Thursday, May 8, 2008

Using New Media in a philosophy of art seminar

Here is one way of using New Media in a philosophy of art seminar focusing on the notions of pictorial representation and the ontology of music. (I'm actually going to be teaching such a seminar this fall.)

(a) The students should spend some time exploring the resources of a music visualization software (see

(b) After familiarizing themselves with the software, the students should identify the assumptions about picturial representation that were implicitly made in the software, and provide a critique of these assumptions.

(c) The students would then write a blog answering questions such as:

(i) Does it make sense to try to visualize music? Is music the sort of thing that can be visualized at all?

(ii) What are the benefits of music visualization? Does it help us understand and appreciate a particular musical work better? Give examples.

(iii) In which ways could the music visualization software be improved? For example, which differences could emerge if we changed the assumptions about pictorial representation that were built into the software?

Note: When I first created the course, I didn't provide connections between the two topics of the seminar (pictorial representation and the ontology of music). The assignment above offers an intriguing opportunity to explore one important connection between them -- using New Media as the missing link!


Gina said...

Wow. Great assignment. I'm sure the music visualization will come out bruised and battered--it's really not very good on the whole, aesthetically or otherwise. But contemplating the questions you raise will surely lead students to think about the nature of sensory data and our responses to them in interesting ways.

Otavio Bueno said...

Many thanks, Gina!