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We have a course called "Electronics in the Visual Arts" which sounds like
something similar to your situation. I have taught the class several years
and it is probably one of the brightest spots in my day. Students seem to
love it and this creates the same problem which you face with too few
computers and too many kids. Last semester I had 26 kids sign up for the
class and we had only six computers provided by the school. I ended up
bringing one of my own" home made" platforms in to bring the total to seven.
I also provided one additional color flatbed scanner, a camcorder, and some
specialized software since the school simply did not have the budget to
support all that we needed. dI also provided a modem, ISP account and the
teacher next to me had a phone line so I strung an extension over to my
class and we shared the line using an AB switch in here office. This gave
us access to the Internet and all of its resources. We had students using
the stations in class every third day. Some of them came before school, at
lunch if I did not have duty, during their other classes if they had their
work finished and could get a pass from the other teacher, and after school.
Needless to say, it was a popular course.
You will need to try to find out what kind of equipment they have for the
class. If you have a scanner, quickcam or camcorder with at least one av
machine. The kids can construct ink drawings, collages, claymation,
paintings and other traditional media when they are not on the platforms and
then they can digitize the work and use it the computer image processing
environment when it is their turn to use the equipment.
Much of your success will be determined by the quality of the hardware and
the software that you will have. Images take up huge amounts of space.
Most of the class projects are larger then a 1.44 meg disk and we must
compress it or use zip drives to hold the works in progress.
Memory is also a problem. We have only 16 megs on most of the machines and
FD Painter 4. 0 is such a memory hog that it often locks up the machine or
simply will not load after the install. Virtual memory slows down all of the
processes and should be avoided if possible. Other programs such as Video
Fusion, Avid VideoShop and Premier will require huge amounts of hard disk
space and memory. Most professional image processors have hundreds of megs
of memory in order to deal with images in high resolution.
Mac Software provided by the school for us included Ofoto, Photoshop 3.0,
ClarisWorks, FD Painter, Avid VideoShop, Premier Claris HomePage. I also
provided Windows 95 software to be used on my "home made" machine. This
software included Power Goo, Photoshop, Illustrator, Scantool, Hotdog Pro,
Eudora, Netscape, and other web animation tools.
2. creating and then scanning a collage and manipulating the image in photoshop
3. creating and then scanning an ink drawing and adding color and lighting
effects in photoshop and painter
4. Capturing three images of themselves with the camcorder on the av
machines and then combining and flipping the images to create a self
portrait which included five views of themselves in the same form.
5. creating a name design using specific photoshop tools such as the type
tool, render clouds and lighting, and Filters such as distort-spherize,
still, wave, etc.
6. manipulating images of themselves in Power Goo, loading them in photoshop
and then creating a totem pole of their own distorted face. Then they were
to scan and environment and place their totem pole in that environment.
7. They were also give the freedom to create their own unique works without
my suggested processes. The early days of the course will work best if they
are placed in a situation where they must use as many of the tools as
possible. This pays off later when they get the freedom to create their own
8. They were to make an eight cel animation and load it into one of the
video manipulation environments or to create an animated gif for the web.
9. They were asked to get involved in assorted other learning experiences
involving specific tools and image processing methods. I encouraged all of
them to have a little time using both the Power PCs in the class and my
"cobbled together" Windows 95 pentium. The world outside the classroom will
involve both kinds of equipment.
10. Students were also given the option to learn a bit about html and they
were encouraged to develop pages where they could show their own work.
As far as teaching methods, I had a low heat overhead projector and an lcd
panel so I could demo the software directly on a machine and the whole class
could watch me work and see the tools in action. They were also able to
surf the web and see what other college students, professionals and high
school kids were doing. I also purchased some of the Mac Academy videos
about Photoshop 4.0 and I used parts of them to help the kids understand
difficult digital imaging concepts. I give short lectures about the
computer, its history, digital vs analog media, resolution, file formats,
resampling and interpolatioin, the Internet, web and web authoring, and
printing. We do not have a quality printer so I use Kinko's to make
hardcopy of only the best work. I end up footing much of the bill here but
there are times when the kids need to show their work and the traditional
exhibition logic has the work matted and framed in a public place rather
then on the web or in a file.
Keep in mind that no matter how much equipment the school provides for your
class, it will never seem like enough. There is the constant demand for new
or better equipment and software. You will have to set your own policy and
learn to try to avoid using your own personal equipment, but the tendency is
to try to give the kids the best experience possible and often that means
using your own funds to make something neat happen for those who are
motivated to learn about the new technology.
I will continue to develop and experiment with the assignments for this
class. Next year I will try to set up a project where they take a work by a
modern master and create their own version of it using distorted images of
themselves or other willing classmates. I am thinking of Picasso's Guernica
as a start. The kids will have fun using Power Goo and Photoshop to create
the experessions. They will have to overlay multiple views of the face using
layers in photoshop and they will have to learn to scale and control
selections to develop their own version about the horrors of war. This will
give me a chance to confront them with some traditional content and history
and help them to make a link between our tradition and the power of this new
hope this helps.