Web Art 2007, Syllabus

School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Art and Technology Studies
Spring Semester 2006
Web Art
Instructor: Seth Hunter

Class Times:
Michigan Building, room 416
Tuesdays and Thursdays 6 - 9 PM

Office hours by request:
Tuesday's 5 – 6 PM room 416 by request.

Objectives and Methods
Evaluation & Critique
Daily Structure
Projects & Homework
Weekly Topics Outline


This course will survey the tools, techniques, history, and context of contemporary artists producing work through electronic online publishing on the World Wide Web. Students will be introduced to web-standards compliant CSS, common JavaScript usage, and the basic use of relational databases using PHP with MySQL. The second half of the course will focus on supplemental techniques of Image Processing with Photoshop and Image Ready, an overview of narrative based structures in Flash, and the generation of java applets incorporating the ProHTML, Net, and SQL librarys in Processing.


We will attempt to incorporate a basic conceptual understanding of computer systems and practical development of a personal toolkit to participate in the internet arts world. New Media Artist presentations will function to introduce students to a spectrum of new media artists working online.

An emphasis on developing a community in the class will be encouraged. Most major projects will invite personal and online collaboration, and require a willingness to engage with each other. I view this as an essential part of fostering your practice as a digital artist, as almost all work with complex technology are collaborative visions. This is intended to counteract the tendency to isolate oneself when working with computers.

Evaluation and Critique of Work

Passing the class is contingent on attendance, completing your projects, and your participation within the class community. Original, surprising, relevant, seducing, viable, serious work is encouraged. Technologically correct but dull work, work that merely meets the requirements, work that focuses excessively on technicalities (and not on aesthetics), work that has interesting premises but sloppy execution, will be addressed in critique. The effort made in meeting the artist ’s conceptual intention will also be considered in critique. A midterm review will occur in weeks 8 and 9 help students monitor their individual progress in the class.

Producing viable work will be possible by investing yourself in the process of learning the software and working with myself and other students on a consistent basis. This class will be structured so that you can monitor your progress, and work through any technical difficulties you may have in completing your vision. If you invest your energy, you will do well in the class.


Attendance is absolutely mandatory.
Work outside the course hours is expected and encouraged, however, since demonstrations and collaboration are essential, you should be present. While in class I expect you to work on assignments related to the course.
You are allowed two unexcused absences. Unexcused means that you don't communicate with me about the reason for your absence.
If for whatever reason you miss a class you are responsible for getting all the necessary information about what was discussed, done, assigned and demonstrated during that meeting. Please take two phone numbers of two of your fellow students and ask them when you need such information; ask someone in advance to take notes for you. I will refer you to the community upon inquiries about the content of missed meetings.


Internet Art, Rachel Greene– Thames & Hudson Publishing ISBN-13 978-0500203767

Additional Resources: These books will be on reserve in the Flaxman, but I recommend purchasing them for reference purposes. We will read selected articles from them.
The Language of New Media - Lev Manovitch
Flash to the core – an interactive sketchbook by Joshua Davis
The New Media Reader, Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Monfort
Creative Code - by John Maeda from MIT

Daily Structure:

15-20 min.
Concepts and Themes In Internet Art 1992-present. Presentation and discussion of new media artists. Individual students will present a web-based essay on a new media artist or genre. This time is intended to help students put their work into a historical context, and to introduce students to methods, possibilities, and sources of inspiration.

20-30 min.
Discussion and Review of Current Work: Projects will be outlined, discussed, individual students will be expected to share ideas and sketches from notebooks with other students. This time will be reserved for shaping the content and intent behind each of our projects and for collaborative meetings.

1 hr min.
Technical Presentation: Practical Holistic Knowledge of software program designs, as well as specific uses of tools and methods. Design approach, learning methods, and example files will be presented to help facilitate students understanding of how to overcome technical challenges. General question and answer time.

45 min.
Individual Work Time: Students are free to begin projects, meet with each other, and meet with the Instructor. Use this time to work through your technical issues, monitor your progress, sketch ideas, and work on your files.

Projects & Homework Exercises:

Weeks 1-6: Exercises will be assigned each week related HTML, CSS, Javascript, and PHP.

Week 2: Students choose a New Media Artist to research and a week to present.

These are intended as open ended assignments to help you get immersed in the tools.

Week: 6: Collaborative Proposal Presentations for a Midterm Project.

Week: 7: Midterm Project class presentations

Weeks 8-10: Exercises specific to Flash and Processing will be assigned to be due each week.

Week 11: Proposal for final project due.

Weeks 12-13: Final Project Development sessions.

Week 14: Final Presentations

Weekly Schedule (rough outline for faculty meeting, will be much more detailed):

Week 1:

intro to course, grading/attendance policies, packets and browser interface/communication models. view various examples (traditional and otherwise) of the graphical user interface

Week 2:

HTML and xHtml. FTP and Website management. Text based formatting and adding Images and Tables to HTML. Adobe Imageready and Web formatting.

Week 3:

Cascading Style Sheets, CSS reference sites, compliance issues, style management, dynamic states (rollovers) with CSS styling.

Week 4:

Javascript. Adding client side code to a webpage, a look at artists like JODI. Basic code structures introduced as well as common scripts to include. External .js management.

Week 5:

Basic PHP scripts. Introduction to MySQL and relational databases. Intro to CocoaMySQL for database management. Introduction to basic SQL queries.

Week 6:

More PHP: Integrating PHP and MySQL to collect and look at Data Indexing Strategies. Review of 5 basic PHP query, insert techniques. Midterm project proposals.

Week 7:

Midterm Presentations & Alternative Data Management through XML. Why is XML the in between for so many programs?

Week 8:

Plugins: What are they and what tools do we have to choose from? Introduction to the Flash Timeline, and basic tweening techniques for narrative purpose. Actionscript start,stop,play techniques.

Week 9:

Getting creative with Actionscript! How is actionscript like Javascript? Example code and very simple introduction to using the Actionscript dictionary. Advantages/Disadvantages of Vector based programming.

Week 10:

Processing Environment Introduced. Basic Looping, Setup, and drawing procedures. Variables, and Expressions introduced.

Week 11:

Arrays and For loops. Managing data in lists. How to write Functions.

Week 12:

Adding Class functionality and using Libraries in Processing. Object oriented Programming presented in a conceptual and practical manner in class.

Week 13:

Studio Time - working together to combine tools and outline project procedure steps. Debugging problems and testing on the web.

Week 14:

Final Project Presentations and critique.