Ontario College of Art & Design

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Every semester the Faculty of Liberal Studies offers a variety of Special Topics courses in each discipline and at most levels. These courses allow us to add variety to the curriculum, take advantage of the special expertise of sessional instructors or new faculty, and try out course topics before adding them to the regular curriculum. All of these courses are the equal of regularly listed courses and fulfill the discipline and level requirements for graduation.

Fall 2010

HUMN 3B91: Sound Objects: Investigating Experimental Music
David Cecchetto

This course examines "experimental" music traditions as they have unfolded since 1945. Attention will be given to a wide range of practices, including conceptual works, serialism, spectral music, locative works, digital practices and sound installation. Looking at this history of “Western art music," the course hinges on a particular tension: on one hand, we will learn about key musical concepts (such as pitch logic, sound colour, texture, and performance ritual) as they have been developed in contemporary music practices; on the other hand, we will examine ways in which other disciplines and ways of thinking have troubled these ideas. The work of artists and musicians, such as John Cage, Schoenberg, Schafer, Cardiff and Bryne will be explored in the course. In short, students will complete this course having developed a robust musical vocabulary, finely tuned ears...and a deep ambivalence about the claims that music makes about itself!  No prior experience with music is necessary.

VISC 2B93: Introduction to Games Studies
Emma Westecott

Games studies views games as complex objects, mapping the game "object", the player "subject" and the critical dialogue that delimits game space. This course explores games as cultural artifacts, arising from diverse cultural histories, landscapes and geographies, impacting and impacted by sub-cultures. Students will learn to analyse the mechanics, aesthetics and practices of games via varied analytical approaches addressing their textual, performative, socio-cultural, design and political contexts. As well, the course introduces students to tools and techniques to analyze the cultural impact of the videogame.

VISC 3B91: Car Culture
Marie-Josee Therrien

This course examines the multifaceted impact of the car in the 20th century, from its invention to the most recent examples of cars (electric, hybrid, Tata’s people car, etc.). It will use the automobile as the entrée to an understanding of the culture of mobility. It will explore questions of the design and production of cars, taking into account gender and cultural differences; the effect cars have on the natural and built environment as well as the representation and the use of cars in the visual arts. The course will also examine car culture in relation to the far reaching challenge that sustainability represents for the 21st century.

VISC 3B93: The Writing on the Wall: Radical Graphics and the Culture of Protest
Keith Bresnahan

This course examines the history of radical political movements and their graphic expression between the 18th century and the present, looking at the role of popular graphics (posters, pamphlets and magazines, graffiti, caricature, and graphic novels) in articulating political positions against the mainstream. We will consider a range of graphic work including 18th- and 19th-century revolutionary graphics and satirical prints; John Heartfield’s anti-Nazi photomontages of the 1930s; ‘third world’ anti-colonial graphics; Situationist graphics and May ‘68; anti-Vietnam war posters and underground ‘comix’; Canadian protest graphics (particularly in Québec); AIDS activist graphics (Gran Fury et al.); and contemporary anti-globalization graphics. We will consider the historical texts and contexts of these movements alongside their graphic strategies, and reflect on the broader relationship between graphics and politics in the modern era.

VISC 4B94: The Body and the Machine: Interrogating the Posthuman in Art and Design
David Cecchetto

Since the deus ex machina was used as a means to resolve the plot in Greek tragedy, we have relied on the machine to augment the everyday and improve (?) our quality of life. The “posthuman” has emerged from postmodern discourse to describe our desire to extend beyond the limits of the human body. In this participatory seminar we will interrogate the ways that artists and designers have contributed to the production of the posthuman, examine its history in western and eastern cultures, and critique the processe of its evolution.

Winter 2011

SCTM 2B90: Human-Computer Interaction
Derek Reilly

This course is an introduction to the field of Human-Computer Interaction, which considers digital systems (computers, smart phones, entertainment technology, etc.) from a human-centric (rather than machine-centric) perspective. Focusing on the practices of interactive systems design, you will gain hands-on exposure to established techniques for interaction design in each of its major phases: understanding and formalizing needs, brainstorming and evaluating ideas, developing and evaluating advanced prototypes, and understanding adoption and use. Students will be introduced to a set of digital and paper-based tools for prototyping interactive systems, which they will use to develop a medium-fidelity interactive prototype. There are no specific prerequisites for the course.

SCTM 2B94: Introduction to Computer Science: Logic and Coding
Derek Reilly

This course introduces students to the fundamentals of logic, and computer programming. It emphasizes object-oriented languages, allowing students to understand and later develop capacity in a wider range of programming methods. The material will be contextualized within both art and design practices, introducing students to programming for environments, objects and online, as well as practices of interaction, automation, generation, networks and visualization. Students will understand how to incorporate and recombine existing code and to use established design patterns. Basic foundational coding languages will be used to introduce key concepts that students can employ in their subsequent study of advanced programming languages . Students will be asked to bring in work-in-progress from their studio courses that can be implemented through coding.

SCTM 2B95: Introduction to Renewable Energy
Susan Molloy

With governments mandating that large portions of the electric power produced in the near future come from renewable sources, the interest and innovation in the alternative energy sector is fast paced and widespread.  In this course we will examine equally the three large areas of interest to Canadians: Solar, Wind and Marine. Then we will spend some time looking at other alternative sources.  We will first look at the fundamentals of electric power production, then go over the science of each power production method and consider socio-economic impacts.  We’ll evaluate the pros and cons of each, discuss government policies, and also look at individual energy conservation.

HUMN 3B92: STUFF: Material Culture and the Meanings of Things
Michale Prokopow

This course examines the meaning of things, buildings and places and the relationships people establish with them. Interested as much in the methodological questions of how to assess critically the built environment – and here the built environment is defined so as to include architecture, furniture, human-made landscape and objects of all kinds – as in philosophical and aesthetic questions of meaning and significance, whether functional or emotional, that tend to accompany the interactions with "stuff", the course is structured around linked, but independent thematic units. As such, the primary purpose of this course is to provide a framework for the analysis of things and methodological tools for the use of material culture in the study of society, past or present. Here, the intention is to interrogate the central, complex and powerful roles that things of all sorts play in daily life.

VISC 3B90: Critical Play
Emma Westecott

Through critical play practices, we experiment with identity, creative expression and invention, and we learn to improvise in a system of rules. This course addresses how such forms of play can generate criticality among players. Students will explore meaning-making in play through exploration of a range of games, and by tracing a history of subversive art practices from Surrealism to contemporary game creation. Finally, the course presents diverse analytical approaches, including art history, critical theory and visual culture, to enable students to construct critical play practices. Understanding games beyond entertainment, the course seeks to foster critically-aware gamers.

VISC 3B95: Social Entrepreneurship for Designers
Patty Johnson

This course will examine the contemporary context of design practice in terms of its relationship to social entrepreneurship, globalization and new models of collaboration. Contemporary design practice is rapidly changing in response to new technologies, global marketing, environmental concerns and the internationalization of products and modes of production. Areas of focus include globalization and product development, practice-based research, emerging design methodologies, sustainability, traditional practices, social equity and regional and international economic development.

VISC 3B96: Aboriginal Cultural Politics: Gender, Art and Activism
Julie Nagam

This course is an exploration of Aboriginal artists who are working with themes of gender, politics and contentious issues. The focus will be on artists who see their art making as both critically engaged and as part of their relationship to their communities. This will involve analyzing their work through personal testimonies, reviews and readings in the context of Aboriginal political and social issues. The course will work through theories of dialogical aesthetics, community-based and site-specific art practices and how this does or does not relate to Aboriginal epistemologies. Reflecting on differing stances on gender relations and feminism/theory, the course will examine how Aboriginal artists reject or participate in this dialogue. It will also reflect on the current role art has in our global society. In western or colonial countries such as Canada the function of art has often been confined to a gallery space with visual aesthetics being the primary rational for art production, we will begin to complicate and problematize this stance.

The course will reflect on local and established Aboriginal artists such as Rebecca Belmore, Faye Heavysheild and Jeff Thomas and will draw comparisons with Indigenous artists from the United States and various Latin American countries. The course will consist of readings, in class discussions, visual presentations, films, field trips and any other related possibilities.

VISC 4B91: Improvisational Music and the Visual Arts in late 20th Century
Ananda Shankar Chakrabarty

From ca. 1930s onward, artists and musicians/composers have had increasingly frequent and varied forms of interactions that exceed the simple and reductive explications of parallelism. From ca. 1950s, such interactions have acquired an accrued intensity and frequency. It is the case that from mid-century onward, time and space have begun to mediate, in different ways, visual and acoustic expressions: time has become a concrete element in visual arts at the same time as space has acquired a critical dimension in musical projects. This course will explore the multiple facets of the tensions and contentions between the two artistic forms in question and will enable students to interrogate the extent to which boundaries between these two expressive forms have acquired a certain porosity, which has turned the disabling limit of a boundary into the enabling condition of a horizon. Nelson Goodman’s propositions of “notationality” (The Language of Art), Gérard Genette’s theoretical considerations (The Work of Art: Immanence and Transcendence) regarding the status of “allographic” (i.e. existing in multiple copies) versus “autographic” (i.e. existing in single example) work, and Jean-Yves Bosseur’s (Musique et Arts Plastiques - Interactions au XXe siècle) discussions of the interactions between music and visual arts will provide the contexts and terms of debate in this course.

VISC 4B92: Vision and Ruins in Post-War Visual Expressions
Ananda Shankar Chakrabarty

This course will address the notions of “vision” and “ruin” within the context of post-1945 artistic praxis in order to explore the evasive parameters of visual expression following the shift from the “modern” to what has come to be known as the “postmodern.” “Vision” itself can be re-viewed as a form of vestigial presence, a “ruin” that corresponds to several temporally overlapping “deaths” or “ends” of ideas and ambitions in post-war European and American art. Among other things, we will look at the post-war artistic fascination with memory, origin(s), extinction, archive, and identity (imagined or not) for an investigation of “ruins” in all the complexities of the term. Selected readings from an interdisciplinary spectrum of writings (art history, ethnological perspectives of visual culture, philosophical aesthetics, literary criticism, cultural and post-colonial studies) will constitute a broad theoretical ground for class discussions, which will center on the nomadic plurality of late modern and contemporary art, especially within a global context.

Last Modified:1/24/2012 12:57:20 PM