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Academic Year: Fall/Winter 2014/2015

Term: 2

Day/Evening: E

Instructor: Prof. Sally McKay


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 417

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23675

Office Hours: Thursdays 11:00-12:00, TSH 417

Course Objectives:

Creating art utilizing a range of media, including digital tools and creative research, students will gain an understanding of art, images and cultures of technology. This course offers students from all programs the opportunity to gain a hands-on introduction to digital art making and media while engaging in critical analysis of digital art and visual culture online. Students will gain skills in the effective use of consumer products for art production, composition, form and creative self-expression. Art projects will be linked to assigned readings, class discussions and lectures. Students will gain widely applicable skills in both manipulating and analyzing the communicative power of images. No previous artistic experience is required.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Textbook and Required Readings

• The Circle, by Dave Eggers. Available at Titles Bookstore.

• Additional required readings will be available online, see reading schedule for links.


Equipment and materials

• a laptop equipped with full Photoshop or GIMP

            [GIMP is free to download at]

• a digital camera that shoots stills and video [the camera in your phone is fine]

• a means of transferring images from your camera/phone to your laptop during class

• sketchbook

• pencils: 2b and 4b recommended

• eraser

• pencil sharpener


NOTE: Please bring all of these materials to each class unless otherwise notified. Please make sure that your laptop and camera/phone are fully charged before each class.

Method of Assessment:

In-Class Assignments             due weekly in class                                                10%


Weekly Reading Responses on Tumblr            weeks 1-5 due Feb. 5                   20%

Detailed guidelines will be provided in class and posted on Avenue to Learn.


Weekly Reading Responses on Tumblr            weeks 6-10 due March 19            20%

Detailed guidelines will be provided in class and posted on Avenue to Learn.


Digital Art Project 1                       due Feb. 12                                                        10%

Detailed guidelines will be provided in class and posted on Avenue to Learn.


Digital Art Project 2                        due March 26                                                   10%

Detailed guidelines will be provided in class and posted on Avenue to Learn.


Exam                             scheduled during exam period                                         30%           

Detailed study guide will be posted on Avenue to Learn.


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

This is a self-reporting tool for undergraduate students to report absences DUE TO MINOR MEDICAL SITUATIONS that last up to 5 days and provides the ability to request accommodation for any missed academic work. Please note, this tool cannot be used during any final examination period. You may submit a maximum of 1 Academic Work Missed request per term. It is YOUR responsibility to follow up with your Instructor immediately (NORMALLY WITHIN TWO WORKING DAYS) regarding the nature of the accommodation. If you are absent for reasons other than medical reasons, for more than 5 days, or exceed 1 request per term, you MUST visit your Associate Dean's Office/Faculty Office). You may be required to provide supporting documentation. This form should be filled out immediately when you are about to return to class after your absence.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Jan. 8 - Week 1

• Dave Eggers, The Circle,  (Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2013), 1-91.

• VIDEO: Marshall McLuhan Speaks

            • Introduction (22:00)

            • Sayings/the medium is the massage (0:32)

            • Sayings/the medium is the message (0:58)


Jan. 15 - Week 2

• Dave Eggers, The Circle,  91-176.

• VIDEO: Kevin Kelly, TEDxAmsterdam: What Does Technology Want?  (19:11)

• TEXT: Olia Lialina, “Turing Complete User,” (October 2012)


Jan. 22 - Week 3

• Dave Eggers, The Circle,  176-263.

• Rachel Greene, “Web Work: A History of Internet Art,” Artforum, 38/9 (2000): 162-190.  PDF posted on Avenue to Learn

• María Fernández, “Postcolonial Media Theory,” Art Journal, 58/3 (September 1999): 58 -73.  TO FIND THIS DOCUMENT: Mills Library Website > Articles/Databases > type “Scholar’s Portal” in search by database name > click “GO” > scroll down and click on “Journals @ Scholars Portal” > enter your MAC ID username and password  and click on “log in” > type “Postcolonial Media Theory” in the search field and select “Article Title” from the pull down menu > click “search” > under the entry for the essay, click “PDF Download”


Jan. 29 - Week 4

• Dave Eggers, The Circle,  263-346.

• Hito Steyerl, “In Defense of the Poor Image” eflux (2009)

• Paddy Johnson, “A Brief History of Animated GIF Art,” artnet (Aug. - Sept., 2014)

        • Part One:

        • Part Two:

        • Part Three:

        • Part Four:


Feb. 5  - Week 5

• Dave Eggers, The Circle,  346-433.

• Leah Sandals, “6 Lessons from Net-Art Talent Jennifer Chan” Canadian Art (April, 2014)

• TEXT and ONLINE ARTWORK: Cam Twist, Jennifer Chan

• VIDEO: Jennifer Chan’s artists’ talk at Images Festival (watch to 30:00)

• OPTIONAL VIDEO: [NOTE: adult content, please watch at your own discretion] Jennifer Chan’s screencast artist talk (13:20)


Feb. 12 - Week 6

• Dave Eggers, The Circle,  433-491.

• Louis Doulas, “Art from Outside the Googleplex: An Interview with Andrew Norman Wilson,” Rhizome (2012)

• ART VIDEO: Andrew Norman Wilson, Workers Leaving the Googleplex (11:03)


Feb. 19 - NO CLASS Mid-Term RECESS


Feb. 26 - Week 7

• Honor Harger, “Drone's Eye View: A Look at How Artists are Revealing the Killing Fields,” Rhizome (2012)


March 5 - Week 8

• Hito Steyerl In conversation with Marvin Jordan, Politics of Post-Representation, Dis Magazine (2014)

• Michael Connor, “Hito Steyerl's 'How Not to be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational .MOV File'” Rhizome (2013)


March 12 - Week 9

• Anita Sarkeesian interviewd by Paul Dean, “Tropes vs Women in Video Games: Why it Matters”, IGN, reposted on Feminist Frequency (2013)

• A Man in Black, "How Chan-Style Anonymous Culture Shapes #gamergate" (2014)

• Paddy Johnson, “Enough with Dude-Centric Net Art Shows,” AFCity (2012)


March 19 - Week 10

• Jennifer Chan, “Notes on Post-Internet,” You Are Here: Art After the Internet, Omar Kholeif, ed. (Cornerhouse Books, 2014) PDF posted on Avenue to Learn

• Joseph Henry, “The Commons of Aggregation: The Case for Net Art as Public Art,” Momus (2014)



Other Course Information:

Policy on Email Communication: It is the policy of the School of the Arts that all email communication between students and instructors must originate from their official McMaster accounts. This policy protects the confidentiality and sensitivity of info and confirms the identity of both parties. SOTA instructors will delete messages that do not originate from McMaster University email accounts. The instructor may take up to 48 hours to read and/or respond to student emails.

Support Services: The University provides a variety of support services to help students manage their many demands. Reference librarians can provide invaluable research assistance. The Student Accessibility Services Centre (SAS) provides assistance with personal as well as academic matters. MUSC B107 and


Academic and writing skills support is offered by the Student Success Centre located in Gilmour Hall, room 110. For more information on the Student Success Centre please call (905) 525-9140 [ext. 24254], email or visit