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The Department of Visual and Environmental Studies and Satire V Present: Spring 2013 Courses

Of the following courses, some have been offered by the VES department; others are the invention of Satire V. Think you can spot the difference? Answers at the end.

Sculpture Backwards

Studio Course. The issues that will be addressed include gravity, negative space, the primitive, the metric expansion of space, and attendance to the periphery of an artwork. Activities will include reverse shoplifting, bodyweight exercises, seeking examples of that which Marcel Duchamp called the infrathin, and drawing. So-called sculptures will be produced, sometimes with great effort, and sometimes by accident.

Baggage: Studio Course 

Engaging personal and public notions of authorship, veracity, legibility, history and value, this class focuses on exploration and performance in collecting. Students will examine possibilities and patterns to understand choice, advice, intuition and peculiarity with the goal of better communication. Sources include information distribution models, history, exhibitions in and out of art contexts and a focus on comfort. This will aid students in investigations into personal and collaborative projects employing a variety of media, methods and modes.

Consuming Art 

We now live in an era of unprecedented consumerism. Billboards, t-shirts, gourmet food – never before has so much art been made just to be thrown away or consumed. In order to combat this rising tide, we will put our own spin on art consumption. We will experiment with art built around this conceit of ‘consumption’, with pieces made of edible play-dough, ingredients purchased from a local grocery, and other non-toxic materials. Students will spend the semester making pieces in response to this consumerist culture, and at the end we will all be responsible for eating each other’s work.

Video en Valise: an Eclectronic Modus Operandi: Intermediate Studio Course 

With the increasing sophistication of cheap and accessible image-manipulation software, the video medium is fast reaching the point where high-end results are available to everybody at high street prices. With self-reference as frame we will explore its aesthetic validity as externalizing mirror-therapy of the iconic. By the end of the course each student should be able to make Hollywood lookalikes on a Powerbook in the time between the initial sensation of waking and the first spoonful of porridge. Whilst we will screen and analyze work from a variety of areas, this is expected to be a hands-on course. Bring you own angst, iconoclasm, and virtual green card.

Visual Dubstep: A Studio Course

The same characteristics that make dubstep such an appealing and influential musical genre – syncopated rhythms, “wobble bass”, and the drop – can be applied just as well to visual art. In this painting-centric class, students will experiment with oscillating patterns and dramatic shifts in style mid-canvas, as well as other dubstep-inspired techniques. Music will be played during all studio hours, though the instructor would like to assure students that not all dubstep is as aggressive or intrusive as Final Clubs may have led them to believe.

Painting, Smoking, Eating 

Titled after Phillip Guston, this course has two agendas: technical assignments that improve your ability to move paint around, and laying conceptual groundwork for personal projects. One task of an artist is to have a relationship with a world. We will discuss the social role of artists and the boundaries between interior and exterior discourse, with an emphasis on artists' writing, both critical and self-reflexive, treating self-expression as well as abnegation: auteurs, flaneurs, ventriloquists.

Video and Meta-Video 

Projects like “Hearts of Darkness” have proved the power of filmmaking about filmmaking, but the form and its technique remain largely unexplored. Half of the class will be assigned documentary subjects around Cambridge to study in a short video. These students will be the subjects of shorts created by the other half, who will use the process of video-making to study its own processes, insecurities, and limitations. Extensive discussion of technical feedback problems as a metaphor for the artistic process will round out the end of our semester.


Acts of theft, borrowing, imitation, and plagiarism define our world. In this class, the inmates have taken over the asylum. Citation is criminal, a failure to acknowledge theft as a genuinely creative act. We will pillage the works of other artists and break through the boundaries of homage. Finally, we will draft letters accusing other artists of having stolen our work.

Internet and Architecture

This project-oriented seminar purports to give a basic orientation to these fundamental changes and the implications of new internet-based concepts (e.g. cyberspace, virtual communities and electronic marketplaces) on the architecture of buildings. The seminar consists of case-based discussions and a final project in which new designs of physical/virtual spaces - the epitomes of the new networked environment - will be developed and prototyped.

 Post-Studio Studio 

Nomadic, laptop-based methods of producing and exhibiting art have rendered the traditional studio increasingly marginal to many art practices. How do artists function in, and address, this expanded field for both the production and reception of art? A production-based course that will take place in and around the studio. Media will shift by project but some drawing and scheming will be constant.

Quanta and Techne: Implications of the New Science for the Art World 

If someone looks at a piece of art, does it change? 85 years ago, Physicist Werner Heisenberg proposed that observing a particle can affect its ‘reality’ – a conclusion we in the art world are still struggling to make sense of today. In this class we’ll talk about multivalency, superpositions, and undecidibility in both art and science. By the end, hopefully, students will see new meaning in the old saying “If a tree falls in the woods and there is no one to hear it, does it make a sound?”


Can there be art to a dictionary? Are words and parts of speech art? Need all dictionaries be arranged alphabetically? The dictionary writer must take on the role of tyrant, and decide what goes in or stays out, what typeface will be employed. Students will assume this role. 


Real Classes Offered by the VES Department: Sculpture Backwards; Baggage; Video en Valise; Painting, Smoking, Eating; Internet and Architecture; and Post-Studio Studio

© 2013