Spring 2014
Robert Ransick [rransick at bennington.edu]
Prerequisites: None.
Credits: 4
Time: Wednesday, 8:20 a.m. – 12noon

Course Description:

This course is an introduction to creative practices within digital technologies specifically focused on Internet based fine art projects. A broad survey of web-based digital arts is examined in tandem with an overview of tools necessary to create your own work. These include HTML, CSS, Photoshop, content management systems, and a basic introduction to JavaScript. Students apply knowledge and skills to web-based creative projects throughout the term. There are lectures, reading assignments, studio projects, and critiques during the course designed to aid the student in developing visual literacy and critical thinking skills in relation to the digital arts.


Active student participation throughout all aspects of this course will make your experience much more meaningful and is necessary for the successful completion of the assigned work. There are reading/research assignments, weekly discussions, student presentations, critiques and the production of work during this course. Students are expected to be present for all class meetings. Please email me if you must miss a class. Chronic lateness and/or more than 2 absences will seriously jeopardize your standing in this course.

Students will be evaluated based on the following: Participation/attitude, creative/conceptual work, technical dexterity and progress over the term.

I would like you to commit to the following this semester:

  1. That you will be respectful of both your peers and my time and efforts with your own: that you will work your hardest, be self-motivated, learn through trial and failure and share what you learn and/or know freely with all.
  2. Push yourself beyond the bounds of your comfort zone and be brave, adventurous and surprising.

Midterm Project:

The first portion of the term will be focused on learning the skills necessary to build a personal website for each student to house their ongoing creative work etc. We will look at principles of web design, information architecture, image optimization and best practice strategies.

Final Project:

Building on class readings and skills acquired students create a web-based artistic project of their own design. The instructor must approve projects and all work is to be located on individual websites. Please note that the final is to be an artistic project — designing your friends website etc. will not be acceptable.

>> Late work is not accepted!<<


All students are expected to contribute in class on a regular basis. Each student is also expected to create and maintain a personal website for this class. All research, documentation, and creative work should be posted on your site for peer review. Individual websites should be updated regularly and include all of your work for this course. In-class presentation materials should be located on your website.

Student Presentations:

Each student will be assigned an artist or collective to make a brief (10-15 minute) presentation on. Presentation materials — text, image, links etc. — are to take the form of a web page.

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Office hours/help:

I am available for technical help or to discuss individual projects via office hours and email. If you would like to schedule a time to meet please send me an email. Do not leave voice mail! I check email frequently and will usually respond within a few hours.

Chris Chenier is the Digital Arts Technician and has regular help hours each week. For more information, please visit the POD website.

Recommended books:

HTML5 Pocket Reference, by Jennifer Niederst Robbins, O’Reilly, 2013.

CSS Pocket Reference: Visual Presentation for the Web, by Eric Meyer, O’Reilly Press, 2011.

CSS Mastery: Advanced Web Standards Solutions, by Andy Budd, Friends of Ed, 2009.

Photoshop CS5 for Windows and Macintosh: Visual QuickStart Guide, by Elaine Weinmann, Peter Lourekas

JavaScript: The Definitive Guide: Activate Your Web Pages , by David Flanagan, O’Reilly Press, 2011.

This schedule is a guide and will change over the course of the term, check back often.


Session 1: February 19
Introduction to the course.
What is digital art? What is internet art?
Intro to HTML and BBEdit.

Session 2: February 26

Discuss readings and work.
Bennington server space/accounts. FTP. HTML and CSS.

Handout: Rachel Greene, Web Work, A History of Internet Art, Art Forum


Create biographical text-based web page inspired by Heath Bunting’s _readme.html.

HTML Dog HTML beginner tutorial (use BBEdit).

Session 3: March 5

Discuss readings and work.
Photoshop, site design and architecture.


From Internet Art, “Chapter 1, Early Internet Art”. page 31-71.

Student presentations:
Alex Hovet: Natalie Bookchin
Kate Davis: Olia Lialina

Write one-page html document in response to the Internet Art reading using BBedit and an external style sheet. Discuss at least 2 artists and their work from the reading. Be sure to include links and experiment with font, color etc.

HTML Dog CSS beginner tutorial (use BBEdit).

Session 4: March 12

Discuss readings and work.
Review work to date. CSS Layout.
Image optimization with Photoshop.

Work on layout proposal.
(Don’t forget about resource links regarding color, type, layout etc. here.)

Chapter 7, Page Design from Web Style Guide.

Student presentations:
Jenny Sonenberg: Mark Napier
Charlotte O’Dair: Jodi.org

HTML Dog HTML intermediate tutorial (use BBEdit). (Skip javascript)
HTML Dog CSS intermediate tutorial (use BBEdit).
Re-create the one page response from last week using elements discussed in this weeks tutorials (div and span selectors etc.) Do not use javascript.

Session 5: March 19

Scanning. Work on layout proposal.
Individual meetings with Robert.

Chapter 4, Interface Design from Web Style Guide.

Site map/outline for student pages. Draft design/layout (in Photoshop) of home page and digital arts page (minimum) for meeting with Robert. These should be jpegs on your web server.

Session 6: March 26
Work on sites in class.

Student presentations:
Santa Wolanczyk: MTAA
Annabel Willis: Jeff Baij


Two column layout.

Present revised site map/outline and design to the class for input. Assets for site should be ready (photographs, writing etc.)

Session 7: April 2
Review work to date.
Work on sites in class.

Student presentations:
Matt Hoeffel: Marisa Olson
Emily Sherman: Steve Lambert

Personal sites should be near completion.


Session 8: April 16

Midterm critique

Student sites are to be complete, on student server (your website) and working.


Session 9: April 30

Introduction to WordPress.

Student presentation:
Katherine Parker: Michael Mandiberg
Arthur Jongebloed: Minerva Cuevas

The following sections about WordPress:
Using Themes

Session 10: May 7

Student presentation:
Sarah Shames: Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries
Maya Laner: Josh On
Thuy Nguyen: Jonathan Harris

– First draft of ideas for final project. You should have a page on your website that contains a paragraph description of your idea along with sketches/images and a site outline/map. Individual discussions with Robert.
– Style child theme in wordPress to have a look and feel that relates to your main website.

Session 11: May 14
Final ideas presentation


– Presentation of ideas for final project to the class. Description of the project along with sketches, site map etc. should be located on your website.

– Complete the entire “Basic” JavaScript tutorial–up to the chapter on “events”. And HTML events.
– Create a simple page that uses the JavaScript event with an image map as per this example. This will require research on making “image maps.”

Session 12: May 21

Student presentation:
Nicole Lee: Brooke Singer
Thuy Nguyen: Jonathan Harris

Work on finals.
Review work to date.

Session 13: May 28

Final projects discussion and critique.

Last class. Final projects due. (All work from the term must be complete and located on student web pages by the start of class.)