Undergraduate Course: Images Under Control: Aesthetics of Digital Culture (HIAR10180)
|School||Edinburgh College of Art
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Not available to visiting students
|Summary||This course examines some significant aesthetic categories of digital culture. These are social and cultural forms that have their own history, but which have taken on a new life in the digital world. The point of this analysis is to give attention to and scrutinise contemporary digital culture and to provide a longer historical trajectory to these current phenomena.
Taking its starting point from Gilles Deleuze's periodizing essay 'Postscript on the Societies of Control' (1990), which suggests that we have entered a new social and cultural situation with the rise of digital computing technologies, this course examines key cultural and aesthetic forms and categories that emerge in this situation, such as for example, 'cute', 'anonymous' and 'horror'. Structured as a series of two-hour seminars, the course will test Deleuze's hypothesis, considering case studies drawn from everyday visual culture as well as examples of contemporary art, analysing the aesthetic categories that emerge from them, and situating them in a wider social, cultural and political field. A particular emphasis will be placed on the idea of the historic avant-garde, whose typical tropes (for instance, anonymity and transgression) are, to a certain extent, facilitated and normalised by online technological platforms. Through in-depth analyses of individual works of art, we will consider how these aesthetic categories are negotiated and repurposed by contemporary artists. Possible artists we will study include for example, Amalia Ulman who has worked with the new photographic language of Instagram, Jordan Wolfson who engages with the wilfully provocative and misanthropic image-sharing culture on 4chan, and Thomas Ruff, who explores the materiality of digital photographs. In this respect, we will consider the digital within a longer art history of the avant-garde, questioning what life is left in its forms of oppositionality, criticality and subversion.
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2019/20, Not available to visiting students (SS1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20,
Formative Assessment Hours 1,
Summative Assessment Hours 2,
Revision Session Hours 1,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||1 x 2500 word essay 50% - submitted weeks 8-10
1 x 2 hour exam 50% - May or December diet.
||Students are given feedback on formative assessment as follows:
You will be asked to prepare a presentation to deliver to the class and to submit a short (c.300 word) summary of your presentation with references. You will receive verbal feedback at a one-to-one meeting afterwards.
There will be an essay and an exam, equally weighted. Written feedback on student essays will be provided, in addition to a one-to-one meeting towards the end of semester.
||Hours & Minutes
|Main Exam Diet S1 (December)||Theory Exam||2:00|
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Demonstrate skills of visual analysis and interpretation by looking in detail at art and visual culture on the internet.
- Demonstrate the ability to analyse a series of aesthetic categories and set them in a historical and theoretical context.
- Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of digital media and its impact on the way we make and look at art.
- Demonstrate the ability to critically examine the ways in which digital culture can be periodized.
- Demonstrate the ability to present ideas clearly and well in writing and in debate.
|Jean Baudrillard. In The Shadow of the Silent Majorities ,(Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2007).|
Gilles Deleuze. 'Postscript on the Societies of Control' , October, vol. 59. (Winter 1992), 3 - 7.
Vilém Flusser. Towards a Philosophy of Photography , translated by Anthony Matthews (London: Reaktion Books, 2006).
Angela Nagle. Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars From 4Chan And Tumblr To Trump and the Alt-Right (London: Zero Books, 2016).
Sianne Ngai. Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012).
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||Visual and critical analysis;
Clear thinking and the development of an argument;
Presentation and communication skills;
Organisation and planning.
|Course organiser||Dr Ian Rothwell
|Course secretary||Mrs Sue Cavanagh
Tel: (0131 6)51 1460