As water—through floods and droughts alike—continues to reshape the geography of the world around us, this course will look at waterscapes as written by women: Rachel Carson’s The Edge of the Sea, Annie Dillard’s A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and Terry Tempest Williams’s Refuge. Science, poetry, and ideas of conservation converge here. As a marine biologist, Carson wrote with exactitude and lyricism of the liminal environment, while Dillard’s evocative personal essays offer a glimpse into how the natural world can inform the human spirit. Williams offers a more elegiac account of landscape and family. The sensibilities and convictions of these women offer views to environmental literature that bring a different dimension to a genre of expression often associated with male adventure and audacity.
A large part of modern mathematics has to do with how we conceptualize and manage the idea of infinity. This occurs in different places: the infinity of the horizon line that appeared with the development of perspective drawing, the infinitely small and infinitely many quantities of calculus, the infinite depth of fractals. This class will survey some of these concepts and briefly talk about how they are formalized in mathematics. There will be a particular emphasis on Cantor’s set theory, which was developed in the late nineteenth century, and which provided new logical tools and a new language to talk about infinite quantities. No mathematical background or knowledge will be assumed.
(April 10, 14, 17, 21, 24, 28)
Much of higher mathematics has more in common with solving puzzles than it does with performing algebra drills. In this class, I will be proposing puzzles, and providing coaching and strategies for getting better at doing puzzles. Many of the reasoning skills will be valuable broadly in life, not only in mathematics. No special math knowledge will be needed.
Advanced mathematics is largely about logical argument, as much as it is computation or calculation. Over time, as each generation extended their ideas into new realms, they looked at the logical arguments of their predecessors and found that there were gaps, elisions, things that were not fully understood. One could imagine that this process might continue forever, but it does not: in the early twentieth century, a number of mathematicians (most notably Hilbert) completed the project of “hitting bedrock”, finding a clear demarcation line between certainty and uncertainty. This required a clarification about what mathematics and reasoning are about (“formalism”). These profound ideas deserve to be better known outside of professional mathematics. (Later, some mathematicians (notably Gödel) used this framework to show the limitations of the framework, in a different and more precise sense than before.) In this class we will go through the development of these ideas. No mathematical knowledge will be assumed.
(May 8, 12, 15, 19, 22, 26)
This course introduces students to the basic language of 3D animation and modeling. Students will be expected to become familiar with the basic principles of the MAYA program. A series of modeled objects placed in locations will be created. The emphasis will be on becoming proficient with modeling forms, texturing using Arnold Renderer, adding lights and cameras.
This scriptorium, a “place for writing,” functions as a class for writers interested in improving their academic essay-writing skills. We will read to write and write to read. Much of our time will be occupied with writing and revising—essai means “trial” or “attempt”—as we work to create new habits and strategies for our analytical writing. As we practice various essay structures with the aim of developing a persuasive, well-supported thesis, we will also revise collaboratively, improve our research skills, and study grammar and style. Our aim is to learn to write with complexity, imagination, and clarity, as we explore the genre of Ekphrasis, which can be simply defined an artistic description of a work of art, a rhetorical device in which one medium of art responds to another. We will study classical and modern examples of ekphrasis and read critical theory about representation, influence, copies, modernity, verisimilitude, beauty, and truth. We will ask ourselves these pressing questions: how can we accurately and imaginatively describe a work of art? How can we capture a work’s meaning, form, and effect on the audience? What are the tensions and possibilities between literature and the visual arts? Readings may include texts by Plato, Berger, Wilde, Homer, Scarry, Benjamin, Ovid, Keats, Browning, Young, Loy, Auden, Coste Lewis, hooks, Dijkstra, Hall, Sontag, Mitchell.
Logarithms are one of the parts of mathematics that often remain a bit mysterious to people, even if they had no difficulty solving problems with them in school. In fact, logarithms are of far broader importance and interest than the narrow applications one usually sees; and seeing this broader picture helps in dispelling some of the mystery and in understanding what they are. In this class we will see new ways of counting, new ways of understanding number and estimating mentally, and new ways of comprehending data, all based in logarithms. I will not be assuming that you know or remember anything about logarithms; part of the point will be to explain them, from the beginning, in a variety of ways.
(March 17, 20, 24, 27, 31, April 3)
The class will be concerned with investigating the interaction of projected imagery with an actor/performer/viewer.
Investigation will center on how projections can be integrated into, and bring further information to a location, a set and or a text. Various examples will be looked at and researched.
Two plays or texts will be used as a basis for two projects and for each, projections will be designed, and tested including different locations and on different surfaces.
The images can be created in a number of programs, with the content and how this works with the locations will be the main focus. Instruction on Qab and Madmapper will be included and used for the tests along with other software.
Vandercook Proofing Presses were once a vital aspect of the printing industry and have been adopted widely by artists for letterpress printing and book arts. Bennington College is fortunate to possess three Vandercooks, housed in the Word and Image Lab.
Using type-high plywood blocks, oil-based and non-toxic, water-soluble inks, we will examine different approaches to mark-making: from graphic and angular to painterly and gestural. We will cover color mixing, printing in multiple-colors and producing multiples/editions.
Students will learn image preparation and transfer methods, sharpening and care of tools, wood carving methods, ink and paper preparation, hand-inking and rolling techniques, printing on the Vandercook proofing press and by hand. Additional areas of experimentation may include using stencils, layering color and a variety of monotype techniques and embossment.
Experienced and beginning woodcutters/relief printmakers are welcome to join us.
This course will explore how different social movements have incorporated principles of ecological sustainability and social justice into their activism. We will examine how environmentalists (mainstream and radical), indigenous rights activists, feminists, immigrants’ rights activists, anti-immigrant groups, religious organizations, conservatives and labor unions
have conceptualized and fought for sustainability. We will then critically reflect on the similarities and differences between these various attempts to articulate connections between the ecological and the social. By the end of the course, you will have a strong understanding of the opportunities and barriers that exist in efforts to build the alliances necessary for the
(re)construction of societies that are both ecologically sustainable and socially just.
What is a more valuable piece of matter? Could it be something that will degrade in this art world and be okay? String, cotton-balls and rubber bands may be what should be affixed to your unique prosthetic to complete a task given.
This course will cover information and techniques related to body casting, wire rope rigging, fabricating, building processes and encourage personal material resourcing. This is a project based performance course in which you will have problems set to define and complete. Your found solution will be evaluated on how thoroughly you analyzed the task, by way of experimentation of intent represented in prototyping and drawings, as well as showing a final function.
This course is directed at the student who is interested in furthering a visual vocabulary and conceptual enhancement through material introductions and demonstrations. The class will be based primarily on mastering methods of working with both thermo forming and thermo setting plastics. Often I have students come to me and ask how they can find some solution to the way a project may be leading them…the answer is never simple, on the contrary, this class will introduce you to learning around a problem. Observing close to what you were looking for however understanding that these decisions on material selection and their safe manipulation will create and develop new rich conceptual directions. Questions about questions like: Is this the most interesting solution? What is interesting? The foundation of this course is designed around the encouragement to experiment fearlessly towards finding a richer material language.
To most of you, the 1960’s might seem like ancient history. There wasn’t even social media! You might be surprised to find out that many of the problems confronted by the student movement during that time are the same as problems we see today. Although the student uprisings seemed focused on the Vietnam War, many other issues were part of the struggle: workers strikes, antiracist actions, the changing role of women in society, the question of violence/pacifism, and the ecological crisis. This seven-week class will use readings, discussions, guest speakers, and individual projects to examine the role of SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) in mobilizing a national movement based on grassroots organizing, its part in generating antiwar sentiment, and its location within the broader terrain of ’60s struggles.
This class will introduce Isadora, a software designed for artists, designers and performers to add interactive media and video to their projects. Through a drag and drop node based interface you can control your media in real time, editing your video and audio on the fly or incorporating live video and audio feeds. Together we will learn the logic of the software and best practices for media management and equipment set up in pursuit of our creative ideas.
In this advanced course, we will examine French culture’s engagement with questions of sexuality and gender, with a focus on authors, artists, theorists, and others who have questioned ideas of normative sexuality from the Middle Ages through the 21st century. Authors and texts to be studied will include Marguerite de Navarre, l’Abbé de Choisy, Diderot, Monique Wittig, Virginie Despentes, Guillaume Dustan, Abdellah Taïa, Edouard Louis, Bambi (Sebastian Lifshitz), and Parole de King (Chriss Lag). Advanced level. Conducted in English.
Auditions are an opportunity to develop your artistic voice and your confidence in that voice through self-critique. In this class we will work to demystify the process of auditioning and understand how to prepare and present work under challenging circumstances. We will cover cold readings, monologue and prepared scenes, with an in depth look at each step of the process, from the artist’s point of view. We will address physical movement, text analysis, making choices, taking direction, interviewing, prep and post audition activity in order to experience the entire audition as a work of artistic expression. We will work towards developing a sense of self-evaluation that allows us to be independent of the need for feedback as well as the skills to participate in constructive feedback sessions. Students present work weekly.
In this course, based on the book Speaking of Earth, edited by Alon Tal, we will read twenty inspiring speeches by leading environmentalists around the world that examine a broad range of environmental issues. Included in the course is Rachel Carson’s defense of her ground breaking book Silent Spring, Prince Charles’s passionate call for sustainable agriculture, and the Dalai Lama’s explanation of a path to ecological harmony. The module will include participants in the class writing their own speech.
This course is designed for students of all disciplines who are interested in connecting their discrete creations (a poem, a drawing, an artwork, a product, an event) to larger systems, organizations, and possible art worlds. In this course, we will examine the ways in which every aspect of your production and distribution process — from sourcing materials to organizing your studio to licensing and acquisition — can deepen your work and remind people of your intentions as an artist. Through in-person meetings, guest presentations, group activities, and readings, you will be introduced to contemporary artists and designers who consider the entire life of their projects, and who develop ways for their projects to circulate in multiple art and design worlds. You will be exposed to a range of creations and systems, from networks of conceptual artists to solidarity co-ops, from alternative currency groups to online start-ups. Throughout the course, you will be challenged to identify art worlds that are appropriate to your work and to your concerns, drawing connections to a series of organizations, collectives and interconnected art and design worlds.
Marx’s ideas remain an important source of political and social science thought. This class requires students to engage in a close and critical reading of a number of Marx’s essays and to assess his work in the light of critical philosophical responses.
Privacy has long been regarded as important and yet claims to privacy have been frequently challenged and often overridden by political, economic, and technological considerations. Do we have a right to privacy? If so, what is its philosophical justification and what essential human goods and capacities does it protect? In what circumstances and for what reasons can we be asked to forfeit our privacy? This course examines these questions via a close reading of the philosophical literature.
The role of drawing has changed over the history of art, from primitive recording to preliminary sketch, from documentation to works that function independently. How can we expand these notions to include the remnants of the making process. Can the research done before a project, the many mistakes made in process, or the discards left after completion of an artwork be considered acts of drawing? What happens in the moments when we think we aren’t working? Can we analyze our interactions with the world that lead to a certain way of making things? What is the necessity or value of ruins?
In this course students collect, analyze, and employ the physical and conceptual detritus surrounding their making process. Topics include: idea generation and development, the use of memory, teaching and learning, and drawing as a way of thinking. In-class activities and discussions are complemented by readings, writings, and the production of an individual body of work, including an elaborate commonplace book. Students are expected to be engaged in a concurrent 4000 level studio/making course.
This introductory seminar will consider and juxtapose the 19th century British Romantic poet John Keats and the 20th century American modernist poet Wallace Stevens, both of whom were rigorous craftsmen, provocative thinkers, and aesthetic theorists who argued fervently for the supremacy of the imagination, the interconnectedness of truth and beauty, and the importance of mystery and uncertainty in poetry. Alternating between Keats and Stevens, we will consider the poetry and critical prose of both writers and look for common threads, both in their writing and artistic sensibility. We will write two short critical essays and together engage in intensive close readings of each poet’s work.