Digital Arts & the Environment 2017

Digital Arts & the Environment: VSAR 313

SIGN WAIVERS for the semester
Deborah Small
Office Hours Tuesday 2:30-5:00, and by appointment
Deborah’s Ethnobotany blog

Students with disabilities who require reasonable accommodations must be approved for services by providing appropriate and recent documentation to the Office of Disabled Student Services (DSS). This office is located in Craven Hall 5205, and can be contacted by phone at (760) 750-4905, or TTY (760) 750-4909. Students authorized by DSS to receive reasonable accommodations should meet with me during my office hours in order to ensure confidentiality.

Students will be expected to adhere to standards of academic honesty and integrity, as outlined in the Student Academic Honesty Policy.  All assignments must be original work, clear and error-free. All ideas/material that are borrowed from other sources must have appropriate references to the original sources.  Any quoted material should give credit to the source and be punctuated accordingly.

Information on what constitutes plagiarism can be found at:

Disruptions are not tolerated. Read for complete information.

Our four hour class meetings require your complete attention. If you engage with the class by: doing work from other classes, surfing the web, facebook, youtube, gaming, texting, taking calls, hiding behind a personal computer or tablet, listening to music, chatting online, or otherwise avoiding participation—you will be marked absent for the class meeting. I encourage a strong sense of commitment to the class, which will be apparent in your work and reflected in your grade.

EQUIPMENT CHECK-OUT: Chad Huggins and Albert Rascon
You may only check out equipment during the posted hours. Checkout hours are posted on the door to Arts 239.
Chad Huggins: Instructional Support Technician III
PH: (760) 750-8052   Fax: (760) 750-3090

Use your own hi-end digital cameras and tripods or check out our Canon cameras from ARTS 239. You can reserve the equipment online.

Julianne Kost: Getting Started with Lightroom
Julianne Kost: Recent Lightroom Tutorials
Julianne Kost: What’s New in Lightroom CC
or, if you haven’t used Lightroom or Photoshop, or even if you have and you want to home your skills: $25/month

ALWAYS back-up your work. Buy an external hard drive immediately, or check out an external hard drive for the semester from check-out.

Arts 239 is open so you can do your homework assignments. Hours are posted on the door. Labs are open 24/7, except when a class is in session. Please never let anyone in if you don’t recognize them. All software is also available on computers in the library on the 2nd floor.

The Digital Arts & the Environment class we will investigate a broad range of artistic practices and contemporary artists who use digital media to comment on and shape current environmental debates.

The course will explore a broad range of environmental perspectives to enrich our understanding of current environmental concerns and their interpretation through digital media, with a primary focus on photographic practices.You will engage in serious critical inquiry as well as hands-on experimentation and investigation with digital technologies, including DSLR cameras and cutting-edge software for editing and enhancing your images. You will develop skills by learning panoramic and HDR imaging, formal and informal outdoor lighting  techniques, and the use of plugins, such as the Google Nik Collection, for processing your photos, among other techniques.

Students will experiment with different conceptual approaches to art making and develop aesthetic strategies for engaging audiences in particular environment concerns. We will be concerned with environmental processes in this class. The class will combine lectures, screenings, group discussions, research, presentations, and individual and collaborative projects.

We also will explore the work of contemporary environmental artists and photographers, and their documentary and experimental uses of digital media. In addition, you will attend the photographic exhibitions at MOPA, the Museum of Photographic Arts, in Balboa Park, after February 4, when the new Prix Pictet exhibition opens.

The class is conducted as a workshop: all students must participate actively and consistently. Part of the class will be devoted to the work of contemporary photographers, and to the development and discussion of your projects.


4 Feb, 2017 – 29 May, 2017

The Prix Pictet prize highlights important social and environmental issues through the use of photography. In its sixth cycle, 12 artists examine the Disorder they see in the world. The exhibition Prix Pictet: Disorder brings global attention to a range of concerns from mass production to the effects of war to natural disasters.

Artists include:
Valérie Belin
Ilit Azoulay
Matthew Brandt
Maxim Dondyuk
Alixandra Fazzina
Ori Gersht
John Gossage
Pieter Hugo
Gideon Mendel
Sophie Ristelhueber
Brent Stirton
Yang Yongliang

For the theme of this cycle, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan elaborates in his essay for the accompanying catalogue:

Our times are defined by disorder. Our mastery over manifold aspects of life has deluded us into thinking that we have bent the planet to our will. Yet the fragility of that assumption is exposed with each new pandemic, earthquake, tsunami or drought. With each passing day our illusion of order is shattered.

1. Learn the language
Software: We will focus on Adobe Lightroom and the Google Nik Collection for editing and enhancing your images. You will learn the software through classroom lectures and use of the online tutorials. Learning will take place via classroom lectures, demonstrations, online tutorials at, and discussions and critiques of the projects that you will complete for the class.

Digital cameras, lenses, tripods: In this class, you continue to use DSLR cameras and various lenses, focusing on understanding the controls on your camera to effectively manipulate the exposure triangle: aperture/depth of field, shutter speed, and ISO, to create compelling images. 

Contemporary Artists: Through classroom lectures, discussion, screenings, and web research, we will explore contemporary environmental photographers and artists. By viewing and discussing a broad range of artistic practices, you will learn how art making is a means to discover and develop your ideas about the world and to extend the power, clarity, and range of your voice and vision.

You will blog about 2 online environmental photographers who will inspire your own art practices and final project. Each of the two blog posts will a minimum of 250 words, or the equivalent of one page. You also will write a one page, 250 word post about your MOPA visit focusing on one photographer whose work is compelling to you from the Prix Pictet exhibition.

For these lengthier posts, you will research and study their work, and then write on your blog about the work in relation to your own: what inspires you about the photographer’s work, how has their work has influenced your way of seeing and photographing the world, etc.

Student Learning Outcomes B
Using the Language/Creating Artwork: For the class, you will complete the following four projects:
1. BlogYou will create a blog at for weekly posts of all thoughts, ideas, research, and images.

2. Magazine Project Proposal: I’d like to encourage collaboration, although your magazine can also be an individual project. If collaborative, it has to be incorporate the work of the collaborators equally. One can contriubte more text, one more images, one graphic design, etc.

3. Final Magazine, Website, or other Platform Project which will include a substantial amount of research and writing/reflection about your relationship to the images you have produced and the subject matter of your project. Much of this can be taken from your weekly blog posts. This could also be an environmental campaign, a series of posters, etc .

4. Funes Digital Arts Competition: you will submit online to the annual competition your best photographs and write a blog post about why you chose the particular images you submitted

Attendance is mandatory! Part of your final evaluation will focus on your ability to respond thoughtfully to other students’ artwork and to work collaboratively with each other. It is essential that you attend class regularly. Two unexcused absences will result in lowering your final grade.

FIELDTRIPS close to the university will be scheduled during class time later in the spring when there will be more light available to shoot.

10% Class Participation
35% Blog
15% Final Environmental Project Proposal, Supporting Research, and materials
10% Funes Digital Arts Competition
30% Final Environmental Magazine Project, Website, or media platform best suited to your content


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