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visualrhetorics

Aime Knight, PhD COM 471 Visual Rhetorics Fall 2013 Class meetings: T 3:30-6:10 Merion 150 Office hours: 12:05-1:35 M, W Merion 112

An important direction for digital media studies is inquiry into the aesthetic as a mode of sensory experience. This course takes a human-centered, design-based approach to examining aesthetic experience in digital environments. Students in the course will wear many hats as they try on various creative roles pertaining to the aesthetic production and consumption of digital media. Throughout the course, students will actively examine theoretical questions in visual culture and digital design while participating in a variety of hands-on activities in the areas of 1) graphic design, 2) data-driven design, 3) visual story design, 4) presentation design, and 5) sound and video design. Course texts
White Space is Not Your Enemy: A Beginners Guide to Communicating Visually through Graphic, Web, and Multimedia Design. Rebecca Hagen and Kim Golombisky (2013). Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, Students, 2nd edition. Ellen Lupton (2010). Short excerpts PDF, available on Blackboard. Software Takes Command. Lev Manovich. (2013). Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences. Nancy Duarte. (2010). Presentation Zen Design. Garr Reynolds. (2009).

With no object, no image and no focus, what are you looking at? You are looking at you looking.
~ Artist James Turrell

Course objectives Throughout the course, the following questions will be considered ~
How are we to understand the aesthetic as communication as a mode of meaning making?

How do audiences create meaning through direct sensory perception as well as through mediated experience? How do current interfaces, design tools, and choices in form + content work to shape the audiences (or users) aesthetic experience? How does design function rhetorically, persuading an audience through multimodal elements? How can designers create an engaging aesthetic experience while delivering a message to an audience?

Department of Communication Studies, Saint Josephs University

Evaluation In this course students participate in a range of projects pertaining to the theory and practice of digital design and visual culture. All project details and evaluation methods will be discussed at length in class. 10% Blogs 15% In-class activities 60% Major Projects 15% Final Exam 10% Blogs (due Mondays at midnight) Blog posts are dynamic, aesthetically engaging, multimedia reading responses which demonstrate familiarity with the ideas in the assigned weekly course material (book chapters, articles, videos, TED talks, Observer of Taryn Simon exhibit at MOMA websites, tutorials etc). Responses should contain observable signs of notable effort, thinking, and involvement with the themes of the course, while developing a unique voice in the blogosphere. Responses should be approximately 400-words in length. Late work is not accepted. Assessment of blogging activity is ongoing throughout the course of the semester. 15% In-class activities (ongoing assessment) Students in this course will create their own communal context for learning by engaging in conversations with others. As such, being prepared to participate in 1) reading quizzes, 2) homework, 3) presentations, 4) discussions and 5) other in-class activities is paramount. Note: reading quizzes are administered at the very beginning of class. There are no make-up quizzes or time extensions for tardy students. There are no excuses. When you indicate that you are not engaged in the learning community - by tardiness, texting, doing other work, not staying on task during activities, etc. your grade will be affected. Assessment of your active participation in class is ongoing. 60% Major Projects There are five major projects in this course, each worth 12% of the total course grade. Each project is evaluated with a multimedia grading rubric. A reflective component is required with each project submission. Guidelines for projects, reflections, and rubrics will be presented in class. 12% Unit 1 Visual resume with typographic logo (due 9/10) 12% Unit 2 Infographic (due 10/1) 12% Unit 3 Cinemagraph (due 10/22) 12% Unit 4 Slide presentation with custom animation (due 11/12) 12% Unit 5 Main title sequence video (due 12/3) 15% Final Exam (12/13 9:00-11:00am) The final essay is a culmination of your thinking about themes in the course. It requires students to synthesize and evaluate course materials throughout the semester (Weeks 1-15). The final essay should be grounded by a strong thesis and construct specific arguments that are grounded in evidence.

Department of Communication Studies, Saint Josephs University

Unit 1 ~ Graphic Design


This introductory unit operates like a mini-art school, introducing students to some important elements of graphic design. Of particular interest are the ways in which specific design elements communicate messages to a target audience. In this unit, we will focus on three elements of graphic design, 1) type, 2) images, and 3) layout in order to understand a range of theoretical and cultural issues informing graphic design and its traditions. Unit objectives This unit begins with a viewing of the film Helvetica (2007), which serves as an introduction to typography as a tool to shape content and embody language. Students will learn about typography as it relates to graphic design and world visual culture. Students will be able to critique a range of typography and typesetting techniques as well as justify choices regarding font characteristics and styling. Students will learn to be inventive within systems of typographic form by designing a unique type logo for a visual resume.

Graphic Design by Frank Chimero

Within this graphic design unit, students will be introduced to Adobe Illustrator, a vector-based tool used to create digital illustrations for both print and digital environments. Students learn how to create and manipulate basic shapes with the pen and pencil tools, create gradients, work with type, use layers, create shapes, as well as use the fill, stroke, and transform tools. Students will also begin to develop their design sensibilities while working with Adobe InDesign, a desktop publishing tool used to create layouts for print and digital publishing. Students learn to combine type and image as they produce single and multi-page documents, format text, use frames, color management, import and create graphics, and prepare files for production. Through projects in this unit, students will rhetorically examine the persuasive effects of design elements and learn how to analyze and justify design decisions.

8/26 Reading due: Thinking with Type pages 10-54; White Space is Not Your Enemy pages 1-42. Film screening: Helvetica. Discussion. 9/3 Reading due: Thinking with Type pages 55-82; White Space is Not Your Enemy pages 42-112. Single-page document due. (Works every time layout). 9/10 Due: Project 1 (Visual resume due with type logo). Reading due: Thinking with Type: 84-146. Critiques. In class activity: Vectors. Poster creation, in class: combining type, color, and vector-based graphics.
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Unit 2 ~ Data-driven Design

Data visualization - the representation of information through images - is a powerful and innovative tool for conveying information to audiences. In this unit, we will explore ways to creatively visualize data, while rendering information more useful, engaging, and accessible to audiences.

Data design by Ben Fry

Unit objectives From boutique data to big numbers, students will examine both qualitative and quantitative datasets to design a variety of visualizations, including illustrations, mindmaps, infographics, sparklines, data matrices, and interactive graphic displays using open source data and tools. As we will work our way through the periodic table of data visualization methods, students will be able to distinguish between information, concept, strategy, metaphor, and compound visualization techniques.

Students will learn to critique data displays using a heuristic. Students will become familiar with data visualization experts while delivering a critique of a leading experts work (including Hans Rosling, Kim Crawford, Edward Tufte, Beck Tench, Ben Fry, and Jer Thorp, and Kim Rees).

9/17 Due: case study presentations; Reading: White Space is not your Enemy pages 159-176. Thinking with Type pages 148-206. Introduction to tools, methods, and players in the field; visualization strategy techniques, data sculptures. 9/24 Reading: Resonate excerpt. Periodic table of data visualization. Sparklines. Activity: Critiquing data displays (with a human-centered heuristic); Activity: infographic wireframe. 10/1 Due: Project 2 (Infographic); Reading: Software Takes Command excerpt. critique of infographics; open source data and tools: Gapminder, Trendanalyzer, Tableau, D3, OpenPaths.
Department of Communication Studies, Saint Josephs University 4

Unit 3 ~ Visual Story Design


Effective arguments rely increasingly on the power of images to persuade their audience. In this unit, we will examine how images communicate meaning to tell a powerful story. We will focus primarily on photographic storytelling methods, including how to shoot and sequence photos that tell stories about a person, place, event, or trend. Cinemagraph stills by Ann Street Studio To compliment our photography, we will watch parts of Wim Wenders film Until the End of the World (1999), which offers a critical commentary on global visual culture and the growing trend toward more mediated and shared experience. Unit objectives In this unit we will learn to rhetorically analyze and critique photographic images. As students analyze the persuasive effects of images, students will compare social trends related to direct aesthetic experience vs. indirect aesthetic experience (mediated through screens). Students will learn to approach and compose a photo shoot to convey mood and meaning. Students will also be able to articulate the image ethics involved in a shoot, practice the basics of composition and lighting, and develop image editing skills in Adobe Photoshop (including adjustment layers, saturation, exposure, contrast, and tone).

The unit culminates in the creation of Cinemagraphs - original content photography with a cinematic twist through the isolated animation of multiple frames. These animated photographs capture a moment in time or a living portrait of a person or place. Students will learn to create Cinemagraphs in Adobe Photoshop and publish in animated GIF format.

10/8 White Space is Not Your Enemy 135-158. Image analysis. Case studies: Paul Taggert, Ann Street Studio. Photoshop tutorial. 10/15 (Fall Break) Due: Visual story sequence due 10/22 Project 3 due (Cinemagraph); critique; Activity: Seeing through mediums: Until the End of the World

Department of Communication Studies, Saint Josephs University

Unit 4 ~ Presentation Design


Presentation design involves many moving parts - from design concept to developing entire presentation templates and systems, to including motion graphics, videos, and animated demos. This unit begins with a survey of trends in presentation design, featuring the work of Nancy Duarte, Garr Reynolds, and Steve Jobs. Students will examine best practices in translating complex information into intuitive and effective explanations. As the unit progresses, students will experiment with a variety of presentation tools and techniques in order to turn ideas into engaging visual presentations. Unit Objectives Creative presentations begin with storyboarding, a sequenced graphical organizer of events. Students will practice visual thinking techniques including conceptual thumbnail sketches and screen grabs. Students will then design a unique template and develop a clear and effective slide presentation with a consistent visual theme and compelling narrative arc. This Zen presentation will also demonstrate effective choices in text, image, color, formatting, data displays, and transitions.

Once students pass the Presentation Zen test, students will create more innovative and dynamic forms of presentation design and animation that are both analytically convincing and emotionally compelling.

10/29 Reading: Resonate excerpt. Storyboarding methods, slide design techniques. 11/5 Reading: Presentation Zen Design excerpt. Due: Zen slide presentation; critique. In class: advanced presentation animation. 11/12 Due: Project 4: Multimedia slide presentations; critiques

Presentation design by Duarte

Department of Communication Studies, Saint Josephs University

Unit 5 ~ Sound and Video Design


This final unit functions as a mini film school, introducing students to some of the nuances of sound and video production. After learning to analyze sound and film design, students will engage in hands-on training in video and audio recording and editing. Unit Objectives Students learn to aesthetically critique film and sound design, from award winning examples from Maya Derens Meshes of the Afternoon (1943), to George Lucass debut film THX 1138 (1971) to Francis Ford Coppolas Apocalypse Now (1979), to Anthony Minghellas The English Patient (1996). The major project in this unit revolves around the re-making of a professional quality main title sequence. Options include Digital Kitchens award winning main title sequence Killer Breakfast from Showtimes Dexter or another well executed title sequence of the groups choice.

Throughout the unit, students will be involved in a variety of activities pertaining to video and sound design, including extensive storyboarding, POV, camera angles, lighting techniques, designing shots and mood, precise video capturing and editing, creative problem solving, and (lots of) collaborative teamwork.

1/19 Reading: Walter Murch essays. In class: film and sound design analysis; advanced storyboarding; prop lists. 11/26 (Thanksgiving Break) Due: film screening; filming and editing of main title sequence

Video stills from the Dexter Project

12/3 Due: Project 5; screening of projects; critiques. Course theme review. 12/13 Final Exam 9:00-11:00am

Department of Communication Studies, Saint Josephs University

Policies & Expectations I expect you to come to each class on time, fully prepared to engage in the dialectical exchange of ideas. It is your responsibility to bring the necessary materials to class each week. Attendance Be here, on time. Because this a class that requires collaboration and discussion. You are expected to attend class each week and be prepared. We will often work on projects, watch videos, conduct group work, and other activities during class time. There is no substitute for your presence during class. Significant absences will hurt your grade because you will not be in class to participate and collaborate. I take attendance. After your second absence, I will deduct a full letter grade from your final grade (this means an A turns into a B) and so on. Lateness or leaving early is considered unprofessional and will also affect your participation grade; please show respect by being on time. Group work Group work is often assigned. This is your responsibility as a student and as a member of our learning community. If you are having a significant problem in your group, (e.g. a member cannot find time to meet, etc) be proactive and talk to me as soon as possible. If a student is unable to arrange meetings outside of class, an alternative reading assignment/essay will be be arranged. Late work Late work for major projects is deducted 1.0/day (24 hours). This means your "A" project will become a "B" within 24 hours. This includes days we do not meet in class, since you may always turn things in digitally. This policy stands, even when your technology crashes. (Always back-up your work.) That is not an excuse. The only excuse from this policy is a note from your Dr., an advisor, Barack, etc. Please note: late work for weekly reading responses is not accepted. Academic honesty If you use ideas or information that are not common knowledge, you must cite a source. This rule applies to all the course activities and projects including reading responses, multimedia projects, and essays. How to cite a source will be discussed in class. St. Josephs Universitys academic honesty policy can be found here: http:// www.sju.edu/int/resources/registrar/ahpolicies.html. The penalty for plagiarism is an automatic Fail for this class and a letter of notification to the Committee on Discipline. If you are suspected of plagiarism or an act of dishonesty, action will be taken. Acts of dishonesty In all courses, each student has the responsibility to submit work that is uniquely his or her own. All of this work must be done in accordance with established principles of academic integrity. Specific violations of this responsibility include, but are not limited to, the following: A. Cheating, copying, or the offering or receiving of unauthorized assistance or information in examinations, tests, quizzes, reports, assigned papers, or special assignments, as in computer programming, studio work, and the like; B. The fabrication or falsification of data, results, or sources for papers or reports C. Any action which destroys or alters the work of another student; D. The multiple submission of the same paper or report for assignments in more than one course without the prior written permission of each instructor;
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E. Plagiarism, the appropriation of information, ideas, or the language of other persons or writers and the submission of them as one's own to satisfy the requirements of a course. Plagiarism thus constitutes both theft and deceit. Compositions, term papers, or computer programs acquired, either in part or in whole, from commercial sources or from other students and submitted as one's own original work shall be considered plagiarism. All students are directed to the standard manuals of style or reference guides for discussions of plagiarism and the means by which sources are legitimately acknowledged, cited, quoted, paraphrased, and footnotedwhether presented in an oral report or in writing. F. Unauthorized Collaboration Rules regarding the use of information in this course: 1) If you use the language of your source, you must quote it exactly, enclose it in quotation marks and cite the source - even in your weekly reading responses and your blog posts. If you use the language of your source, quote the wording exactly. This is called a direct quotation. A direct quotation is either enclosed in quotation marks or indented on the page. If you omit part of the wording, use an ellipsis (three periods, four if necessary for punctuation to indicate the omission). In any case, several words in succession taken from another source constitute direct quotation and must be acknowledged. 2) A paraphrase employs source material by restating an idea in an entirely new form that is original in both sentence structure and word choice. Taking the basic structure from a source and substituting a few words is an unacceptable paraphrase and may be construed as plagiarism. Creating a new sentence by merging the wording of two or more sources is also plagiarism. Disabilities Those of you who have or think that you may have a disability (learning, physical or psychological), are encouraged to contact Services for Students with Disabilities, Room 113, Science Center, 610-660-1774 or 610-660-1620 as early as possible in the semester. Accommodations can only be provided to students with current (within 3 years) documentation. Students are encouraged to discuss their instructional (reasonable academic adjustments) and accommodation needs with their professors. The Office of Services for Students with Disabilities will do all it can to accommodate qualified students with disabilities. However, there may be times when a disagreement will occur between the student and the University. The student has a right to file a grievance for complaints regarding a requested service or accommodation on the basis of a disability under Section 504 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and University policies. If you have any questions contact Jim Scott, Director of Services for Students with Disabilities Science Center Room 113, 610-660-1774 or jscott@sju.edu.

Department of Communication Studies, Saint Josephs University