About This Class

The goal of this course is to use media practice as a way to critically and self-reflexively examine the physical and social construction of the local spaces we inhabit. We will consider the ways that our physical surroundings act as a form of media that can influence and respond to users and contain coded messages, problematizing the notion of space as a blank canvas onto which human actions are simply projected. At the same time, we will contemplate the ways that the presence of media technologies in our local environment can augment or shift our experience of place.

Our guiding questions for the course will be: What kinds of agency do spaces have? What sorts of identity, community formation and interaction do our everyday spaces encourage? Who has power within these spaces? How do various media function within physical space? How might we become critical spatial participants and media practitioners in the environments in which we dwell?

Media practice, in the form of self-reflexive ethnography, will function in this course as a way for students to defamiliarize themselves with their everyday surroundings, allowing them to gain new insights into their environments. Students will choose a familiar, local space as the target of a continuing weekly site study, which will consist of both written and visual or audio observations and critical reflections, presented online in blog format. Linked with our class readings, this process is meant to help students explore how the transformative and persuasive capacities of media might provide us with an analog to the built environment that can deepen our understanding of the potential for our everyday spaces to affect human interaction.

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