar (3)

Mondays and Wednesdays, 9:00am – 11:50am Summer 2015 (Term 1)

Instructor: Cameron Cartiere

Topic: Assembly: Walking to Portland

In this particular course we will consider the art of social practice, study its varying methodologies and philosophies, and experiment with our observations in the studio. It is also a unique opportunity to attend and be involved in the 2015 Assembly at Portland University. Assembly is a five-day event featuring presentations, discussions, interventions, performances, and activities addressing and exploring topics related to art and social practice. The wide variety of public events are organized and curated by PSU Art and Social Practice MFA faculty, students, and alumni as well as invited partners, both individuals and institutions. Venues will include various locations on the PSU campus and surrounding neighborhoods. A newspaper, poster series, and digital information will create a formalized framework that the semi-autonomous activities exist within. All events are all free and open to anyone who would like to attend. Participation in the course requires attendance at Assembly. Students will be responsible for the cost of their food, transport and accommodation in Portland from May 27-31. 

This HUMN 311 seminar is an intensive bridge for developing long-term a social practice. It is an active opportunity to put ideas into action under the guidance of two public art and social practice experts. Students will unpack a wide range of methodologies within the field, undertake their own studio research, and produce projects (or project concepts) to be presented at the 2015 Assembly at Portland University.

HUMN 311 SU02 – Visual Art Seminar (3)

Mondays and Wednesdays, 1:00pm – 3:50pm Summer 2015 (Term 1)

Instructor: Phil Smith

Topic: Art Practices and Popular Music

 “The Beatles have had a bigger influence on me than Picasso.”                  

-Damien Hirst, 2009

From Piet Mondrian’s affinity for “boogie-woogie” music to Jackson Pollock’s preferred studio soundtrack of jazz, from the music/art fusion of the punk rock scene of the 1970s to Jeff Koons’s 2013 CD cover for Lady Gaga and Damien Hirst’s mini-manifesto above, visual art and popular music have long had a particularly close and often symbiotic relationship. Accordingly, this course will explore a number of song-writers, performers, and artists who exemplify this cross-pollination of disciplines with regard to three convergent aspects in particular: the inter-related concepts of process, performance, and persona.

By looking at popular music from both a historical/aesthetic and a creative/process perspective, we will also focus on the collaborative and collective aspects of popular music from the Broadway musicals and blues of the 1920s to today’s digital and post-genre musical landscape, as well as the ways in which strategies of music making (and marketing) may continue to inform a contemporary art practice. Reflecting the content and approach of the course, assignments and projects will range from the written to the audio and/or visual.

Please note:  no prior musical background or knowledge is needed for this course. This section will count towards the Art + Text minor.

HUMN 311 SU90 – Visual Art Seminar (3)

Online, Spring 2015

Instructor: Jay White

Topic: Entangled Ecologies - Rethinking “Nature” Through Bodily Experience 

Through self-directed projects, readings, written assignments and online discussions, we will re-examine the idea of “nature” by deeply interrogating the complex relationships between humans and other lively things. A focus on embodied and participatory methods will invite students to explore new terrain in their own work by expanding their practices into the world beyond the studio.

Course topics are based around the instructor’s own practice, and will be supported by historical and contemporary practices that deal with notions of nature and ecology. Topics covered will include walking, tracking and camping; animation and animacy; participatory ethics and working with other animals; trespassing, nature-culture boundaries and the abundant Commons; animals on video: surveillance, counter-surveillance, and more-than-human power relationships; the agency of matter; and embodied ways of knowing.

Through studio work, we will look at the materials and media we use in our own practices, and their implications from an animate, more-than-human perspective. This online course uses the virtual medium to explore and critically assess the ways that embodied, sensory and participatory experiences can be translated through traditional and technological media. How does participatory practice, performance-based work, embodied engagement, and the transitory experience of being-in-the-world translate to the virtual realm?