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New I.S. Course: The Object of Networks

Instructor: Ryan Hoover

Posted 04.02.10

New I.S. Course: The Object of Networks, Fall 2010

Instructor: Ryan Hoover

From everyday exchanges on Facebook to ambiguous fears of Al‐Qaeda, we live in an era that seems to be dominated by networks. This course examines the "object of networks" in two separate but related senses. We will consider the purpose of various networks and examine how they function. It is said that networked systems offer liberating alternatives to authoritarian power structures. In many ways this is true, and we will explore strategies whereby this approach and related technologies can be employed by artists. However, we will not settle for naïve clichés about freedom and networks, and will investigate the complex ways in which power is exercised in and via these complex systems. In the second sense of the title, this course will also examine the object as it exists and functions within networks. Post‐modernity has moved us away from monolithic autonomous sculpture, and indicated that sculptural objects gain meaning from the historical, cultural, spatial, and social networks in which they exist. This proposition can also be inverted. Thinkers such as Bruno Latour suggest that objects are actually active agents within these networks and help to sculpt society, culture, space, and history. Our aim will be to employ a developed understanding of how objects function in this sense in order to create sculptural projects that attain a uniquely dynamic presence in the world. This course will be academically rigorous; reading and discussion will play a very prominent role. However, this is most certainly a studio course, and there will be multiple projects where students will be making objects. The concept of "objects" will be interrogated and expanded throughout the course, and a wide variety of media will be encouraged and supported. It is important to note that we will be employing concepts that are both advanced and subtle. This requires the work be created with technical skills, formal sensitivity, and attention to detail that matches. Because this is an advanced class, the assignments will not be narrowly scripted. Rather, each student will be responsible for processing the concepts covered in class, conducting independent research, and successfully employing these ideas in their sculpture. Class instruction will support these goals and help each student create works that are meaningful to that artist and that speak articulately about
contemporary situations.