Images are everywhere and they shape our ideas, values, and desires. How has the image come to be so powerful? How can we navigate the barrage of still and moving images? We will explore a range of critical and theoretical approaches to understanding the meanings we make of images, icons, and visual representations.
“Visual culture” is a term that includes what has traditionally been thought of as the “fine” arts as well as more “popular” forms of visible media such as comics, advertising, television, film, decorative arts, video, installations, performance art, and digital and new media art. We will focus specifically on 20th and early 21st century visual culture, and on modernism and postmodernism.
This course is based on the belief that learning about art, media, and culture happened best when we combine critical and creative work. In other words, when you make visual culture as well as read about it, analyze it, and interpret it, you understand it more fully. This course asks you to think of yourself as an artist in the broadest sense of the word. Artists show us what we’ve not perceived before, or new things about what’s familiar. Therefore, assignments will be both analytical and creative, and will incorporate writing, drawing, and collage. Don’t worry about your artistic talent—you won’t be graded on your artistic ability, but on your artistic sensibility! Your Seeing/Writing Journal is a place for you to experiment with different forms and media, and your projects will give you the opportunity to create something in the medium you choose, show it to your classmates, and have discussion about it using the terms and concepts we learn in the course. And this blog is where our class dialog opens outward, to whomever might be looking.