CS 48N - The Science of Art
Winter Quarter, 2011
Gates Computer Science Building, Room 366
Office hours: Tue/Thu, 4:15 - 5:30 and by appointment
Course web page: http://graphics.stanford.edu/courses/cs48n-11
In this seminar, we will study the development of Western illusionistic art from the Renaissance through the end of the nineteenth century. There are four main topics, as shown below, and we will consider each from the standpoint of science and of art. To enrich our coverage of this material, we will also study several secondary topics, as shown. The positioning of these, usually in the class after each paper is assigned, gives you time to write your papers before we move on to the next topic. This schedule is also available on the course web page, where the topic names will become links to the slides soon after each class is finished. (The slides are available to Stanford students only.)
January 4 Introduction Topic 1: Perspective January 6 Perspective through the Renaissance January 11 The geometry of perspective January 13 Perspective after the Renaissance paper #1 assigned January 18 The structure of intellectual revolutions Topic 2: Illustration January 20 of anatomy and landscape paper #1 due January 25 of theories and data paper #2 assigned February 27 Tour of computer graphics laboratory February 1 The design of data visualizations February 3 Student Day paper #2 due Topic 3: Light and Shadow February 8 Light sources and illumination of surfaces February 10 Reflections, shadows, and visual perception paper #3 assigned February 15 Light and shadow in art February 17 Student Day paper #3 due Topic 4: Color February 22 Color theories through 1800 February 24 Modern color theory March 1 Color in art paper #4 assigned March 3 Wrapup March 8 Student Day paper #4 due March 10 Field trip to Legion of Honor
Reading is an integral part of any humanities course. In this seminar, we will read some primary works - by famous artists and scientists, and some secondary works - by critics and historians. These readings, mostly book chapters and a few books, are available in the bookstore or will be xeroxed and handed out in class. You are expected to complete the readings on time and be prepared to discuss them in class. These readings also constitute the primary source material for the papers you will write.
Here is a list of those required readings that are available in the bookstore:
Although we'll read all of Kuhn, we'll only read excerpts from Kemp, Da Vinci, and Minneart. Gardner's book is a standard textbook on art history. Many of the examples I will show in class come from this book. In past years, students found it useful to buy it. It will also bring lasting enjoyment. However, it is expensive, so I do not require it. Also, if you already own another standard art history textbook (some Stanford courses require Honour and Fleming's The Visual Arts: A History), then you can use it in place of Gardner.
In addition to these required readings, I have compiled a bibliography (handout #2) of materials relevant to each topic in the course. These materials, typically book chapters or research papers, either cover the current topic in greater depth than we have time for in class, or they focus on a single artist or work. I obviously don't expect you to read all of this material, but you're encouraged to draw on it when writing your papers.
Writing is also an important part of any humanities course. In this seminar, you will write four short papers (5 double-spaced pages each). (Before you panic about this requirement, look at the section below on "Non-writing projects".) The topics for these papers will be the four major topics in the seminar: Perspective, Illustration, Light and Shadow, and Color. On the dates indicated in the course outline, I will hand out a list of specific questions related to the current topic. Most of these questions will draw from the readings we have discussed in class, but some of them will refer to items in the course bibliography. You may choose any of these questions to write about, or you may choose another subject if you clear it with me in advance. Papers must be typed or computer-printed, not handwritten, and they must be turned in on the date indicated. As you can see from the outline, you have about one week to write each paper.
Once during the quarter, each of you will present the key ideas of one of your papers orally in class during Student Day. Given the limited class time available for these presentations, they will necessarily be short - 10-15 minutes each. Decisions regarding who presents on which day will be made informally in class. Your presentation is not intended to be a reading of your paper, but a proper talk. In other words, it should be lively and should engage the class in discussion. In the past some students have used Powerpoint slides as a visual aid during their talks, but this is up to you. If two or more of you choose the same question for your papers, you should meet and coordinate your talks so as to minimize repetition.
As an alternative to writing papers, you may replace up to two of your four papers with projects of your own choosing. These can be programming projects, experimental demonstrations, works of art related to the class topics, etc. Lists of suggested topics and readings will be provided, but I encourage you to be creative; just check with me before going too far out on a limb. Projects can be presented orally in class just like papers, and they should be submitted, in whatever written or tangible form is appropriate for the project, on the due date for that paper. If you have built something, I ask that you submit a brief summary of what you built (1 page is enough), describing the problem you solved, how you went about it, what went wrong (or right), and what you would do differently the next time. If you have any questions about this requirement, ask me.
Evaluation criteria: The four papers will each count as 20% of your grade, the oral presentation as 10%, and class participation as 10%. If you choose to do a project in place of a paper, I am prepared to weight it more heavily relative to your written papers, depending on how much effort you expend on it. There will be no exams.
Attendance: Since this is a small-group seminar, I expect everybody to attend every class. One unexcused absence will be allowed. Beyond this, each unexecused absence will subtract 5% from your grade for the course. Besides, it would give me great pleasure to see your alert, smiling faces in the classroom. After all, that's why I teach!
Late assignments: Since the readings and assignments come in rapid succession, it is important that each be completed on time. To allow for unforeseeable circumstances, you will be allowed one weekday of grace on one of your papers. Beyond this, late papers will be penalized by 10% per weekday that they are late. Obviously, your oral presentation cannot be late.
You are welcome to discuss any aspect of the course, including the paper questions and your oral presentation, with anyone you like. However, your writing should be your own. You are also permitted to quote, paraphrase, or borrow ideas from others, but you should always cite your sources, including the Internet. Use standard bibliographic form. Substantive discussions with classmates about paper questions should be cited with a numbered reference in the text (1) and an entry in the list of references, like this:
1. Pat Hanrahan, personal communication.
On projects, you are permitted to form teams of two or three people and to partition the work amongst you.
A hierarchy of web pages has been created for this course. Its home page is:
http://graphics.stanford.edu/courses/cs48n-11/Links from this page point to all handouts, schedules, and so on. We will also link into this hierarchy any student-produced images, demo programs, Powerpoint presentations, etc. that seem appropriate.