Teaching photography, film, and interactive media at The New School

 Virgil Wong has a clear, well-organized approach to teaching. His goal, to have students use media as an investigative tool, clearly yielded excellent results … I highly recommend his conceptualization of this course.

– Associate Professor Diane Mitchell

Since Fall 2000, Virgil Wong has taught photography, film, and interactive media as an adjunct faculty member at The New School Master of Arts in Media Studies Program. In 2005, he received The New School’s Faculty Mentor Award for Outstanding Teaching.

Virgil is currently teaching the Media Practices: Concepts course required for all Master’s degree students in their first year of study. This course looks at the character of different media forms, the relationship between forms, and guidelines for choosing which combination is best for a given communications project. Concentrating on design thinking, it offers an experiential tour of the creative toolset and critical precepts of media practice and is the foundation course for additional Media Practice and project-based courses.

Through a series of short projects, students work with sound, the digital still image and its sequencing, lighting and the moving image and digital post-production and distribution techniques. Using simple digital tools, student designers focus on the important primary concepts of digital media making. Additional major software used professionally and in subsequent Media Practice and project-based courses are introduced, though not explored in depth. Outside-class Saturday lab sessions provide additional instruction in production equipment and software techniques.

The course’s goal is to reconnect media designers to their personal sources of creativity. By semester’s end, each student will have completed a series of individual projects combining media formats and a collaborative project, undertaken in the groups’ choice of medium, to satisfy an assigned design problem. The course’s broad goal is to reconnect media designers to their personal sources of creativity and to help orient them to the program’s Media Practice course curriculum.

Fall 2011 Class Portrait. Clockwise from left: Rachel Morrissey, Miranda Shafer, Jessica Kingdon, Robert Rabinovitz, Alex Kelly, Kelly Dafni, Virgil Wong (faculty), Vanessa Maruskin, Adam Klein, Marija Stojnic, and Emmanuel Hernandez. Photo by Marija Stojnic.

 

Syllabus

Week 1 | Introduction
  • Class Description and Structure
  • Syllabus
  • Student Introductions
  • Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Social Media
  • Michael Wesch’s Web 2.0 video: The Machine is Us/ing Us
  • Blaise Aguera y Arcas’s Seadragon and Photosynth (Microsoft Labs)
  • Social Media and the Collective Body
  • The Media Blog
  • Media as Collaboration: Lab Group Projects
Week 2 | Photography and the Pain of Others
  • Lab group presentations
  • Project charter and project planning
  • Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag
  • Media log entry: Notes from Sontag reading
Week 3 | Photography and Illumination
  • History of Photography Lecture
  • ZETTL: “Applied Media Aesthetics”, “The First Aesthetic Field: Light” and “Structuring the First Aesthetic Field: Lighting” (Ch. 2 and 3)
  • Media blog entry: 15 images to illustrate Zettl’s lighting characteristics
  • Media blog entry: Portrait of a Photographer
Week 4 | Composing the Photograph
  • Photography Primer: Aperture, Depth of Field, Shutter Speed
  • Cultural Anthropology or Faceless Portrait (lighting and composition)
  • Media blog entry: 2 paragraphs about the photo shoot experience
  • Media blog entry: Describe how your images illustrate Zettl’s lighting and compositional characteristics
  • ZETTL: “The Two-Dimensional Field: Area”,”The Two-Dimensional Field: Forces Within the Screen” and “Structuring the Two-Dimensional Field” (Ch. 6, 7, and 8)
Week 5 | Photography: Panopticon and Simulacrum (Adobe Photoshop and iPhoto)
  • Photography: Panopticon and Simulacrum Lecture
  • Adobe Photoshop Workshop
  • Composite, Evidence, and Web Page layouts
Week 6 | Photography as Narrative
  • Narrative Lecture and Workshop
  • Reverse-engineering narrative from still images
  • Film Screening: La Jetee (1962) by Chris Marker
Week 7 | Sound as Story and Shape
  • History of Sound Lecture
  • Digital Audio Recording Primer
  • Collecting literal sounds for narrative projects
  • Film Screening: DA Pennebaker’s Daybreak Express (1953)
  • ZETTL: “The Five-Dimensional Field: Sound” and “Structuring the Five-Dimensional Field” (Ch. 17 and 18)
Week 8 | Film and Video Production Concepts
  • Film Planning Workshop and in-class film production shoot
  • Film Screening: When the Days Breaks (1999), animated film by Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby
  • ZETTL: “Building Screen Space: Visualization” (Ch. 11)
Week 9 | Film and Video Post-Production Concepts (Final Cut Pro)
  • Introduction to Final Cut Pro
  • Continuity, Pace, and Rhythm
Week 10 | Creative Obstructions in Film and Video (Adobe After-Effects)
  • Screening: The Five Obstructions (2003) by Jšrgen Leth and Lars Van Trier
  • ZETTL: “Building Screen Space: Visualization” and “The Four-Dimensional Field: Time” (Ch. 11 and 12)
  • Film compositing, animation, and special effects workshop using Adobe After-Effects
Week 11 | Designing the Interactive Space, Part 1 (Photoshop and Dreamweaver)
  • Web/App Design and Development Overview
  • Web Production Processes:
    • Sitemapping and Information Architecture
    • Content Development
    • Design Comps
    • Test Site Production and QA
    • Site Launch
    • Site Promotion/Search Engine Optimization
    • Site Maintenance
  • Wireframes
  • Exquisite Corpse Twitter Tales
Week 12 | Designing the Interactive Space, Part 2
  • Graphic Design: typography, layout, palette, image
  • Making and Breaking the Grid
  • Mood Boards
  • Design Comps in Photoshop
  • Create your own web site with selected class projects; sitemap and design comps
  • Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers
Week 13 | Designing the Interactive Space, Part 3
  • Usability: User Interface Design (UI), User Experience Design (UX)
  • Introduction to HTML and Macromedia Dreamweaver
  • Text formatting, links, and HTML tables
  • Directory, folder, and file hierarchies
  • Using FTP applications
  • Browser and platform compatibility
Week 14 | Designing the Interactive Space, Part 4
  • Mobile Technologies
  • Focus on App Design and Development
  • Motion Capture (Kinect), Augmented Reality, and Robotics
  • Future of Healthcare and Mobile Medical Media
Week 15 | Bridge to Next Semester
  • Next steps in the program
  • Course options for next semester
  • Building a sustainable creative practice within and beyond your Master’s program