Art and Technology

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSCC2VA1024

Semester and Year Offered: Monsoon, 2018

Course Coordinator and Team: Santhosh S.

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: Basic understanding regarding contemporary visual art practices

Course Objectives/Description:

The course is imagined and designed as a fundamental ground course which introduces to the students the nuances of digital technology. It seeks to transform the students into critical consumers of digital technology through a course of study which charts a history of 'new' media. Students will be made aware of the historical lineages of digital culture. References from the emerging field of 'software studies' will be highlighted so that students develop a deep consciousness of the software tools they use. This aspect is especially important in the context of ‘new’ media practices in India by the reason that most practitioners are unaware of the linguistic and semiotic dimensions of digital technology. This course attempts to initiate a debate around this crucial aspect in order to reclaim the ‘agency’ of the technology that one is ‘using’. It tries to promote more interactive and experimental art practices, moving away from that which is ‘familiar,’ ‘commonsensical,’ and ‘normal.’

One of the basic objectives of this course is to introduce students to the history of ‘new’ media, which will enable them to engage with the contemporary practices in the field more critically and creatively. Further, it introduces to students the ways in which ‘digital culture’ has altered the notions of the real and reality in order to generate a critical consciousness regarding the tools they use. Basics of interface design and computer graphics will be studied from a semiotic point of view. The history of 'new media' art will be studied with a focus on its germination in the early 20th century. The roots of 'digital art' will be glanced at through some select early art exhibitions. The nature of digital devices will be explored through trivial examples of algorithm design and basics of computer programming.

Course Outcomes:

Upon the successful completion of the course the students will be able to:

  • acquire perspectives on the critical and creative role of technology in artistic production.
  • critically engage with various philosophical currents regarding the interface between art and technology, both critically and creatively.
  • distinguish between instrumental use of technology and the creative adaptation.
  • initiate an informed discussion about the multiple critiques of the technological apparatuses.
  • distinguish as well as creatively integrate the genealogy of technological thinking and its relationship with poetic thinking (poeisis).
  • demonstrate the relevance of engaging with technology through a creative pursuit.
  • illustrate how various philosophical schools and creative practitioners engage with the questions of technology.
  • demonstrate( in verbal, written or visual forms) the heterogeneous character of the interaction between art, technology, and aesthetics and the socio-political implications of this interaction.


Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Technology Revisited: This introductory module exposes the students to various philosophical positions vis-à-vis technology and creative dimensions of practices. How modernity and its apparatuses of enframing has divorced technology from its creative-becoming by reducing the question into the domain of instrumental rationality is one of the areas that this module elaborately engages with

Technical Mentality and the Question of Craft: This module provides a broad outline of the debates around the interrelations and differences between art and craft through a conceptual, historical and pedagogic perspectives. It explores various critiques on the this modernist epistemic division through the works of Walter Benjamin, Martin Heidegger and Gilbert Simondon,

Technological Apparatuses and the ‘New Media’: This module provides a brief historical survey of the emergence of new media and the conceptual art practices and the way they have interrupted the medium specificity of art practices. It also attempts of broaden the perspectives regarding creative practices and critical art history through an in-depth study on the apparatus theory.

Workshop on Kinetic Art and Algorithm-based Art: This month long module attempts to bring together questions around technology, craft, art, and apparatuses through practice-driven workshops, where students will be able to experiment with some of these core concepts through practical experimentation. This workshop is conducted by a practitioner of art who has a long-standing engagement with technologically mediated art.

Assessment Details with weights:

  • Mid-Term Assignment (questions or provocations are based on classroom lectures and the key texts around art and technology): 20% (Month 1 and 2)
  • Class Presentation (based on one of the critical texts): 15% (End of Month 2)
  • Artistic Explorations/research of any of the core concepts: 25% (Month 3)
  • Class Participation: 10% (Semester long)
  • Workshop Participation and Creative Display: 30% (Month 3 and 4)


Reading List:

  • Agamben, Giorgio. "What Is an Apparatus? and Other Essays, trans. David Kishik and Stefan Pedatella." Stanford: Stanford University Press 42 (2009).
  • Althusser, Louis. "Ideology and ideological state apparatuses (notes towards an investigation)." The anthropology of the state: A reader 9 (2006): 86.
  • Benjamin, Walter. “Work of Art in the Age of mechanical Reproduction.” In Hannah Arendt ed. Illuminations: Essays and Reflections. New York: Schocken, 1968.
  • Heidegger, Martin. "The question concerning technology." Technology and values: Essential readings (1954): 99-113.
  • Mitchell, W.J.T. Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999
  • Simondon. Gilbert, Being and Technology, Edinburgh University Press, (2012): 1-15
  • Stiegler, Bernard. Technics and Time, 1,2 &3. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998.