I have the benefit of teaching at an institution that actively supports the symbiotic relationship between faculty's studio practice and the course material. I enjoy the chance to revisit the foundations of studio practice in core classes, and the opportunity to develop and share new ideas in advanced special topic courses. These are the descriptions of course that I have recently taught, taken from class documents. If you are interested in any of these classes, as a student, faculty, or otherwise, feel free to contact me; I am happy to share resources and thoughts on these subjects.
- Digital Fabrication
Digital fabrication practices have revolutionized design and manufacturing, and are literally reshaping the world around us. Increasingly these tools are being employed by artist to create works heretofore impossible or impractical to make. This class will be an exploration of computer-aided modes of fabrication and their integration into contemporary art and object making. A strong emphasis of this course will be technical training on the laser cutters, 3D printers, and CNC routers in MICA’s Digital Fabrication Studio. We will also spend a considerable amount of time working in CAD and CAM software, with a particular emphasis on Rhinoceros. We will also examine the affect of this technology on our understanding of space and material, the structure of our economy and modes of production, and other social and philosophical considerations.
- The Object of Networks
From everyday exchanges on Facebook to ambiguous fears of Al‐Qaeda, we live in an era that seems to be dominated by networks. This course examines the "object of networks" in two separate but related senses. We will consider the purpose of various networks and examine how they function. It is said that networked systems offer liberating alternatives to authoritarian power structures. In many ways this is true, and we will explore strategies whereby this approach and related technologies can be employed by artists. However, we will not settle for naïve clichés about freedom and networks, and will investigate the complex ways in which power is exercised in and via these complex systems.
In the second sense of the title, this course will also examine the object as it exists and functions within networks. Post‐modernity has moved us away from monolithic autonomous sculpture, and indicated that sculptural objects gain meaning from the historical, cultural, spatial, and social networks in which they exist. This proposition can also be inverted. Thinkers such as Bruno Latour suggest that objects are actually active agents within these networks and help to sculpt society, culture, space, and history. Our aim will be to employ a developed understanding of how objects function in this sense in order to create sculptural projects that attain a uniquely dynamic presence in the world.
This course will be academically rigorous; reading and discussion will play a very prominent role. However, this is most certainly a studio course, and there will be multiple projects where students will be making objects. The concept of "objects" will be interrogated and expanded throughout the course, and a wide variety of media will be encouraged and supported. It is important to note that we will be employing concepts that are both advanced and subtle. This requires the work be created with technical skills, formal sensitivity, and attention to detail that matches. Because this is an advanced class, the assignments will not be narrowly scripted. Rather, each student will be responsible for processing the concepts covered in class, conducting independent research, and successfully employing these ideas in their sculpture. Class instruction will support these goals and help each student create works that are meaningful to that artist and that speak articulately about contemporary situations.
- Reading list:
- Linked, Albert-László Barabási (selection)
- The Thing, Martin Heidegger
- The System of Objects, Jean Baudrilliard (selection)
- Reassembling the Social, Bruno Latour (selection)
- The Gay Science, Friedrich Nietzsche (selection)
- Two Lectures, Michel Foucault
- What is an Apparatus?, Giorgio Agamben
- The Human Use of Human Beings, Norbert Weiner (selection)
- Postscript on the Societies of Control, Gilles Deleuze
- The Exploit, Alexander Galloway and Eugene Thacker (selection)
- Introduction to Sculpture
We have several learning objectives that we will be addressing in this class, and you will be expected to work simultaneously on these multiple fronts throughout the course. Through demonstrations, exercises, and projects, we will learn about various sculptural media including woodworking, metal fabrication, and casting. Attention and discussion will be devoted to advancing formal sensibilities. We will also be working on conceptual development, with a focus on uniting theory and practice into a fruitful symbiotic relationship.
We will move through the course with a series of "case studies." For each project, we will have a reading or series of texts that presents a certain philosophical perspective of the world. We will focus primarily on theories of ontology, which is the study of existence. Each author will present a particular view of the world and, beyond that, particular ideas of what constitutes "the world." Because sculpture is largely a practice of making things in, from, and about the world, there should be a fairly direct relationship between these theories and the practice of sculpture.
Our goal will not be to make sculpture that simply illustrates these ideas. Rather, our objective will be to understand and adopt (if just temporarily) each philosophical view and then create work from this perspective. It is in this sense that we will unify concept and form.
We will connect these philosophical readings to the work of some sculptors who have played important roles in the history of art. We look at how these artists conceive of their art, relate to their materials, construct their work, and present it to the public. We will use these case studies to inform each of our projects - very directly in the beginning and more loosely as the course progresses. We will combine this knowledge with our practice, and continue thinking and developing our concepts through the process of making.
- Reading list:
- The Republic, Book X, Plato
- Tractatus Logico-Philisophicus, Ludwig Wittgenstein (selection)
- Building Dwelling Thinking, Martin Heidegger
- The Un/making of Sculpture, Hal Foster
- The Gay Science, Friedrich Nietzsche (short selections)
- Truth and Power (interview), Michel Foucault
- Simulacra and Simulations, Jean Baudrilliard
- Fabrication Technology
Integral to the process of designing objects, furniture, or buildings, are the material qualities that shape the image, feel, and strength of the finished work. Equipped with an intimate working knowledge of materials, the environmental designer can fully exploit the character, condition, and potential of the material choice. With this hands-on knowledge of material properties, the designer is free to innovate, integrating material knowledge with the conceptual design process. This three- credit studio is composed of a series of technical workshops in woodworking, metal fabrication, mold making, and 3D digital output. It is accompanied by assignments that deal with the processes of making and their imprint on the work, as well as conversations and readings that help connect materiality to a conceptually based approach to design.
Through demonstrations and hands-on practice, students will learn techniques with a variety of materials. Through this direct experience, you will learn about the nature of each material and how you can utilize its unique qualities in the class projects and beyond. You will get dirty and you will be working with your hands; this does not mean that you will be using your mind any less than in other courses. In fact, you will be challenged to think in new ways. You must learn how to think through materials. Furthermore, we will expand the way that you think to incorporate more than just your mind. You will learn haptically, and then draw upon this proprioceptive knowledge and phenomenological experience, as you work and design.
This course will be challenging in multiple ways, but if you are committed, you will find the work to be stimulating in as many ways. This work will take commitment. You will be building craft-based skills, which are typically developed over the course of considerable time and though many failures. The dedication to get something right (and this does not necessarily mean perfect) is a habit hard earned but a virtue that separates the passable from the great.
- Sculptural Kinetics
This course offers students a technical and conceptual introduction to the movement of sculptural form. Intensive hands-on work is balanced with theory-driven discussion, contextualizing the development of thoughtful, nuanced kinetic works that transcend sheer technical accomplishment.
Studio work will emphasize the hands-on development of a working vocabulary for generating and translating movement. Beginning with simple machines, the class will progress into more complex means of harnessing and controlling energy and motion. Students will also learn basic electronics theory and fabrication techniques, enabling them to add a dynamic range of control, autonomy, and responsiveness to their kinetic works.
This course will also serve as a primer of the often-marginalized history of kinetic art practices. Through lectures, screenings, readings, and group discussion, students will examine philosophical, cultural, and artistic theories of motion; critically addressing the evermore complicated role of machines in our daily lives.