FA 2000-001 Spring 2014 Computers and the Arts

FA 2000-001 Spring 2014 Computers and the Arts

T,  Th  12:25 PM - 1:45 PM M Lib 1120

Class type: studio

Credit hours: 3.0 unit


Instructor: Martin Novak

email: novakm9@gmail.com or martin.novak@utah.edu

Office: FAMB. 100B (adjacent to the Art and Art History Bld. #36 )

Office hours: Th 2pm - 3 pm or by appointment 

Information about Art and Technology courses


Course description:

The goal of this class is to give students foundation to a broad range of concepts, techniques, and tools used by contemporary digital artists and media creators. This class is the foundation for the Arts Technology courses offered by the College of Fine Arts. In this introductory course, students will gain knowledge about general concepts and skills necessary to use digital media applications, creating wide-ranging content, both for print and screen.

During the course, students learn taught program's user interface, its function, which files and formats to use, create and safe, how to use various software applications and creatively incorporate them into their practice. Through reading and writing assignments students will also explore historical and theoretical foundations in this new and growing field of art.

Completing this course will satisfy the prerequisites for other Fine Arts - Arts Technology courses. This course does not satisfy the FA or IE requirements for graduation. To find courses that fit those requirements, please visit the University of Utah or departmental advisors.

Meanwhile, we hope you will consider the value of this course for the information and skills that it teaches.


No prerequisites are required for this course; however, we strongly encourage enrollment for sophomore and higher students. This course is extremely rigorous in attendance and participation. Historically, students with some college experience are most successful in this course. It is assumed that students attending this class have basic working knowledge of computers; how to turn on/off, navigate through the computer environment, find and open files, save documents and cut and paste. This course is taught in Mac lab using Mac OS X operating system and Apple computers. The applications explored in the class and skills learned can be used on both Mac and Windows OS. 

Teaching Methods:

This is a studio-based course. Most learning will be done in a classroom through tutorials, demonstrations and hands-on projects. From experience, the most effective method to learn computer applications and techniques is by practically solving problems and working on projects. Besides in-class participation, students are required to spend 2 hours of their own time for each class period (about 6 after class hours each week).

The class time is used on demonstrations and lectures. Several class periods, depending on the class progress, are used to work on class projects and to get individual help and advice from the instructor. However, most of the work on the class projects will be done on outside of class. It is absolutely essential that everyone come to each class on time and prepared with questions to problems they may have not been able to solve by them self. Students who fall behind in class should take advantage of the instructors office hours where they can receive more individual and specific help with class material and problems.

Besides studio practices, we will also explore the history and theory behind new media and computer arts. Through readings covering various genres you will gain a broader view of this field and its potentials for your own work. For each reading assignment you will write a 2-page summary and individual response.

Content overview:

This course is divided into four units: image editing, graphic design, video editing and web design. In each unit we will go over the basics of editing application. The content in each unit builds on the previous one. In general we will spend about 8 class periods on each application UI overview and learning basic concepts and techniques true hands on exercises and tutorials. Your understanding and ability to apply practically the concepts covered in each unit, would be put in practice through 4 individual, creative projects. Each unit will be also concluded with short quiz testing your practical knowledge of concepts and the application we just learned.

Course objectives:

By the end of the semester you will understand basic concepts of using computer technology through 5 applications: Photoshop, Illustrator,  Dreamweaver, and PremierPro. You will understand each application's basic function, and be able to apply your knowledge to practical projects. Completing this course you will be also ready to participate in advanced FA courses to build a deeper understanding and advanced computer arts techniques. You will also understand the use of digital technology in arts, its history as well as theory essential to independent research projects if you are taking this course to complete certificate or minor in Arts and Technology.

Class text

Text: Christiane Paul - Digital Art, Second Edition (Themes and Hudson World o Art)

Each unit has web module on Canvas, with learning materials, vocabulary and links to online resources. Use these web resources and review materials for quizzes and projects. Additional materials will be placed on the fine arts server.

Additional reading will be placed on the fs.fa.utah.edu server


Access to Fine Arts Server Fine arts server: 

We will sign up for the server together during our first class meeting.

Fine arts server home page:

The Fine Arts Server is an essential class resource, which will be used on daily basis. You will turn in projects in a class folder on the server so it is imperative you have access.

Connect to the server: afp://fs.fa.utah.edu

Digital storage space: It is essential that you back up all your work on portable flash drive or portable hard drive! You are responsible for saving and storing your work! Digital files may get corrupted or not saving them correctly you can lose your work, this may effect your grade!

The art department is not responsible for your data. Art department provides server space for this course where you can store your work for the length of the semester, but you are responsible for safe handling and backing up your data. Your server space provided by the art department is limited to 4GB of space and all data will be deleted at the end of the semester. It is your responsibility to transfer and backup all your data before they are deleted from the server. If you accede this space you will have to use your own digital storage.

Instructions on how to use the fine arts server:

http://helpdesk.fineart s.utah.edu/index.php/detail/C7/

University Attendance Policy

You may not attend a University course unless you are officially registered and your name appears on the class roll. The University expects regular attendance at all class meetings. You are not automatically dropped from your classes if you do not attend. You must officially drop your classes by the published deadline in the academic calendar to avoid a "W" on your record. You are responsible for satisfying the entire range of academic objectives, requirements and prerequisites as defined by the instructor. If you are absent from class to participate in officially sanctioned University activities (e.g. band, debate, student government, intercollegiate athletics), religious obligations, or with instructor's approval, you will be permitted to make up both assignments and examinations; you will need to provide official letter with reason, time and date of your absence.

Course Attendance Policy:

This is a studio class. Participation in-class activities, lectures and discussions are a critical component to the class content and can be difficult to made up if missed. It is expected that you arrive to each class on time, participating in all class activities, making good use of your time in class, and working until the end of the class period. Attendance is one of the most important aspects of this course. Missing class means you miss lectures, work time and meeting with the instructors and fellow students. As a result, a great deal of work and effort on your part will be required to make up for missed classes, and to keep up with course content. 

Students are responsibility to make up for missed class time and to catch up with lecture. Make up for a missed exam is given only with doctor's note with clear dates you have missed. You are fully responsible for following up on missed work and obtaining missed handouts. 

Grading is weighted by attendance. Above 3 absences = 1 grade reduction on final grade (from A to A-), above 6 absences by 2 grade reduction (from A to B) and so forth. More then 9 unexcused absences will result in course failure (E grade). 
Arriving late to class also slows down the tempo of class. Tardy attendance accrues to equaling absences. 2 tardies = 1 absence. Preventing any of these headaches is easy, simply by attending class. 
Before the end of the semester to clear your absence you have to provide doctor’s note with the dates for which you were absent.

Course Work

Class Exercises 

Exercises are worked on and completed during class, following instructor's example, learning basic tools and techniques for individual applications.  After completing class exercise you will turn your completed work in the class drop box on the finearts server. Exercises are graded on completion. Due date for exercise will be announced in class and will depend on when the class completes the work, which may be different from the due date on the class calendar. 

Homework Assignments

Short assignments will be handed out on day-to-day basis in class. These are usually quick projects such as finishing classroom tutorial when we run out of class time, or tutorials for you to practice skills. These assignments are graded on being turned on time and how well they have been completed. All assignments are due on assigned date before class.  Assignments not turned on time will receive automatically C grade. Late assignments will not be accepted for grade after 1 class periods past the assigned due date. Exceptions will be made only for serious medical or emergency reasons.

Individual Projects

The projects are accumulation of each unit. At the conclusion of each unit, you will create an independent, creative project using your own or approved resources. In the project you will demonstrate understanding of the concepts we have discussed in class and ability to use the application independently and creatively. Each project will have clear description stating project goals and evaluation criteria. Make sure you read the instruction for projects clearly and understand the objectives. If you have query about the projects requirements ask questions. 

Projects turned in after the due date/time will receive automatically C grade. Unless prior arrangements have been made, projects will not be accepted after one week from the due date (2 class periods). Project evaluations are based on meeting the assignment goals, demonstrating your skills, understanding of the technology, creativity and effort. Projects must meet or exceed the minimum evaluation criteria.

Assignments and due dates are subject to change based on course pace. Any changes will be announced in class. If you have missed any classes it is your responsibility to follow with instructor or class mates and for being aware of the project description and due dates.


At the end of each unit, there will be a  short quiz based on lectures and class discussions, reading and tutorials. Quizzes are given in class, at the beginning of the class period. If you come to class late, after the quiz begun or you miss the quiz you will not be able to participate in the quiz and receive 0.  Exceptions will be made only for serious medical or emergency reasons.

Reading and written response

Digital Art by Christine Paul

The Book Digital Art by Christine Paul introduces you to the themes and artist working in the digital media today. Reading assignments from this book will give you overview of the field. Each chapter will be tested on your understanding of the concepts. Write 2 page (500 words) paper answering questions assigned for the readings. Reading assignments will be turned in the online Canvas system as digital files. Readings are graded on how well you use the information from the reading, writing style, and over all completeness. Reading Responses are due on assigned date. After 2 class periods (1 weeks) the reading responses will not be accepted for grade.


Grading Percentages

Projects (50%) 

Quizzes (10%)

Readings (10%) 

Assignments (30%)

Class Participation (10%)

Grade Equivalents



to 96%


< 96%

to 91%


< 91%

to 87%


< 87%

to 83%


< 83%

to 79%


< 79%

to 75%


< 75%

to 71%


< 71%

to 67%


< 67%

to 63%


< 63%

to 59%


< 59%

to 55%


< 55%

to 0%

Final Grade Assessment

Final grade is assesd based on overall class performance. The final letter grade is instructors' evaluation of students' work in the class during the semester and may vary from the calculated percentage grade. 
A = sustained level of superior performance demonstrated in all areas of Course Requirements and Project Assignment Criteria 
B = consistent level of performance that is distinctly above average in a majority of the Course Requirements and Project Assignment Criteria
C = level of performance that is generally average and in which all the Course Requirements and Project Assignment Criteria are achieved 
D = below average performance and achievement of the Course Requirements and Project Assignment Criteria 
E = accomplishment of the Course Requirements and Project Assignment Criteria is not at a level sufficient to receive a passing grade

The University of Utah seeks to provide equal access to its programs, services and activities for people with disabilities. If you will need accommodations in this class, reasonable prior notice needs to be given to the Center for Disability Services, 162 Olpin Union Building, 581-5020 (V/TDD). CDS will work with you and the instructor to make arrangements for accommodations.

Course Summary:

Date Details