this is not an online course

Course Syllabus - AVT 483: Art and Interactivity

Professor: Mark Cooley
Spring 2010

Text | Networked Performance | Turbulence |

Internet Art (World of Art) by Rachel Greene, Publisher - Thames, Hudson.  Find it @, or choose your own bookseller.

Strategies and Goals

The course will serve to develop student sophistication in the creation and critique of visual culture in the context of New Media Art with particular focus on networked art practices. In this class students will extend their current abilities in conceptualizing, making and critiquing works of art to studying how art can be created, disseminated and patronized as a networked activity. While much of the class production will take place online, we will investigate offline networked aesthetic activity and look at 20th century historical precedents for networked and internet art practices.

Successful students will:
develop a familiarity with the work of artists and theorists who are working in the context of internet art, media and networked culture;
demonstrate a thoughtful/creative understanding of various computer applications in the process of making meaningful works of art;
demonstrate a working understanding of techniques for critical evaluation of art works in the context of digital/visual culture and New Media Art practice.

Course Requirements

Projects: Students will complete a series of visual projects requiring thoughtful/creative use of concepts, methods and tools appropriate to specific project parameters. Projects will generally be composed of several steps involving research, production and display and/or distribution and project statement. Student success on all steps of a project will be considered when determining a final project grade.

Student blog: Students will be asked to keep a blog throughout the course.  It will include:
1. Projects and accompanying research and statements.
2. A series of text responses to assigned course readings reflecting an ability to communicate an understanding of key points.
3. A weekly blog entry reporting on a work of internet art - including detailed description and thoughtful response.

Critical participation: Individual and group discussions / critiques will be held periodically while projects are in the works. Final project critiques will be held at the beginning of class on project due dates and will last for the entire class session. All students are expected to participate in an informed dialogue concerning the work presented before the class. It is very important that the class develop a trust whereby students can openly and honestly criticize one another and likewise defend each others work while remaining respectful and professional. Students are expected to take criticisms seriously (but not necessarily personally) and incorporate responses to them into future work.

Attendance, Deadlines, Work habits: Attendance is very important. Only completely unavoidable circumstances should prevent students from missing class. Absent students are responsible for getting all missed information (preferably from other students) and completing projects on time. Students who fall behind as a result of absences are expected to see me during office hours. It is your responsibility to schedule a meeting with me. I will not spend class time going over previously covered material for students whose absences have caused them to fall behind. Students who make a habit of being unprepared and/or missing class will not likely pass this course. It is very important to meet deadlines. Projects are to be finished and ready for presentation at the beginning of class on the day they are due. Late projects will be lowered one letter grade for each class day they are overdue. Healthy work habits in-and-outside of the classroom are extremely important. Successful students will spend a minimum of 6 hours a week, outside of normal classroom time, working for this course.


Students will be given one grade for each art project (including all stages of project development).  In addition, there will be a midterm and a final grade given for student blogs. All grades will be given equal value and averaged together at the end of the semester to obtain a final grade. It is understood that students tend to enter classes such as this with varying technical abilities. Although students will be required to display competence in operating the appropriate tools, students who display only technical prowess without regards to how their projects function as art will not receive favorable grades. In other words, this is an art course not a software tips and tricks course. This is not a course in how to use software without regard for the context of contemporary Art. The course is taught as a traditional studio art course - except the material, rather than being clay or pigment, is pixels and electronic data objects. The focus is on art making, and the assignments reflect this mind set. Students who simply wish to construct an electronic portfolio, personal web or straight up e-commerce sites will find that those interests are not addressed and do not fit within the context of this course. Students will be expected to verbalize and write about their work in terms of how their images re-present their desires and solutions to the problems proposed in course assignments. Project grades are figured using previous and current class performance as a measure, but also importantly considering individual strengths, weaknesses and overall student growth.

A   Work that demonstrates an excellent understanding of relevant tools and concepts by creatively, knowledgeably and thoroughly dealing with project parameters and project resources. Work that is accompanied by a critique where the student successfully communicates his/her intentions and provides meaningful justification for creative decisions.

B   Work that demonstrates a knowledgeable and creative understanding of relevant tools and concepts accompanied by well stated intentions during critique.

C   Work that satisfactorily meets the requirements of the project and displays adequate know-how in the appropriate conceptual and technical tools.

D   Work that may or may not meet the minimum requirements of the project, yet is unsatisfactory, usually as a result of a lack of commitment on the part of the student to articulate his/her ideas and/or expand his/her vocabulary and know-how.

F   Work that does not fulfill the requirements of the assignment, excessively late, and/or work that displays very little effort and interest.


An appropriate personal data storage device
A digital camera & digital video camera
Output Materials (and costs) as needed

Important University Dates and Deadlines

GMU Academic Calendar

Once the add and drop deadlines have passed, instructors do not have the authority to approve requests from students to add or drop/withdraw late. Requests for late adds (up until the last day of classes) must be made by the student  in the School of Art office (or the office of the department offering the course), and generally are only approved in the case of a documented university error (such as a problem with financial aid being processed). Requests for non-elective withdrawals and retroactive adds  (adds after the last day of classes) must be approved by the academic dean of the college in which the student’s major is located. For AVT/School of Art majors, that is the CVPA Office of Academic Affairs, Performing Arts Building A407.

Important School of Art Dates

The dates for this fall’s ArtsBus trips are September 25, October 23, November 13.
- If you need ArtsBus credit for this semester, you MUST enroll in AVT 300  (CRN 72362, 72363, 72364) before September 14, 2010.  Anyone who intends to travel to New York independently, or do the DC Alternate Assignment for credit MUST enroll in AVT 300. There will be NO exceptions. If you need multiple AVT 300 credits this semester, you must enroll in multiple sections of AVT 300. Please go to the ArtsBus website: "Student Information" for additional, very important information regarding ArtsBus policy.

Visual Voices Lecture Series
Visual Voices is a year-long series of lectures by artists, art historians and other art professionals that enriches the School of Art curriculum. Visual Voices lectures are held on Thursday evenings from 7:30- 9:00 p.m. in Harris Theater.  The fall schedule includes four lectures:
September 30, 2010: Julie Belcher and Kevin Bradley, “Yee-Haw Industries, 32 Flavors of Gravy”
October 14, 2010: Enrique Chagoya, “Illegal Aliens Guide to Reverse Anthropology”
October 21, 2010: John Carson, “TimeLines”
December 2, 2010: John Mason, “ Art and Law”

University and School of Art Policies

As a courtesy to others in the class, and in accordance with George Mason University policy, please turn off all beepers, cellular telephones and other wireless communication devices at the start of class. The instructor of the class will keep his/her cell phone active to assure receipt of any Mason Alerts in a timely fashion; or in the event that the instructor does not have a cell phone, he/she will designate one student to keep a cell phone active to receive such alerts.

Commitment to Diversity
This class will be conducted as an intentionally inclusive community that celebrates diversity and welcomes the participation in the life of the university of faculty, staff and students who reflect the diversity of our plural society. All may feel free to speak and to be heard without fear that the content of the opinions they express will bias the evaluation of their academic performance or hinder their opportunities for participation in class activities. In turn, all are expected to be respectful of each other without regard to race, class, linguistic background, religion, political beliefs, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, veteran’s status, or physical ability.

Statement on Ethics in Teaching and Practicing Art and Design
As professionals responsible for the education of undergraduate and graduate art and design students, the faculty of the School of Art adheres to the ethical standards and practices incorporated in the professional Code of Ethics of our national accreditation organization, The National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

Open Studio Hours
School of Art teaching studios are open to students for extended periods of time mornings, evenings and weekends whenever classes are not in progress. Policies, procedures and schedules for studio use are established by the AVT studio faculty and are posted in the studios.

Students with Disabilities and Learning Differences
If you have a diagnosed disability or learning difference and you need academic accommodations, please inform me at the beginning of the semester and contact the Disabilities Resource Center (SUB I room 234, 703-993-2474).  You must provide me with a faculty contact sheet from that office outlining the accommodations needed for your disability or learning difference. All academic accommodations must be arranged in advance through the DRC.

Official Communications via GMU E-Mail
Mason uses electronic mail to provide official information to students. Examples include communications from course instructors, notices from the library, notices about academic standing, financial aid information, class materials, assignments, questions, and instructor feedback. Students are responsible for the content of university communication sent to their Mason e-mail account, and are required to activate that account and check it regularly.

Attendance Policies
Students are expected to attend the class periods of the courses for which they register. In-class participation is important not only to the individual student, but also to the class as a whole. Because class participation may be a factor in grading, instructors may use absence, tardiness, or early departure as de facto evidence of nonparticipation. Students who miss an exam with an acceptable excuse may be penalized according to the individual instructor's grading policy, as stated in the course syllabus.

Honor Code
Students in this class are bound by the Honor Code, as stated in the George Mason University Catalog. The honor code requires that the work you do as an individual be the product of your own individual synthesis or integration of ideas. (This does not prohibit collaborative work when it is approved by your instructor.) As a faculty member, I have an obligation to refer the names of students who may have violated the Honor Code to the Student Honor Council, which treats such cases very seriously.

No grade is important enough to justify cheating, for which there are serious consequences that will follow you for the rest of your life. If you feel unusual pressure about your grade in this or any other course, please talk to me or to a member of the GMU Counseling Center staff.

Using someone else’s words or ideas without giving them credit is plagiarism, a very serious Honor Code offense. It is very important to understand how to prevent committing plagiarism when using material from a source. If you wish to quote verbatim, you must use the exact words and punctuation just as the passage appears in the original and must use quotation marks and page numbers in your citation. If you want to paraphrase or summarize ideas from a source, you must put the ideas into your own words, and you must cite the source, using the APA or MLA format. (For assistance with documentation, I recommend Diana Hacker, A Writer’s Reference.) The exception to this rule is information termed general knowledge—information that is widely known and stated in a number of sources. Determining what is general knowledge can be complicated, so the wise course is, “When in doubt, cite.” 

Be especially careful when using the Internet for research. Not all Internet sources are equally reliable; some are just plain wrong. Also, since you can download text, it becomes very easy to inadvertently plagiarize. If you use an Internet source, you must cite the exact URL in your paper and include with it the last date that you successfully accessed the site.

A note on art and digital technologies:
Digital technologies are particularly suited to copy, sample, or appropriate, mash etc. previously created content. Many artists (visual, audio and literary) have used these techniques quite successfully in order to parody, celebrate or otherwise comment on cultural icons and what they represent. As a class, we will discuss techniques such as these and their relevance to copyright law and the university honor code, but as a rule students should always be up-front and honest with the class and professor as to what visual content has been sampled and how it has been manipulated or rearranged in any given project. Failure to do so will be considered a honor code violation.

Writing Center
Students who are in need of intensive help with grammar, structure or mechanics in their writing should make use of the services of  Writing Center, located in Robinson A116 (703-993-1200). The services of the Writing Center are available by appointment, online and, occasionally, on a walk-in basis.