This class is a pre-production for a future project whether for a projection, an animation or installation. Research will be undertaken, with this research presented.
A catalogue of images, materials objects, and storyboarding along with creating a short tests for a longer project will be completed by the end of the term. Various situations, and presentation formats and locations will be discussed.
A project already started can be included in the class with permission of instructor.
How to take measure of place is a question that has long resonated in the American imagination, and thiw course considers both the geography and the voices that provide the foundation for current environmental writing. The Exploration of the Colorado River and its Canyons by John Wesley Powell, The Maine Woods by H. D. Thoreau, and Travels in Alaska by John Muir offer occasion to discuss the sublime, scientific discovery, and emerging ideas of the value of nature. A transcendentalist, Thoreau also appraised the natural world as a surveyor; the purpose of Powell’s river journey was geographic and geologic documentation, yet hardship made it something very different; and if Muir found the imprint of god’s hand across the natural world, he was also an early advocate of biocentric equality. Students will be asked to consider how scientific inquiry and a view to the sublime coincided in the thinking of these writers; and explore those ways in which their divergent perspectives are the groundwork for American understanding—and misunderstanding—of our relations with the natural world.
Corequisite: Students are required to be in attendance at all Literature evenings and Poetry at Bennington events in the second half of the term (most Wednesday evenings at 7:00pm).
This class focuses on using simple mechanical devices (dc motors, solenoids, or vibration) to elicit sounds from myriad physical materials. We’ll discover the innate characteristics of materials themselves and manipulate forces that activate them, such as gravity, elasticity, tension, and friction. The class will workshop approaches to creating devices through the use of buttons, switches and sensors, as well as with microcontrollers or microcomputers such as Arduinos. Embracing a scrappy DIY ethos, we’ll harvest discarded materials and uncover the acoustic and poetic potential of the humble and overlooked. We will also look at concepts of precariousness and how they inform strategies for sound installations and performances. At the end of the term we will stage a performance and/or installation with our new instruments.
Whether it’s in your community, your state, your country or in the world, understanding the impacts of global warming and how to participate in future policy decisions has become an essential role of the citizen. This Fall 2019’s Public Policy Forum @ CAPA presents an opportunity to learn from policy makers, academics, and leading thinkers and activists on many aspects of the climate crisis from energy and food to water, and soils.
Almost all work in the world is performed in groups and all groups involve some kind of organization. Whether it’s a fast-food restaurant, a band, an activist group, or even a college class, we investigate ideas of organization — often invisible — that we picked up from somewhere: families, teachers, bad bosses, and/or movies just to name a few. This course offers the opportunity to survey recent non-traditional organizational concepts from both the business and non-profit world. Since a genuinely critical examination of organizations cannot occur in the absence of lived experience, we will use the class itself as a laboratory for exploring questions such as what does it mean to work without a boss, what is the role of facilitation and negotiation, and how can we use organizations as a vehicle for individual development. Source material will include Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux, the work of Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey (Immunity to Change, An Everyone Culture) among others.
How do we come to understand what we are doing when attempting to change or interfere with a messy complex social problem? How can we know if the thing we want to do to improve a social problem will work or backfire? There are many lessons from psychiatrists like RD Laing to cultural heroes like Hermès on this topic. Ideas Arrangements Effects will overview several lessons from a variety of schools of practice of solving human centered social problems. The course will help socially engaged artists find where their own thought habits and beliefs can get in the way of their attempts to improve social problems. The class will also offer students a genealogy of the schools of thought that informed the Design Studio for Social Intervention’s take on addressing social problems. As part of the course, students will set a problem they are intending to address and use the class as a design intensive to devise their own social intervention.
DS4SI’s book, Ideas Arrangements Effects would be the primary text, supplemented with readings that were critical in shaping our take on design and social change.
Futures studies—also known as futurology—has been used by businesses and the military as part of a strategic planning toolkit. This framework of speculating about the future in systemic ways has been adopted by many contemporary artist collectives, in order to challenge assumptions of the present about outcomes in the future. These futuristic models are based on constraints—design limitations— that can spark wild imaginaries liberated from business-as- usual predictions. In this 7-week workshop we will create possible future scenarios in the forms of invented artifacts, writing, and framing devices. The features of these futures will draw from Investing in Futures, the artist-created constraint-design card deck (Mattu/Rothberg/Zurkow) which explores topics such as governance, living conditions, food, climate, technology, and range from possible to absurd.
In weeks 1-5, students in group collaborations will design and prototype pieces of specific future scenarios. In weeks 6-7 students will focus on collectively designing a futuristic EPCOT- like exhibit, which will be open to the community.
References and readings about future scenario design thinking, speculative design, and design fiction will also be explored in class. Learning outcomes: Introduction to futurology, speculative design, and systems thinking. Students will participate across media in constraint-based design, writing, and prototyping in a variety of media in rotating groups.
In this 7-week workshop we will uncover aspects of Bennington, perform research, tell stories, and design booklets using the familiar form of the field guide. A field guide is a manual used to identify things (birds, trees, minerals and more) in their natural environment. It follows certain rules, such as an identification system, a grammar, a map, and a how-to use section. All of these structured “conventions” are designed to encourage participation. Because its form is recognizable, one can employ the field guide format to do all kinds of things in the world. For instance, there are field guides to civic participation, stereotypical high school types, and artisanal cheese.
With the Bennington campus and/or the town as our “field,” students will individually identify, design (or create) and produce a printed field guide to a system that is present in this environment. Focuses could include campus waste, town heroes, local ghosts, the library and more. As a group, these guides will form a collection of uniquely expressive, artistic approaches to the idea of “field guide,” while following tight constraints. In addition, students will observe participants using their field guides, and conduct public tours. In order to enlist a public, students must answer a fundamental question about participatory design: “What do you want your field guide to DO?”
Class final: Students will user test their field guides on the campus and in the area. Final printed guides will be submitted to the Crossett library. Learning outcomes: Students will be introduced to systems thinking, constraint-based design, semiotics, and participatory design, and will conduct research, play-testing, zine production, interface and graphic design.
How do you discern if your desired social practice art project is ethically sound as well as aesthetically relevant? This class will survey a series of social practice art projects, from high profile “art world” ones to small community-generated gestures, with the goal of evaluating if the project was properly thought through ethically and aesthetically. The class will also include diverse perspectives from the field of social practice art, social activism and art / literary criticism. The goal is not to supply students with a simple framework as much as it is to surface debates about the ways intended or unintended social practice art could exploit the populations or communities it intends to benefit.
The common startup mythologies tend to promote the glamor of entrepreneurship. You will work hard in a basement or a garage with no money, but the brilliance of your idea will make you into a heroic (wind-swept) figure to whom investors, customers, and clients (and the popular press) will all be irresistibly attracted. These stories don’t map to reality for most.
In contrast, you need to get out of the garage, think more creatively so that you are adequately capitalized and can attract the talent you need for your enterprise development team. Competition and sustainable growth in the 21st century are enormous challenges which require your creativity and passion. They also require innovation, an equitable organizational structure, and a functional understanding of the regulations and law which either empower your enterprise to acquire (a) the capital in amounts and forms you can best utilize, (b) promote equity in compensation and ownership within your organization, and (c) maintain sufficiently control over the goals and direction of your venture.
During this 7-week course, we will quickly review and interrogate all common legal organizational form choices. We will then examine better choices in organizational legal form, their character and details, and learn how to create and utilize them and how they optimize and facilitate your ability to raise capital (which you will likely have to do over and over again). We will examine organizational designs which meet compensation equity and employee ownership goals, build the competitive and re-invention capacities of an enterprise, enable collaborative management and control, and sustainability. You will create your own innovative design and apply it to the preceding set of outcome metrics as part of the course. Further, we will examine pertinent enterprise law and regulation, like Reg. CF (Crowdfunding) and OPO (Online Public Offering) requirements and adapt our choices in organizational design and structure to make those options available.
Screen printing is an extremely versatile means of reproducing a 2-D image onto a variety of objects. Hand-drawn, painted, photographic and digital images can be used singularly and in combination with each other. Preparation and processing is relatively simple and multiples can be produced quickly. In this class, we will print with non-toxic, water based inks.
We will begin by covering the basics: how to stretch a screen, coat it with photo-sensitive emulsion, expose and re-expose a variety of artwork. From there, we will delve into ink modification and color mixing, printing a single color, blending colors in split-fountain printing and clean-up.
After mastering these fundamental methods, students will learn registration techniques for printing multiple colors/layers and best practices for overprinting on paper. Additional areas of exploration may include printing on fabric and the use of repeated patterns, printing on other substrates and monotype printing (producing unique images).
This seven-week course is an opportunity to gain hands-on experience with the entire video and animation equipment inventory. In class we will use a wide variety of cameras, set up audio and lighting equipment, learn about camera stabilization, capture drone footage, and experiment with projectors. Throughout the course students will be asked to give live demonstrations and apply what they have learned to their discipline.
A readings course centered on the Usdan Gallery survey of fictional twentieth-century Czech architect Petra Andrejova-Molnár, created by artist Katarina Burin as a feminist meditation on the absence and erasure of women designers within the modernist canon. Exhibition components such as biographical texts, staged photographs, drawings, furniture, décor, and models provide the setting for texts on themes including gender, authorship, the fictive archive, and the mythos of “the architect.”
This course looks at the Presidential candidates for 2020, their platforms, and how these platforms would impact American society. Additionally, the course will work to examine and conclude what issues are most important to Americans and how Americans view politics and the American Presidency at this time in the country’s history. In addition to required readings and writing assignments, student will be responsible for conducting significant research largely through the interview process.
In this seven-week seminar and studio, students will produce creative, self-directed projects across media (video, sound, sculpture, etc.) that deal with the space between us, or proxemics, the study of personal and interpersonal spatial politics. The seminar will center artists Jeff Kasper and Chloe Bass, in particular Kasper’s wrestling embrace, a customizable workshop co-designed by/with/for queer folks and Bass’ The Book of Everyday Instruction, an eight-chapter investigation into one-on-one social interaction, including a workbook, measuring ribbons, and writing tools for examining how we tell a story based on the proximity of two bodies in space. Students will learn about the work of Lygia Clark, Roni Horn, Franz Erhard Walther, Ana Mendieta, Erwin Wurm, Catalina Ouyang, and will create self-directed projects in critical and imaginative response to the field of proxemics. It is helpful to have taken at least one 2000 level course in sculpture, sound, or video prior to enrolling in this course. The archive for this course is drawn from The Study Center for Group Work: http://studycollaboration.com/practice/field-guide-spatial-intimacy
In this course, college student mentors will work with high school student mentees to develop college aspirations and contribute to mentees’ knowledge about the college application process. Each week college students will travel to Mount Anthony Union High School to meet with their college student mentees for an hour. We will then return to Bennington College campus for the remaining class time during which we will discuss literature about mentoring and college access, as well as the plan for meeting with the high school students next week. Mentors will share their college access stories with their mentees and invite their mentees to discuss their own educational aspirations in shared storytelling sessions. Possible topics we will cover with the high school student mentees include the college application process, including searching for colleges and writing a personal statement, as well as the process of applying for financial aid. In this course, Bennington College students will have the opportunity to put a personal face on the often mystifying college application process and will develop mentoring and leadership skills as they do so.
In this course we will focus on cutting and welding non-ferrous metals. CNC assisted plasma cutting will pair with the more traditional methods of shaping the material The fabrication processes will begin through brazing methods (acetylene and oxygen) for connecting non-similar metals then we will advance to learning the skills involved in using the GTAW welders for non-ferrous welding. This is a project based foundation course on a more advanced level. The student must have practiced and comfortably understand the processes in basic gas and electric welding.
This course is designed to introduce students to the processes involved in casting Iron and Aluminum. Students will work with foundry wax and learn how to produce a sculpted object either by hand or that of some other method covered in class. These additional methods could include machining parts, 3d printing objects or casting from the body. After a form has been produced the student will create molds that will be used for casting in both Iron and Aluminum. The first couple of weeks will be focused on producing molds that will be included in an intercollegiate iron pour in Salem New York. Participating among other Colleges allow for large scale participation experience to the world of artists casting in metal. This first pour at Salem shows rigid scheduling and teaches safety practices that we will then bring back to Bennington to prepare for our own Aluminum pour here at the College.
Processes used include but not limited to: Developing sand part molds with Silbond, casting wax with alginate and plaster , lost wax methods, and proper safety measures are taught through out each step.
In this course, we will examine the rise of market-based approaches to K-12 education reform in America. What are the theoretical arguments for implementing free market reforms in public schooling? What are examples of school choice policies and what are the consequences of these for students and families? How has the increased privatization and marketing of schools influenced the larger educational landscape? To what extent do free-market reforms contribute to racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic segregation in schools? We will examine current research addressing all of these questions, including the role that politics plays in producing school choice scholarship. Students will learn to apply a variety of theoretical frameworks used to examine school choice policies, including Milton Friedman’s free-market capitalism, Albert O. Hirschman’s concepts of exit, voice, and loyalty, and organizational ecology.
Lighting design has the powerful ability to shape the experience of an audience. Its practice incorporates elements of artistry and craft, and should interest those working in all aspects of visual and performing arts. In addition to hands-on work with theatrical lighting equipment in and outside of class, awareness of light, play analysis and conceptualization, color, angle, composition and focus are explored in class demonstrations and in a series of individual and group projects. Some reading (including two plays) and short writing assignments are also included, as is an introduction to lighting design documentation.
This course will be offered the first seven weeks of the semester.
The physics of light and color initially appears simple: light is a wave and the wavelength of light determines color. While this basic physical description of light is easy to state, going deeper quickly opens up large range of questions. How do different wavelengths of light combine to make colors? How does light from different sources interfere? How does light change path when it travels through different materials? How do humans sense light both in and outside of the visible spectrum? How does our perception of color affect how we interpret our world? Each question reveals a deeper level of detail and more complexity. While the fundamentals of this course will address the underlying physics of light and color, student interest will drive experimental projects in a variety of areas that extend the ideas of the course.
Students with an artistic interest in light and/or color who are interested in developing a deeper understanding of the physics that underlies our visual perception should find this class particularly interesting.
Physically, sound is simply the compression of air around us. However, this relatively simply description obscures a much richer understanding of sound. From how different sounds are generated and perceived to how different sounds can combine to make something new to how to design acoustically pleasant spaces, the physics of sound plays a key role. This course is about the fundamentals that underlie sound and is designed to serve as an introduction to those who are interested in going further. We will discuss wave theory, sound propagation, constructive and destructive interference, beats, and resonance, among other ideas. This course will be mixed between a lecture/discussion and a hands-on lab and students will be expected to design their own final project extending the ideas of the course.
A brief history of animated images from the 1500s to the present day. The class will be split into watching documentaries and animations along with discussions. A quiz and short responses will be required.
This course introduces artists to Adobe Creative Suite via Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. Together we will explore the individual capabilities of each program and how to bridge between them. We will also learn best practices in creating and managing digital files.
Students will apply skills learned to their own creative projects and ideas. They will also have the opportunity to work with the laser cutter and large format printers, translating their digital ideas into physical objects.
This course, while rooted in Literature, is part of the Lexicons of Migration cluster. Taking as a point of departure Isabelle de Courtivron’s touchstone Bilingual Lives: Writers and Identity, students will update, complicate, and enrich the binary orientation of this collection, originally published in 2003. We will delve into the personal, familial, communal, and political dynamics of living diasporic, multi-lingual and multi-cultural lives. Our readings will include Madhu Kaza’s Kitchen Table Translation, Mireille Gansel’s Translation as Transhumance, and ark Polizzotti’s Sympathy for the Traitor: A Translation Manifesto; and a wide array of poems, stories, and hybrid texts from around the world.
Students will conceive, commission, edit, and design this online publication, which may culminate in a one-off print volume. There is the potential for editorial cooperation with students from Bard, Sarah Lawrence and Vassar; editorial calls for student submissions may be national and international.
We will host distinguished guest writer-translators; attendance at these events is mandatory.
What does it mean to be “rooted,” “uprooted,” “living in translation”? Can a language, literary tradition, or far-flung literary republic be one’s homeland? Does “cultural authority” derive from being considered “native”? How is it that immigrant literary translators have been met with apprehension on the part of publishers? Might this stem from definitions of “fluency” and “expertise” that are themselves full of anxiety, confusion, political vexation, and even bias? What about the age-old debate between “domesticating” texts from elsewhere and making the reader aware of the palpable signs of “foreign-ness” in the original? Should a language have a legitimized “standard” usage? These, and other questions, will fuel our discussions.
Course-Connected Visiting Translator Series: “Immigration and Diaspora” Attendance at Guest Readings is mandatory.
This class is part of the Lexicons of Migration Consortium with Bard, Sarah Lawrence and Vassar. There will be opportunities for exchange with the students and faculty from these partner institutions
This is a seminar, screening and production half-semester course, based on themes within Science Fiction and Speculative Fiction as means to imagine a different future. In the first half we will be viewing films, from big budget to experimental and performance-based video art, while also listening to music, audio plays, and reading experimental and theoretical texts to support weekly thematic discussions. We will contrast Hollywood narratives against historical films like Born in Flames, Space is the Place, Fresh Kill, and Flaming Creatures, alongside the work of many contemporary artists. Further, we will be reading texts by Gayatri Spivak, José Esteban Muñoz, Laboria Cuboniks, and Fred Moten, among others – texts conceptualizing the urgency in reimagining the future to make room for identities in alterity in the present. In the second half of the course students will work towards a short self-formed project in either film/video, script, or critical/experimental text. Entry into the class is predicated on the professor’s permission, and those interested must submit a sample of recent work in either moving image or text.
If group work is both the most necessary and the most difficult endeavor of our time, what methods are necessary for collaboration in the visual arts? In this seminar and studio, students will focus on a method for group work that was developed by the video-artist (not politician) Paul Ryan between 1971 and the end of his life, in 2013. Threeing is “a voluntary practice in which three people take turns playing three different roles: initiator, respondent, and mediator.” Working in groups of three, students will use Threeing to create ephemeral installations, drawings, texts, and conversations while rotating between these three roles: initiator, respondent and mediator. This course takes as its archive The Study Center for Group Work, a library of collaborative methods that have been developed by artists: http://studycollaboration.com
Political corruption is broadly understood to involve the exploitation of public office for private gain. It is a longstanding problem, and it persists more or less in every society, including old democracies and developing countries. This course explores the definitions, drivers, patterns, effects and control of political corruption from a global perspective. Key topics include: a survey of major social science and public policy debates on the meanings, indicators, and causes of corruption; corruption in historical perspective across different political cultures and systems; contemporary political scandals and their ramifications for human rights, democracy, development, conflict, and international security; and national and international strategies to counteract or prevent the corrupt practices of public officials.