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BA Art History and History / Course details
Year of entry: 2023
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Course unit details:
Digital Ways of Seeing: Theory and Practice
|Unit level||Level 2|
|Teaching period(s)||Semester 1|
|Offered by||Art History and Cultural Practices|
|Available as a free choice unit?||Yes|
How do we use artworks and digital technologies to help us see and understand the world? In this module, we take artworks as ‘things to think with’ about the ways digital technologies enable us to visualise, imagine, represent and critique the world around us. We use John Berger’s influential rubric of ‘ways of seeing’ to help us think critically about how we see in the present.
Each week of the course will focus on a different selection of artworks, and critically consider how those works help us to investigate a digital ‘way of seeing’. For example, we focus on artworks that critique surveillance culture to think about how the traditional concept of the gaze is being transformed and applied to us as we become ‘the viewed’.
The module is organised around 11 lectures, 8 seminars and 3 'experiences' - whether gallery visits, encounters with digital artworks or VR installations, making use of the richness of Manchester's visual cultural opportunities.
No special knowledge of digital technology is required for this module.
· To develop students’ theoretical understanding of digital visual media as a tool for visualising the world in multiple ways and in multiple interests
· To introduce techniques and approaches for creatively investigating our relationships to digital visual technologies, enabling students to critically assess other forms of digital technology
· To develop transferable skills in critical inquiry and debate
· To develop confidence in using creative research methods to investigate digital and visual phenomena.
· To analyse art works as entry points to forming critical understandings of digital technologies
Knowledge and understanding
Students will be able to:
· Understand the ways in which a range of contemporary visual technologies create depictions of the world, in the context of digital mapping and GPS, facial recognition and machine vision, contemporary art and surveillance
· Articulate how each technology creates and circulates its depictions
· Identify and evaluate diverse approaches to digital practices and tools and theoretical and critical analysis of their effectiveness
• Analyse digital forms of vision from the perspectives of both the viewer and the producer
• To analyse art works as entry points to forming critical understandings of digital technologies, and be able to consider the art work in different roles eg. as record, as representation, as investigation, as provocation
• Contemplate and discuss ways in which art works position us as subjects, politically and socially
• Critically evaluate the strategies of art works and artists in relation to digital technologies
• Develop the ability to offer constructive feedback and debate with fellow students
· Demonstrate the ability to create their own imagery using selected technologies
· Devise, write and present an online project investigating aspects of digital vision.
· Develop confidence in using selected creative research methods to investigate digital and visual phenomena.
· Gain skills in project planning and working to deadlines
Transferable skills and personal qualities
- Critically reflect in discussion and in writing upon their own practical work.
- Communicate information and ideas effectively, using appropriate and nuanced language and presentation formats
- Display decision-making skills
- Critically evaluate personal and team performance through monitoring and analytical reflection
Formative or Summative
Weighting within unit (if summative)
Writing about a chosen art work
Writing project, option for either a traditional essay or a creative investigation.
Formative or Summative
Written feedback on formative writing
Berger, J. (2008). Ways of seeing. Penguin UK.
Kurgan, L. (2013). Close up at a distance: Mapping, technology, and politics. MIT Press.
Jay, M., & Ramaswamy, S. (Eds.). (2014). Empires of vision: A reader. Duke University Press.
Monahan, T. (2018). Ways of being seen: surveillance art and the interpellation of viewing subjects. Cultural Studies, 32(4), 560-581.
Lee-Morrison, L. (2019). Portraits of Automated Facial Recognition: On Machinic Ways of Seeing the Face. Transcript.
|Scheduled activity hours|
|Independent study hours|
|Claire Reddleman||Unit coordinator|
The group project will be coordinated using existing resources for digital production.