Stevens Institute of Technology
College of Arts and Letters


Fall 2008

Monday, 6-8:45 pm, Morton 201

Instructor: Mariam Ghani
Office: Morton 206
Office hours: Monday, 4:30-5:30 pm
Telephone extension: n/a
Email address:

Course description:
Digital Imaging III is an advanced studio art course in digital image-making concepts and techniques, allowing in-depth exploration of extended computer-based photo and compositing projects. Aesthetic issues are balanced with technical issues, and expanded research into both artistic concerns and specific skill sets can be tailored to individual interests. The class combines demonstrations, presentations and tutorials with hands-on, project-based activities applying acquired techniques. There will be opportunity for in-class discussions, critiques and presentations. Students are expected to demonstrate time management skills, work independently and meet deadlines.

Prerequisite: HAR311 or permission of instructor. Does not fulfill general humanities requirements; may be taken as a free elective.

CAL goals applicable to this course:
1) Promote awareness of the societal impact of one's future profession.
2) Promote a fuller understanding of the traditional humanities and social sciences through the study of science and/or technology.
3) Improve writing and/or public speaking skills.
4) Increase one's love of learning for its own sake.

Course objectives:
During this course, students will:
Further develop their technical skills in digital imaging, including familiarity with software, color management, image input, flow and print output;
Synthesize technical information and research and correlate theory with practice;
Build up their digital portfolios by creating both practical projects and a body of digital work that expresses a cohesive aesthetic;
Propose and produce a sophisticated, self-directed project that demonstrates their conceptual and formal skills as well as their ability to work independently to deadline.

Course structure:
DI3 is a studio course that meets weekly for 2 hours and 45 minutes. We will split the classes between demonstrations, tutorials, presentations, critiques, discussions and lab time, with one break. Course objectives will be met through graded projects, technical skill-building in demonstrations and tutorials, readings, exposure to artwork, critique and discussion, and presentations by the instructor, students and guests. Reading assignments include specific requirements for written responses. You will also be required to research and prepare one in-class presentation on a topic from the list at Stephen Wilson's site, including discussion of at least one artist exploring this area of research; topics must be approved by me in advance. A written proposal will be required for your final project, in a format to be detailed in class. If an assignment is produced collaboratively, all group members are expected to contribute equally to the planning, execution, and reporting of the work, and you will be asked to submit a written evaluation of each group member's contribution. All writing handed in for this class must be LEGIBLE, properly formatted and preferably typed. Depending on the shows available, we may plan a field trip to Manhattan later in the semester.

Students are expected to keep a course notebook or sketchbook to develop ideas, make sketches, document experiments and results, and to take notes during lectures and demonstrations. Document all critiques throughout the semester. Your notebook will be reviewed as a part of your final grade. The professor is available for "in-progress" critiques during lab time, office hours and by appointment. All projects are due for critique on the assigned dates and will be handed in for a grade the following week (students have the opportunity to integrate the constructive criticism into their projects and make changes for a better grade). Late projects will receive a 1/2 grade point reduction for each week handed in late, except for excused absences. If absent when a project is due for a grade, you may give your project to another student to hand in, or you must accompany your project the following week with documentation of an excused absence (illness or emergency).

Office hours/meetings:
Morton 206 is an office shared by several ARTC faculty members, which does not have a phone extension installed. I will usually have office hours on Mondays from 4:30-5:30 pm. Please send me an email if you are planning to stop by my office hours so that I can confirm that I will be in the office that day. You can also reach me by email if you have questions or concerns about the class. We will schedule individual meetings at least once during the semester, to discuss your final project proposals and your progress in the course. If you are having any difficulties in the course, please do not hesitate to ask for extra help.

This course requires a certain amount of time outside of class to conceptualize, plan, and produce assigned projects. All students must have a user account to use the Mac lab, which may be obtained in Leib 104 (contact The lab is open on a regular schedule with lab attendants present (see schedule posted on the door of the Mac lab). The lab may be available when another class is in progress at the discretion of the individual instructor. A critical aspect of maintaining the functionality of the lab is to report any technical problems to lab attendants and your instructor. When reporting, make sure you indicate on which computer the problem is occurring, what software was running, and exactly what steps caused the error. While your instructor will make every effort to ensure that the lab is serving the needs of this course, the upkeep of the lab and the resolution of technical issues are not, in fact, part of your instructor's job; the lab is currently not supported by ISSA so your instructors are trying to fill the gaps as best they can. Remember: you may only have food and drink in the lab if you keep it in the back, away from the computers and any unshelved equipment. Eating and drinking in the lab is a privilege that will be revoked if abused.

Students are responsible for backing up all working and final files. The Mac Lab is no longer networked, so you can't save files to the server, and your files are not guaranteed to remain on any machine's hard drive for long. So: save early and often to your primary external storage device, and BE SURE to back up your most important files. Corrupt, lost, or overwritten files will not be accepted as a valid reason for missing a project due date. Keep ALL files for each project until after the end of the semester.

Equipment Checkout:
You are required to sign an equipment waiver at the beginning of the semester. You will need to be registered for this course and submit the signed equipment waiver before you can check out equipment. The new checkout system temporarily in place requires that students in a studio/lab course check equipment out from their instructor at the end of class each week, and bring it back at the beginning of class the next week. Depending on the student/equipment ratio (keep in mind that video students have first priority on video equipment, and music students first priority on sound equipment), students may need to be divided into production groups for the purposes of checkout (usually groups of 3). In that case, one member of the group must check out all equipment needed by all members of the group to complete assignments for the week from the instructor at the end of class. You must then make arrangements amongst yourselves to hand off the equipment during the week so that all members of the group have time to complete the assignment. The equipment must be returned to the lab at the beginning of the next week's class so that the instructor can check that all the equipment is still in good order. If equipment is not returned, or is returned broken, all members of the group will be held liable. So please, keep track of the equipment entrusted to your group at all times. Also, please do not check out any equipment unless you have already been instructed in its use. BE HONEST about whether you know how to use equipment; if you don't, your instructor can cover it in class.
Please note: Do not keep equipment in your car. Do not keep it in hot or dusty areas. Always check your equipment when checking it out to make sure it works and has all of the parts you are signing for, as you are responsible for everything you sign for. If a piece of equipment is damaged, tell us immediately so that it can be fixed.
According to the terms of the required equipment waiver:
Report any and all malfunctions, damage, problems, etc. with media equipment immediately to the appropriate person in charge. You will also be penalized if you keep equipment beyond the end of your check-out period. ALL EQUIPMENT MUST BE RETURNED BY THE LAST DAY OF THE SEMESTER. ABSOLUTELY NO EXCEPTIONS.
Please remember that it is your responsibility to make sure everyone has equal access to functioning equipment. This is part of your grade.

Notebook/sketchbook and pencil/pen (always bring to class and any outside trips)
Portable storage device: Firewire drive (required for ARTC majors) or 1 GB USB Flash Drive
Printing costs based on size/quantity, etc. The Epson 9800 costs $5/linear foot for 24" paper and $9/linear foot for 44" paper
CDs and portfolio case for portfolio
Paint and/or drawing/marking tools and/or collage materials and glue (optional)
Museum admission and travel to Manhattan (possible)
**If you are planning to continue working with digital imaging after graduation, ARTC recommends buying Adobe CS3 for your own laptop (the lab is still running CS2) while you still have a Stevens educational discount. Talk to Professor Harrison if you need advice on this point.**

Required texts:
Articles distributed online and/or in class - see links in Schedule section of syllabus
A list of additional resources available in the Stevens library can be found here.

Please note that graphic and/or explicit images and/or subject matter may be part of the artworks shown and discussed in this course; any concerns regarding this matter should be brought to the instructor's attention at the very beginning of the course.

Writing center:
If you are having difficulty with writing assignments for this course, please see me during my office hours, or take advantage of the tutoring available in the Writing and Communications Institute (drop-in hours at the Humanities Resource Center, M-Th, 3-5, Morton 210).

Adding and/or dropping the course:
Consult the registrar's website ( for information re: add/drop policies.

Honor board policies:
Enrollment into the undergraduate class of Stevens Institute of Technology signifies a student's commitment to the Honor System. It is the responsibility of each student to become acquainted with and to uphold the ideals set forth in the Honor System Constitution. Specific student responsibilities include: Maintaining honesty and fair play in all aspects of academic life at Stevens; Writing and signing the pledge, in full, on all submitted academic work; Reporting any suspected violations to an Honor Board member or to the Dean of Student Development; Cooperating with the Honor Board during investigations and hearings.
The pledge signifies that the work submitted by a student is indeed his/her own. There is one designated pledge to be used for tests, homework assignments, lab reports, and computer projects. The pledge shall be written in full and signed by the student on all submitted academic work. Any references used (including texts, tutors, classmates, etc.) should be listed below the written pledge: "I pledge my honor that I have abided by the Stevens Honor System."

Students with disabilities:
If you require special accommodations due to a disability, or if you need individual arrangements should the building be evacuated, you must inform the office of Student Counseling and Psychological Services, Dr. Terence Hannigan, Director, in the Howe Center, 7th floor (x5177), and ask that he inform the instructor as early as possible.


Course criteria
Quality of ideas, quality of work executed and ability to articulate and explain your thought processes.
Amount of time, effort, and thought given to coursework.
Technical skills mastered.
Understanding of the historical and theoretical material presented, and ability to relate that material to an overall understanding of digital and experimental media, as built up through other coursework and in your own practice.
Willingness to explore and take genuine risks in your work as an artist.
Participation in all levels of course activities.

Department criteria:

AOutstandingInsightful, generous, energeticExcellent form & contentAlways prepared for class, makes intelligent & considered contributionsAlways present, work in on time
BGoodInquisitive, engagedGood form & contentUsually prepared for class, able to make interesting contributionsAlways present, work in on time
CAverageJust sufficientHolds together, but unconvincingNot always prepared, only able to make obligatory contributionsMisses some classes, work sometimes late
DPoorLimited, formulaicWork thrown together just before classOnly makes very limited contributionsExcessive absences, work late & incomplete
FUnsatisfactoryVirtually noneVirtually noneMakes almost no contributionAbsent most of the time

Grading policies:
Your grade will be based on a number of short assignments made during the semester, and a final project. For each project you will receive two grades of equal weight-one for concept and one for technique-that will be averaged into one grade. Your writing assignments are graded for completeness and punctuality, with extra points for style.
Grade allocation is as follows:
* assignments 55%
* final project 25%
* class participation 15%
* writing 5%
Assignments will be graded on a scale of four. Your final course grade will be determined as follows: 4=A; 3.67=A-; 3.33=B+; 3=B; 2:67=B-; 2.33=C+; 2=C; 1.67=C-; 1.33=D+; 1=D; .67=D-; below this is an F. Once issued, all grades are final and will not be changed unless a student hands in a substantially revised project. I reserve the right to determine borderline grades on a case-by-case basis. If you have questions about how grades are assigned in this course, please bring them up at the beginning of the semester, not the end.

Attendance & participation:
Your attendance will be factored into your class participation grade. Unexcused absences and unexcused lateness will reduce your participation grade incrementally. If you have a valid reason for your absence and/or lateness, send me an email before the beginning of class. Other factors in determining your participation grade are: your use of time during tutorials and open labs; your participation in critiques of classmates' work; and your consistency in coming prepared to work, with all necessary research and materials in hand.


A note on changes in the syllabus:
The instructor may modify or alter the syllabus to make up for lost classes due to weather conditions or health, when she feels it would help to attain course objectives, or for any other such reasons. If you do not attend class, it is your responsibility to find out if any changes were made.

Download this syllabus as a 150K PDF file (last updated October 2008).

Monday, August 25th
Week 1 - Introduction + Overview
Review syllabus + class structure, lab + equipment checkout protocol
Skill self-assessment: list your strengths and weaknesses, both technical and conceptual
What specific skills do you want to build in this class? What basic skills need to be reviewed? Which advanced skills are the most interesting? Make a list of special topics to explore in depth and email it to me so that I can incorporate them into my lesson plans.
Due in 2 weeks: (1) Read "The Paradoxes of Digital Photography" (1995) by Lev Manovich online. Respond to the following questions: What does Manovich mean by "the paradoxical logic of the digital photograph"? Had this essay been written in 2008 rather than 1995, would he have taken the same position / made the same arguments on digital photography? Why or why not? (2) Either find or shoot six photographic images that constitute a coherent series, both formally and conceptually. If you are appropriating images, e.g. downloading them from the net, they must be available under fair use or the correct Creative Commons license (see or Copy/capture your images to one folder titled YourName_DI3_Project1, name each image with the same name plus a number, and bring your images in to the next class on your storage device. Be prepared to explain why you see these images as a series.

Monday, September 1st
Labor Day Holiday - No classes

Monday, September 8th
Week 2 - Basic Skill Review I: Compositing
Discussion/critique of reading and serial assignment. How well does each image work on its own? As part of the series? Discuss composition, balance, sequence.
Look: Merz, detournement.
Demo: Compositing with layers, masks, selection tools, free transform, brushes/erasers and image adjustment.
Lab: Begin experimentation/work on Bricolage project using your six-image series, whatever else you have at hand, and the following Photoshop How Tos: 1) Under Workspace - recovery & undo -restore, history & snapshots; 2) Under Color management - consistent color; calibrate your monitor; color profiles; soft proofs; 3) Under Color & tonal adjustments - understanding color adjustments; adjusting image color & tone; 4) Under retouching & transforming: transforming objects; liquify filter; adjusting crop -transform perspective while cropping; 5) Selecting (all); 6) Layers (all); Painting: tools; creating & modifying brushes; blending modes.
Due next week: (1) proposal for a research topic; (2) Project #1: Bricolage. Read the Wikipedia article on bricolage and create a composite image in the bricoleur spirit, using as source material (any of) the six images you brought to class and whatever else is available in your immediate environment. Do not search for additional images online; you may, however, use any images already on your hard drive or scan anything in the lab. Your final image should be sized at 300 dpi for printing at 8.5" x 11" and should demonstrate use of at least three techniques discussed in class. Bring the image and a photo-quality print of the image to class.

Monday, September 15th
Week 3 - Basic Skill Review II: Image Making
Discussion/critique of bricolage projects. What techniques and source materials were used? How much were they transformed and why? How does the composite function as collage? How does the final composite function as an individual image?
Demo: Digital photography skills; control and adjustment; type
Look/discuss: sample logos; color theory and design principles they employ
Lab: Begin work on Brand Recognition project.
Also: Individual meetings during lab time to discuss research topics
Project #2: Brand Recognition. Design a logo that can be scaled to use in a range of final formats (from business cards to billboards). Your logo should be for a company, organization or group that already exists, but doesn't yet have an immediately identifiable logo - for example, the Art & Tech program could use a logo; the ISE also needs one ( Remember that logos establish brand identities; they must be unique, but still functional.

On Tuesday, September 16th, Prof. Ghani will be on a panel with Karen Finley and Steve Kurtz from the Critical Art Ensemble at NYU's Silver Center, 7-9 pm; see flyer (under Events) for details.

Monday, September 22nd
Week 4 - Special Topics in Photoshop
Presentation schedule handed out
Demo: Advanced retouching & image repair; sharpening & feathering
Lab: Begin work on Radical Retouching projects.
Due next week: (1) Read Critical Art Ensemble, chapter #5 from Digital Resistance - PDF download at and respond to the following questions: Give an example of the digital "culture of the copy" described by CAE; how does CAE differentiate the theater of the everyday from the theater of information? (2) Project #3: Radical Retouching. As we all know, retouching is usually used to "normalize" or perfect an image - that is, to remove perceived flaws in the image, whether they are the artifacts of the imaging process (e.g. dust, spots, bad pixels, jagged edges) or features of the subject that someone wants to cover up (e.g. wrinkles, dark circles, stray hairs, extra fat). For this assignment, you must use the same tools for the opposite purpose - taking a "normal" image and twisting it as far from normal as you can. Your source material should be a relatively tightly framed photograph of a faceand/or body.

Monday, September 29th
Week 5 - Basic Skill Review III: Vectors
Critique of retouching projects
Demo: Using Illustrator to prepare vector graphics, at scale and at size
Lab: Use Illustrator to mock up several scaled-down options for text signage, paying attention to all the elements of typography; pick the one that works best and prepare a file at the actual size to install the signage on the wall in the lab. Save your work - if someone comes up with an interesting idea we might produce it.
Due next week: Download either Processing or Nodebox (both free and open source), install the software, read the documentation and try to write a piece of code that generates a dynamic image. Bring your attempt in to class and we will debug together.

Monday, October 6th
Week 6 - Special Topics in Illustrator
Guest Lecturer: Matthew Radune
Demo: Using Illustrator for scale modeling, mapping and tracing; using slices to create web graphics
Lab: Use Illustrator to create an installation diagram.
Due next week: Read "Image Future" by Lev Manovich online and respond to the following questions: What is Manovich's concept of "uneven development"? How does he use the example of the Matrix films to imagine the future of digital images?

Monday, October 13th: Field trip - class meets on Wednesday, October 15th instead
Week 7 - Commercial Photography Workflow
Field trip to K Studio in Williamsburg, guest lecture by principal/photographer Kirsten Thoen
Due next week: (1) Final project proposal; (2) Read "Simulacra & Simulations" by Jean Baudrillard online and respond to the following questions: How does Baudrillard define the simulacrum? What is the difference between the order of the sign and the order of simulation?

Monday, October 20th
Week 8 - Mockups + Markups
Demo: InDesign layout; Acrobat editing, compiling, pre-press tools
Lab: Begin work on your Campaign project. Also: Individual meetings during class to review final project proposals.
Due next week: Project #4: Campaign. Using Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, design a tri-fold brochure or series of six flyers around an issue being debated in the presidential election. You may use relevant online or other sources to find text content, but you should create the graphic elements yourself. Print a draft brochure and fold it to make sure you have aligned all the elements correctly; or if you have designed flyers, print all six and paper-clip them in the final sequence. Bring the folded printout in to class.

Monday, October 27th
Week 9 - 3-D to 2-D using Sketchup, Blender, Illustrator & Photoshop
Critique of brochure projects.
Demo: quick 3-D modeling in Google Sketchup; exporting from Sketchup or Blender to Illustrator or Photoshop for detail rendering
Discussion of Baudrillard reading. Examples of simulacra and simulation.
Look: Second Life art; artist games modeled in Blender
Due next week: (1) Work on your final project; (2) Design a Second Life avatar for an artist you admire (preferably dead, or fictional).

Monday, November 3rd
Week 10 - Guest Lecture: Dynamic Imaging with Processing & Nodebox
Guest lecturer David Lu
Due next week: Project #5: (De)Generative. Use either Processing or Nodebox to create a series of elements programmed to algorithmically either come together or break apart. Snapshot 4-6 stages of the dynamic image generated (enough to show how the elements change over time), print them and bring your code and the printouts to class.

Monday, November 10th
Week 11 - Output Options + Prep
Critique of generative projects.
Lecture/demo: Print vs. screen output resolutions; scaling & dpi; the 10% and integer rules of resizing; large-format printing with the Epson 9800; other printing methods; inkjet handling; treating/re-working the print; mounting & framing
Look: Digital C-prints, iris prints, inkjet prints on various substrates
Due next week: (1) First set of research presentations; (2)Pick two projects from the first half of the semester and output / print / treat them using one of the methods discussed in class.

Monday, November 17th
Week 12 - Web Workflow
Critique prints.
Presentations I Demo: Prepping images for screen output with Photoshop & ImageReady; image mapping and HTML generation in Image Ready; naming images for the web; CMS options; alternative web workflow with iPhoto or Aperture
Look: web galleries
Lab: Prep thumbnail and 640x480 JPEGs of all the images you have produced this semester.
Due next week: (1) Second set of research presentations; (2) continue working on your final project.

Monday, November 24th
Week 13 - Portfolios
Presentations II
Lecture/demo: expectations & strategies for print, PDF, web portfolios
Look: artist & designer websites
Lab: Work on your portfolios and final projects.
Due next week: All your projects from the course, including your final project, organized into a professional portfolio (print, PDF and/or online).

Monday, December 1st
Last class - Final project presentation