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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : Design

Undergraduate Course: Surfaces & Screens (DESI10123)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course is a theoretically and critically led exploration of the histories, roles and futures of 'Surfaces & Screens' in everyday life. Considering the many ways by which surfaces and screens are present in everyday life - as materials, fabrics, textiles, clothing, interiors, printed substrates and illuminated and projected displays - we shall examine what these forms mean for the development of material and media culture as well as explore new formations of surface and screen through observations and critical practice-based experimentations. To explore this future takes us into a realm where surfaces and screens and materials and media mix and mutate in revealing new forms adornment, experience and communication; which could mean exploring electronic textiles, smart materials and augmented reality or anything you can set your critical imagination to.
Course description 1) Academic description

This course aims to educate you in new understandings of material and media culture through the notion of 'Surfaces & Screens' and consequently explore how materials and media have historically shaped one another and how the interplay between materials and media opens-up new forms of culture and critique and possibilities of making. The course is set within a context of bringing crafts, design and the media arts together in an interdisciplinary and innovative way and to consider that histories of creative culture can be understood through different types of surfaces and screens which; decorate the body, craft intimacy, create spaces, express ideas, communicate information and display, project and share knowledge and imagination. Thus, from illustration, to form-making and to filming - and then on to digital objects, smart textiles, electronic displays and future media forms - we can start to consider how theories and practices of materials and media can inform one another. However, we will also step beyond reading and discussion and into a realm of critical practice where you will express your ideas and insights through conceptualising and making new forms of surface and screen experience. The course will draw on theories and ideas expressed by writings, makings, media and film across anthropology, science and technology studies, media philosophy and critical design.

2) Content outline

The course will explore the following content themes and do so through considering writings, makings, media and film which theorise, substantiate and speculate on the matters of each theme: Surfacing across time - exploring histories, contemporary issues and future manifestations of surfaces and screens; Illumination and communication - considering how notions of screen and surface inform our knowledge of the world and shape practices of knowing, recording and sharing; Stitching matters and media - exploring how surfaces and screens have informed the development of one another and are opening-up new ideas and forms of material and media culture; Forms of power - addressing how different formations of surface and screen have differing agencies, social effects and activity within structures of power and social change; Mediating and disrupting - exploring how surfaces and screen mediate our knowledge of the world and inform conditions of truth and distortion as well as how critical insights can be expressed not only through writing but also different practices of making;

3) Student learning experience

The course brings together both classic and innovative formats of learning experience. You will experience learning through a set of principal lectures, but which will feature extensive use of visual media as well as explanation through and with materials, made things and video and documentary footage. Seminars will draw students from different disciplines to engage with readings and express their thoughts and critical reflections through sharing and exploring materials, media and practices of making. Your work for the course will involve: the writing of a summary abstract to reflect your interim learning, reflective insights and intentions in critical practice (formatively assessed); the development of a creative project, led by critique and involving student-directed exploration of texts and materials, media, makings and/or performance. This project will be communicated for summative assessment through the creation of a 'critical project book', led by text and presenting creative work through visual and/or other forms of media. You will also be invited to present your critical project book and work in an end of semester 'sharing session' where you will see and learn from the experience and ideas of your peers. This sharing session will also be explored in its potential to be developed into a 'mini-symposium' which would bring you into engagement with the wider university community, local practitioners and public. Core to the learning experience is developing student abilities to engage with the topic critically and do so through a learning style that reflects and strecthes their expressive sensibilities.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed:
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements If this course is Core to your programme, you will automatically be enrolled. For all other students, including Design students, the course is open on a first come, first served basis until the course is full. This course may have limited availability for non-Design students. Please contact the Course Organiser if you wish to enrol.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate critical and detailed knowledge of contemporary developments in materials and media cultures.
  2. Critically analyse and interpret a body of information and knowledge towards defining an original argument concerning contemporary and future issues in materials-media.
  3. Communicate and articulate ideas and arguments in a form that combines writing with other forms of media such as visual, auditory, tactile and physical.
Reading List
Amato, J. A. (2013) Surfaces: A History. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.

Anusas, M. & Ingold, T. (2013) Designing Environmental Relations: from Opacity to Textility, Design Issues, 29(4): 58-69. [Available also in Standard Mandarin/Chinese.]

Bruno, G. (2014) Surface: Matters of Aesthetics, Materiality and Media, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Flusser, V. (2000) Towards a Philosophy of Photography, London: Reaktion Books.

Kuchler, S. (2008) Technological Materiality: Beyond the Dualist Paradigm, Theory, Culture & Society, 25(1) 101-120.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The course shall contribute to the development of personal and professional attributes and skills through attending to SCQF Characteristics 3 to 5 appropriate to Level Descriptors at Level 10 (Bachelors) as follows:

Characteristic 3: Generic cognitive skills: Critically analyse complex problems and demonstrate some originality in dealing with professional issues and make judgements where information is limited.

Characteristic 4: Communication, numeracy and ICT skills: communicate information on specialist topics to peers, senior colleagues and specialists and use a range of ICT to support and enhance.

Characteristic 5: Autonomy, accountability and working with others: Exercise significant responsibility, autonomy and initiative in professional activities and working with others to bring about change and new thinking.
KeywordsDesign,Media,Surfaces,Screens,Anthropology,Philosophy,Material Culture,Critical Practice,Creativity
Course organiserDr Mike Anusas
Tel: (0131 6)51 5728
Course secretaryMs Ruth Lee
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