Course Syllabus - Issues and Ethics in Digital Culture | Course Outline
Professor: Mark Cooley
NOTICE: This course outline indicates a rough guide to where we are headed. However, additions, subtractions and reorganization of course content is likely. You will be informed of any changes during class meetings. In addition, you should revisit this page routinely. It may be updated throughout the semester.
AVT 000 Issues and Ethics in Digital Culture (1:1:0) Prerequisite: 12 credits of undergraduate work. Intensive introduction to legal, social, and ethical issues of concern to artists, designers and other cultural producers working with the tools and concepts of digital culture.
By the completion of this course, successful students will be able to identify and articulate several key ethical, social and legal issues of concern to artists, designers and other cultural producers working in the context of digital culture.
Course materials and class discussions will consider the following issues and concepts:
- Issues of representation and simulation: A look at digital culture and the (de)construction of reality.
- Questions of authorship and ownership, publicity and privacy: A look at proprietary and non-proprietary digital cultures.
- The role of commercial media: Media ownership, public and private interests and relationship with democratic processes.
- New Media Art sponsorship and questions of autonomy and freedom of expression.
- Consumer culture, technological production and impacts on human and environmental health.
Attendance: Only the most extraordinary circumstances should prevent students from arriving punctually and remaining for the duration of each class meeting. Habitual absenteeism and tardiness will likely result in course failure.
Participation and preparedness: The quality of this class will undoubtedly suffer without active participation from the students. It is each student’s responsibility to come to class prepared and with completed assignments. During the class, students are expected to be attentive and participate in classroom dialogue.
Reading and response: This is a reading and writing intensive course. Each week, students will construct a text summary of assigned course readings and media. Texts should convey the major ideas proposed in the assigned materials and will be evaluated on the student’s ability to articulate her/his comprehension and synthesis of the assigned material.
Evaluations in this course are based on the degree to which students are able to articulate a clear understanding of course materials through written assignments and classroom discussions. Students receive a grade for each week of the course. Each grade includes an evaluation of both assigned and participatory coursework. All grades are averaged together equally at the end of the semester to obtain a final grade. Evaluations are represented with the following letters:
A - represents coursework that articulates an excellent and thorough understanding of course materials.
B - represents coursework that articulates an excellent understanding of the main substance of course materials.
C - represents coursework that articulates a satisfactory understanding of course materials.
D - represents work that poorly articulates course materials.
F - represents work that fails to significantly articulate course materials.
Course readings, video and other materials are made accessible to students through class handouts, e-reserves and websites.
University and Department Policies and Resources:
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 Department of Art and Visual Technology 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).
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 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.
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 approved by your instructor.) As faculty members, we 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.
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.
Academic Calendar: http://registrar.gmu.edu/calendars
Weeks 01 & 02: Believing is Seeing
- Issues of representation and simulation: A look at digital culture and the (de)construction of truth.
- Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, Joseph Kosuth, Richard Prince, Jeff Koons, Sherrie Levine, Situationist Internationale, The Yes men,
Text & Media
- Robins, Kevin. “Will the image still move us.” The Photographic Image in Digital Culture. Ed. Martin Lister. Routledge: London. 1995
Weeks 03 & 04: If you Love Something…
- Questions of authorship and ownership, publicity and privacy: A look at proprietary and non-proprietary digital cultures. Guest lecturers: 1. Nelson Pavlosky, George Mason University’s School of Law and co-founder of Freeculture.org. 2. Casey Rae-Hunter, Communications Director @ Future of Music Coalition.
Artists and Projects
- John Heartfield, William Burroughs, Bruce Conner, Martha Rosler, Dara Birnbaum, Craig Baldwin, Negativland, Kenneth Hung, DJ spooky, Tom Forsythe, Cut-up Collective.
- VisitorsStudio. Furtherfield.org. <http://blog.visitorsstudio.org>.
- Haynes, Todd. Superstar: the Karen Carpenter Story. Video. 1987. <http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=622130510713940545>.
- Creative Commons. <http://creativecommons.org>.
- FreeCulture.org: Students for Free Culture. <http://freeculture.org>.
- Future of Music Coalition. <http://www.futureofmusic.org>.
- Stayfree Magazine. <http://www.stayfreemagazine.org>.
- Illegal Art. <http://www.illegal-art.org>. An exhibition project maintained by Stayfree Magazine. <http://www.stayfreemagazine.org>.
Text & Media
- Lethem, Jonathan. “The ecstasy of influence: A plagiarism.” Harper’s Magazine February 2007. <http://www.harpers.org/archive/2007/02/0081387>.
- Stallman, Richard M. Copyright vs Community in the Age of Computer Networks. Online video, Lecture at University of Waterloo
Question and Answer Audio: <http://www.csclub.uwaterloo.ca/files/rms-qa.ogg>.
- Harvard Law School. Art Law. Image Rights. <http://www.law.harvard.edu/faculty/martin/art_law/image_rights.htm>
- Garnett, Joy. “Painting Mass Media.” Columbia University School of the Arts. New York. 2004 <http://nothing.org/lectures>.
- The American Library Association archive of Copyright Court Cases <http://www.ala.org/ala/washoff/woissues/copyrightb/copyrightcases/copyrightcourt.cfm>.
- Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA): Selected Cases. Electronic Frontier Foundation. <http://w2.eff.org/IP/DRM>.
- Aufderheide, Pat. Jaszi, Peter. “Recut, Reframe, Recycle: Quoting Copyrighted Material in User-Generated Video.” Center for Social Media. American University: Washington DC. http://www.centerforsocialmedia.org/resources/publications/recut_reframe_recycle>. 2007
- Center for Social Media. “Want your questions on Fair Use Answered?” Center for Social Media. American University: Washington DC. <http://www.centerforsocialmedia.org/news/want_your_questions_on_fair_use_answered>.
- Lessig, Lawrence. Free Culture. The Penguin Press. 2004. <http://www.free-culture.cc>. Free Culture Audio Popup book. <http://www.turnstyle.org/FreeCulture>.
- Underneath the Knowledge Commons. Mute Magazine. Vol 2 #1. <http://www.metamute.org/Underneath-the-Knowledge-Commons>.
- Wark, Mackenzie. A Hacker Manifesto. Harvard University Press: Cambridge. 2004.
- Stallman, Richard. "The GNU project and the free software movement." Zagreb. 9 Mar. 2006. <http://fsfeurope.org/documents/rms-fs-2006-03-09.en.html>.
- Stallman, Richard. " Copyright and Globalization in the Age of Computer Networks." MIT. Cambridge. 19 Apr. 2001. <http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/copyright-and-globalization.html>.
- Stallman, Richard. " The Dangers of Software Patents." Irish Free Software Organisation (IFSO). 24 May. 2004. <http://www.ifso.ie/documents/rms-2004-05-24.html>.
- “Hacker Ethics.” Wikipedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacker_ethic>.
Weeks 05 & 06: Manufacturing Consent
- The role of commercial media: A look at media ownership, public and private interests and relationship with democratic processes.
Art & Projects
Text & Media
- Chomsky, Noam. Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda 2nd Edition. Seven Stories Press: New York. 2002.
- Stauber, John. Rampton, Sheldon. Toxic Sludge is Good for You. Common Courage Press: Monroe, Maine. 1995.
- Dominguez, Ricardo. Columbia Art and Technology Lecture. Columbia University: New York. 2004. <http://nothing.org/lectures/index.htm>.
- Chomsky, Noam. Herman, Edward S. Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. Pantheon Books: New York. 1987.
- Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media. Video. Directors, Mark Achbar, Peter Wintonick. 1992. 167 min.
- Knabb, Ken, ed. Situationist International Anthology: Revised and Expanded Edition. AK Press: Oakland CA. 2006. <http://www.bopsecrets.org/cat.htm>.
- Debord, Guy. The Society of the Spectacle. Rebel Press: London. 2005. <http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/debord>.
- Wray, Stefan. “Electronic Civil Disobedience and the World Wide Web of Hacktivism: A Mapping of Extraparliamentarian Direct Action Net Politics.” Switch. V:4, N:2. <http://switch.sjsu.edu/web/v4n2/stefan/index.html>.
- Critical Art Ensemble. “The Technology of Uselessness.” Electronic Civil Disobedience and Other Unpopular Ideas. Autonomedia: New York. 1997. <http://www.critical-art.net/books/index.html>.
Week 07 & 08: Production Values
- From factory to landfill: Technological production and impacts on human and environmental health.
- Larger philosophical questions including: Utopia / dystopia, technological determinism, speed and politics, progress and catastrophe.
Text & Media
Art & Projects
- Smith, Ted, David A. Sonnenfield, and David N. Pellow. Challenging the Chip: Labor Rights and Environment Justice in the Global Electronics Industry. New York University Press: New York and London. 2002.
- Pellow, David. Park Lisa. The Silicon Valley of Dreams: Environmental Injustice, Immigrant Workers, and the High-Tech Global Economy. New York University Press: New York and London. 2002.
- Grossman, Elizabeth. High Tech Trash: Digital devices, hidden toxics, and human health. Washington D.C: Island Press, 2006.
- Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. <http://svtc.etoxics.org. http://svtc.igc.org>.
- Virilio, Paul. Unknown Quantity. Thames and Hudson: New York, London. 2003.
Weeks 09, 10: The Art Buck Stops Here
- The culture industry: A look at arts sponsorship and questions of autonomy and freedom of expression.
Text & Media
- Stevens, Jackie. "Why are biotech companies suddenly sponsoring art about genes.” <http://www.rtmark.com/rockwell.html>. 2000
- Haacke, Hans. "Museums: Managers of Consciousness.” Hans Haacke ed. Hans Haacke: Unfinished Business. (Exhibition Catalogue) The New Museum of Contemporary Art, MIT: New York and Cambridge. 1987
Art & Projects
- Haacke, Hans. MOMA Poll. 1970. Various polling projects 1969-73.
- Haacke, Hans. Shapolsky et al. Manhattan Real Estate Holdings, a Real-time Social System. Hans Haacke. 1971
- Haacke, Hans. On Social Grease. 1975
- Haacke, Hans. Mobilization Hans Haacke. 1975
- Haacke, Hans. MetroMobiltan. 1985
- Guerrilla Girls. Various works. 1980’s - 2007
- Fraser, Andrea. McCollum, Allen. May I Help You. 1991
- Fraser, Andrea. Museum Highlights: A Gallery Talk. 1989
- Haacke, Hans ed. Hans Haacke: Unfinished Business (Exhibition Catalogue). The New Museum of Contemporary Art, MIT: New York and Cambridge. 1987
- Deutsche, Rosalyn. “Property Values: Hans Haacke, Real Estate, and the Museum”. Hans Haacke ed. Hans Haacke: Unfinished Business. (Exhibition Catalogue) The New Museum of Contemporary Art, MIT: New York and Cambridge. 1987.
Week 11: Final Thoughts
- Review and discuss the dominant issues of the semester.