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BAM/PFA Courses

Digital Culture 0101

October 25, 2007 - December 6, 2007; 6:30 p.m.

A new way to learn about new media

How do digital media influence our perception and experience of space and time? What are their social implications? Digital Culture 0101 provides the opportunity for the general public to explore a wide range of compelling issues with artists and experts in the field. This thought-provoking course, taught by BAM/PFA Digital Media Director and Adjunct Curator Richard Rinehart, introduces new media as they reflect and interact with our culture.

The course draws upon BAM/PFA’s pioneering use of digital media and its commitment to digital art, within the larger contexts of UC Berkeley’s increasing attention to new media and the Bay Area as a center of digital culture. It offers a non-technical look at issues surrounding digital media through the lens of digital art, sometimes working directly with works in the exhibition RIP.MIX.BURN.BAM.PFA. Richard Rinehart and guest speakers—all practicing new-media artists—will lead sessions on topics including space and time, the body, interactivity, social context, collective memory, and intellectual property. In one session, a DJ/remix artist will involve students in a hands-on experience of remixing. Online discussion will extend the opportunities for conversation.

When: Thursday evenings, October 25, November 1, 8, 15, 29, December 6 (no class on November 22), 6:30–8:30 p.m.
Where: Museum Theater, 2621 Durant Avenue (between College and Telegraph), Berkeley, California
Cost: $125 for six-session course; $100 for BAM/PFA members and non-UCB students; free for UC Berkeley students
Advance Registration Required:
Online: Register here.
By phone: (510) 642-5249, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
In person: at the museum’s Bancroft lobby admissions desk
UC Berkeley students wishing to take this course for credit should register via Tele-BEARS (CNM 190)

Course Syllabus

October 25: Introduction
What is digital media? What makes digital different from other media?
A short romp through time reveals the origin of the modern computer in ancient China and Babylon. This lecture introduces important milestones and figures in the development of digital media, from seafaring explorers to modern spies to eccentric, brilliant, and tragic personae. This lecture will also explain core ideas behind digital media and what makes the computer the first truly “universal machine.”

November 1: Space and Time
How do digital media influence our perception and experience of space? How do digital media represent time? Can we believe what we see through digital media?
This lecture will reveal how networks extend the human senses and human agency in ways that make us question the truth of what we perceive. It will also introduce audiences to how digital media build a representation of the real world, and ask what are the limits of that representation.
Guest Speaker: Ken Goldberg

November 8: Interactivity
Why are digital media often called interactive media? What does it mean for a medium to be interactive?
Interactivity is a form of exchange for agency and power. This lecture looks at the hype surrounding notions of interactivity in digital media, and proposes a continuum of interactivity in which media can be characterized as being more or less interactive. Strategies for interactivity will be showcased, ranging from games to digital art.
Guest Speaker: Jonathon Keats

November 15: Social Context
What are the social implications and reactions to digital media? Is intellectual property the battlefield of the next culture wars?
This lecture looks at art and cultural movements that spotlight the social aspects of digital media, ranging from the new economy to copyright alternatives to hacktivism (hacker+activism).
Guest Speaker: Alison Sant

NO CLASS ON NOV. 22 – Thanksgiving

November 29: Class Mash-up
What better way to engage with ideas of creative re-mix than to participate in one?
This entire class session is devoted to giving students hands-on experience in creating collaborative music mash-up, led by guest-speaker and music artist Thoryn Stephens.

December 6: Collective Memory
Although we have more information than ever, are we becoming more forgetful? How will cultural memory institutions like libraries and museums preserve digital culture for the next 500 years?
Is it possible to preserve digital art, or will a generation of artists be assigned to the dustbin of history? As culture is becoming increasingly digital, is it possible to preserve any of it for the long term, or does this change how we think about collective memory? What does preservation reveal about the nature of digital culture and art?