intro

ART IN THE AGE OF DIGITAL DISSEMINATION
CLASS ESSAYS (unix-compressed-file of collected 
essays)from a 
Fine Arts Course taught at the University of Victoria, B.C., Canada
by Brad Brace, 1993. Currently being taught online through 
Athena University.

Contact: lgammon@nero.uvic.ca
or, Brad Brace, 503-230-1197 (bbrace@netcom.com)

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This Fine Arts course was the first _art & technology_ course
taught at the University of Victoria. The students involved were
from a variety of disciplines (although, primarily visual arts
students) and had for the most part, little or no previous
exposure to computers. The Computer Lab at the University has, an
array of imperious nerds intent on empire-building, 10 networked
Sun workstations, a few slow Macintoshes, two flatbed scanners,
one PC and some basic pagelayout and photo manipulation software
primarily for the Macintoshes, basic sound/midi equipment, and a
grumpy creative-writing professor who regularly shuffles down the
hall to the faculty-lounge to wash out his teapot. This was
enough equipment to provide glimpses of creative possibilities; I
suspect that enough enthusiasm has been generated to warrant the
purchase of additional equipment and software, and to have this
course offered on a regular basis. A printing press would also be
a nice adjunct to the existing traditional visual art
departments. I have also offered to design and build a virtual
text-based reality (MOO) for the Fine Arts Department.
 
     Although characterized as a _studio course_ I felt it more
appropriate to discuss the larger issues involving technology and
contemporary culture and minimize the importance of a through
_knowledge_ of specific software. This was accomplished with
handouts and discussions of pertinent articles, screenings of
appropriate films, and contemporary music. Particular attention
was given to networks and interconnectivity in general and of
course, the Internet. Although this was an introductory course,
the exposure to the various resources available through the
Internet encouraged a phenomenally rapid grasp of both digital
dissemination and the (Unix) operating system.

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     Course Description: _A flirtatious romp lightly over the
glittering periphery of digital technology. Has art and the avant
garde disappeared from view, gradually leaking into an
all-pervasive generalized aestheticism? Could it be that
something that might have once been called art is alive and
flourishing between connected networkers... unbeknownst to
implausible and incestuous art institutions? Are there really
still artists around who think they're making art? Are computer
systems virtually enacting the penultimate hierarchy, enforcing
oppressive political privilege; or are they the new democratic,
means of representation? Has the critical art press stood still
under a deluge of new cultural publications? Have we *all* become
artist? These questions and more...!

     _An introduction and collaborative overview and analysis of
fairly recent, mid-range, cultural tools and their implied
functions.

     _Students are encouraged to attend all classes and optimize
their uses of the equipment while exploring various venues
throughout the reserved studio time following the class each
morning. Other facilities on and off-campus will also be
utilized.

     _A reminder that an informal essay of three to four thousand
words is required for this course. It should be _brimming with
original insight and speculation on contemporary culture and
technology._ It may be informal in that it employs creative
writing techniques (contemporary structures, verse, quotations,
dialogue, illustrations, etc.). It may make reference to
contemporary media, including the materials/sources shown in
class.

     _Also required, is an electronic-portfolio of visual and
audio art projects. This should demonstrate some degree of
familiarity of software and resources covered in the lab. It need
not be an extensive or necessarily cohesive body of work. It
should be strongly suggestive of a developing approach to
technological media._