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Live!: A History of Art for Artists, Animators and Gamers

Explore art history from the artist's perspective. Learn how contemporary artists, animators and gamers work from the art of the past as part of their creative process, while building your own skills in visual analysis and creative and critical thinking.


Course at a Glance

About the Course

This course approaches the questions of “art” and “history” from the perspective of contemporary makers of art (sculpture, painting, photography, performance, installation and more), animators (whether character/story-based or experimental) and gamers, asking how artists actively make a history for their own practices by thinking about the creative process as a “conversation” with a wide range of art from the past. Why are ground-breaking artists so often historically-minded (and yet tend to break all the rules of conventional history-telling)? How do animators themselves “write” the largely unwritten history of their art through quotation, transposition and mash-ups? Why should contemporary gamers look at classical painting anyway? 

This course will combine short video lectures/interviews and interactive quizzes with independent, peer-reviewed sketchbook and field work (suggested visits to local museums, film viewings, etc.) It is intended to give the student a background in a wide range of visual practices and a greater familiarity with techniques of historical analysis. It will help to build skills in visual analysis, and will also provide insight into the creative culture of CalArts, where a certain portion of these art histories have been made in the first place.

Course Syllabus

Week 1: Introduction
Week 2: Story
Week 3: Character
Week 4: World-Making
Week 5: Time & Motion
Week 6: Reality Distortion
Week 7: Novelty
Week 8: Mash-Ups
Week 9: Conclusions

Recommended Background

Some college-level experience in the arts and humanities will be helpful.  And the more the student is willing to complement classwork with independent looking and thinking about art, animation and video games (as well as comic books and graphic novels, film, etc.), the more they will get out of the class.  Remember:  Art is an ongoing process and art practice can't end in the classroom, wherever that classroom might be.

Course Format

This class will consist of video lectures (about 10 minutes in length) combined with video interviews with guest artists and virtual "field trips" to artist studios and workplaces, museums and galleries.  Lectures will focus on key topics, including "story," "character," "language," "time," "dimensionality," "novelty," etc., exposing students to a wide range of art from around the world.  Students will be required to keep a sketchbook, complete "looking, thinking and making" assignments for peer assessment.  A final exam will test comprehension of key concepts.


Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this class?

Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.

What resources will I need for this class?

You will need an internet connection, a 9x12 sketchbook and materials of your choice (pencil, pens, photos and other collage materials), a camera or other digital image recorder, and time enough to look, read and think. Each student will be encouraged to make use of local resources, including museums, galleries and libraries.  Selected readings will be available for free. An optional reading list will suggest books for purchase.

Why should I take this class?

Visual media is all around us--it's as much our "real world" as is our physical surroundings.  As an artist, you need to understand how looking at and responding to art is a critical part of the creative process. As a member of the media sphere, it's important to be a critical viewer. Otherwise, you're just being "sold."

What can I do to prepare for this class?

Be curious and interested in the world around you. Go to as many film screenings, art exhibitions and events as you can. Keep a sketchbook, if you don't already. Read. Make work. And if you'd like, join our Facebook page, where you can find more resources, make connections, and get a preview of what's in store as we prepare to launch the class in February 2014.