Course outline

CS 99D - The Science of Art
Winter Quarter, 1998
Marc Levoy
Handout #1

Click here for a revised class schedule.

Table of contents:



Marc Levoy
Gates Computer Science Building, Room 366
(415) 725-4089
Office hours: Tue/Thu 11:00am - 12:15pm and by appointment

Teaching assistant

Lucas Pereira
Gates Computer Science Building, Room 360
(415) 723-3154
Office hours: Mon/Wed, 11:00am - 12:00pm


Ada Glucksman
Gates Computer Science Building, Room 368
(415) 725-3724

Class schedule

In this seminar, we will study the development of Western illusionistic art from the Renaissance through the end of the nineteenth century. There are 4 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 4 secondary topics, as shown. The positioning of these, after each main topic but before each Student Day, gives you time to write your papers and prepare your oral presentations, as you can see from the rightmost column.

This schedule is out-of-date. Click here for a revised schedule.

January 6 Introduction
Topic 1: Perspective
January 8 Science & art
January 13 Science & art (continued) paper #1 assigned
January 15 The structure of intellectual revolutions
January 20 Student Day paper #1 due
Topic 2: Anatomy and Still Life
January 22 Science & art
January 27 Science & art (continued) paper #2 assigned
January 29 Scientific illustration and visualization
February 10 Student Day paper #2 due
Topic 3: Light and Shadow
February 12 Science & art
February 17 Science & art (continued) paper #3 assigned
February 19 Digital image-making
February 24 Student Day paper #3 due
Topic 4: Color
February 26 Science & art
March 3 Science & art (continued)
March 5 Art in the age of technology
March 10 Wrapup
March 12 Project presentations final projects due
March 16 project writeups due



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, will be xeroxed and handed out in class or made available at the bookstore. If you miss class, you can find these handouts in a cabinet in Gates Hall, wing 3B, copy room (room 377). You are expected to complete the readings on time and be prepared to discuss them in class. These readings also constitute the source material for the three short papers that you will write.

In addition to these required readings, I will provide a bibliography 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 that we have time for in class, or they focus on a single artist or work. You are welcome to draw on this material when writing your papers, and you are especially encouraged to look through it before choosing a final project. A few copies of each item will be made available in a convenient location. We will also try to place them on reserve in one of the campus libraries.

Three short papers

Writing is also an imporant part of any humanities course. In this seminar, you will write three short papers (5 double-spaced pages each). The topics for these papers will be the first three topics in the seminar: Perspective, Anatomy and Still Life, and Light and Shadow. At the end of the second class devoted to each topic, I will hand out a list of questions. Most of these questions will relate to 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 topic if you clear it with me in advance. Papers must be typed or printed, not handwritten, and they must be turned in at the end of the fourth class devoted to each topic, i.e. on Student Day. Thus, you have one week to write each paper.

An oral presentation

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 number of students in the course and the limited class time available for these presentations, they will necessarily be short - about 15 minutes each. Decisions regarding who presents on which day will be made informally, probably in class. Your presentation is not intended to be reading of your paper, but a proper talk. In other words, it should be lively and should engage the class in discussion. If two or more of you choose the same question for your papers, you will be expected to meet before class and coordinate your talks so as to minimize repetition. Note that since Student Day always falls on a Tuesday, you have the weekend to write your paper and prepare your talk.

The final project

In addition to the three short papers, you will also complete a project of your own choosing. This can be a programming project, a longer paper (10-15 double-spaced pages), or something else: an experimental demonstration, a work of art, etc.. Alternatively, you may expand one of your short papers into a long paper, but I will expect a fresh angle and additional research if you choose this option. A list 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 will be presented orally on the last day of class and submitted (in whatever written or tangible form is appropriate for the project) by Monday, March 16.

Grading policy

Evaluation criteria: The three short papers will each count as 15% of your grade, the oral presentation and class participation as 15%, and the final project as 40%. There will be no exams.

Attendance: Since this is a small-group seminar, attendance in class is mandatory. One unexcused absence will be allowed. Beyond this, each unexecused absence will subtract 5% from your grade for the course.

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 short papers. Beyond this, late papers will be penalized by 10% per weekday that they are late. Obviously, your oral presentation cannot be late. On the final project, neither the presentation nor the writeup may be late.

About collaboration

You are welcome to discuss any aspect of the course, including the paper questions, your oral presentation, and your project, 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. 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 the project, you are permitted (and encouraged) to form teams of two or three people and to partition the work amongst you. To insure fairness, I will ask each team member to privately describe the division of labor on the team and how much work was done by each member.
Copyright © 1998 Marc Levoy
Last update: Saturday, 10-Jan-1998 03:27:35 CST