Art 412: Areas of Inquiry/Study Guide  - Art/Cultural:Technical:Director

Stephen Wilson Professor, Conceptual/Information Arts, San Francisco State University
(more information on CIA    More info on 412 course at

Technical Topics

What is an operating system? What are its present and future functions?  What are key features of the Macintosh system? · Booting, Loading, Saving, Cataloguing, Managing files, Communicating with humans, Communication with printers, Micro & mainframe systems, Accounting, Security, Time Sharing, Intelligent Agents, PIMs, Remote Computing, Network, Wireless, Artifical Intelligent Agents

· Graphical Interface, Desktop Metaphor

What are computer graphics? Paint programs? Illustration programs?  What can you do with these programs?  What is the difference between vector and bit-mapped images? · Freehand & straight lines, regular and irregular shapes, paint brushes, air brush simulations, fills, erasers, patterns, Bit mapped vs Object oriented graphics What are comptuer graphics formats?  How do they differ? · Bitmapped vs Vector, Postcript, PICT, TIFF, PAINT, GIF, EPS, JPEG How does scanning work?  What parameters must be attended to? ·  dpi, nature of image, line art, photographic, colors What are image editing programs?  Introduction to Photoshop · Graphic Manipulations; multiple images, cloning, scaling, rotation, perspective, image enhancement, filters, collage What are the underlying principles of computer graphics?  What are pixels, resolution, color palettes, coordinate systems? · What is resolution?  How does the Cartesian Coordinate system work? Vertical & Horizontal axes, the Origin.  Underlying assumptions about understanding space What are ergonomics?  What are the dangers to the eyes and body of working with computers?  What safety steps can be taken to avoid damage?

What are the basic principles of Electronics?  How do tubes, transistors, integrated circuits work?

·  Introduction to Electronics:  History, How does a tube work? amplication effect, switching effect, transistors, integrated circuits, How are integrated circuits made What is the difference between analog and digital electronics?  How does digitization work?  What is digital logic?  How do computers work to represent intelligent processes? · What are the strengths of each -- precision, conversion, cumbersomeness?  Truth tables and digital logic.  Philsophical issues about nature of the world.

· -Microcomputer architecture:  Sense, Decide, Store, Act.  CPU, data & address lines, memory, program counter, instruction sets.

What are the electronic principles underlying representation of quantity, image, text, and sound?  What are base 2 and base 10 systems?  What are alternative number systems?  What is ASCII code?  How are images represented? ·  Alternative number systems:  Brainwashed acceptance of convention, What is the difference between decimal, binary, and hexadecimal numbers?  Reading numbers in the different systems. Relation of binary numbers to digital electronics. Bits & Bytes.  Possible combinations possible in 1 or 2 bytes.

· Representation of concepts other than numbers in binary systems.  ASCII convention for representing letters. Representing sounds, colors.

How do scientists analyze sound?  What are the underlying parameters?  How does sound digitization work?  How do sound editing programs work?  What sound formats are there? · Computer synthesized sound:  Amplitude, frequency, wave shape, ADSR envelopes, analog & digitally synthesized sound,  CPU based sound, special sound integrated chips

· Computer digitized sound.  Sampling rates, quantization, compression

· Sound formats (AIFF, WAV), sampling rate, resolution, MIDI, realPlayer, MP3

· Computer Music and Sound Applications -- computer aided Instruction in Music, Synthesized music composition and performance, Music notation programs

· Introduction to SoundEdit application: recording, effects, editing, tracks, formats

What is MIDI?  How do sequencing programs work?  What is speech synthesis?  How can programs control speech? · MIDI standards.  note events, program (patch choices), enhancements How does data based telecommunications work?  What is a modem? What is the history of the Internet?  What is the technical and historical principles of the internet?

How does a web browser work?  What are plug ins?  How do search engines work?

How does computer memory work?  How is it measured?  What is the difference between ic chip , hard disk, and removable memory?

·  Hard disk physical characteristics & care, Tracks, Sectors, Initializing disks.  Optical systems.  CD and DVD recorders and formats.

· Hardware memory- core, ram, rom, prom, eprom.  Removable memory -- paper tape, punch cards, magnetic tape, floppy disk, hard disk, bubble memory, optical memory, bacterial memory.

How do computer hard copy print out systems work?  What are page description languages such as postscript? · Photography of video screens, Printers- daisywheel & dot matrix, Plotters, new technologies - ink jet, laser, electrostatic, Photo-CD, color What are programming languages?  How do they differ?  What languages are available? · Comparisons of programming languages:  High vs. low level languages.  Interpreters vs. compilers.Machine language, assembly language, BASIC, FORTRAN, PASCAL, COBOL, FORTH, C, LOGO, LISP, MODULA 2, ADA, Java, Perl.  Operating systems - Windows, Mac OS, OSX, UNIX ,Linnux?  Strengths & weaknesses of languages. How does digital video work?  How does digitization and compression work?  What parameters must be attended to?  What file formats are there? · Varieties of graphics hardware:  How does TV work? How does it create color? Scan lines, NTSC standards, RGB, frame rates, persistence of vision.   How do vector based graphics systems work?  Storage tubes, direct analog control of magnets.  How do raster systems work? How do text screens work?  Frame buffers, screen memory, tradeoffs between resolution and color.  Calculations of memory requirements for certain displays.  Why are high resolution displays expensive and hard to design?   Why can't any TV be hooked up to any computer?  What is the difference between regular TV and computer monitors?   Comparisons of vector and raster based systems.  How are professional quality computer graphics created?  How is animation created?

How can one use computers to sense and control physical events in the world?  What kinds of principles underlie the operation of sensors?  How can sensors and actuators communicate with the computer?

What are the components of a computer system?  How do systems differ?


Art/Cultural Topics

What is critical theory?  What is postmodernism?  How do theorists think about technology and art?

· Survey of Themes from Critical Theory and Culture Stuides:  Post-Industrialism, Media Culture, Postmodernism,Structuralism, Deconstruction, Demise of the Avant-garde.

· Issues in Critical Theory:  Assumptions in the theories, Disjunctions between critical theory and scientific world views, Mediated image and representations vs. real things and organisms, Uncertain validity of action.

· Current Themes: What Is Reality and How Can We Come to Know It; Are Bodies and Physical Space Relevant?; Digital Culture and Identity; The Relationship of Digital Technologies to Gender, Class, and Socioeconomic Forces; Information Structures and the Fabric of Life; The Role of the Arts in Digital Culture; Interactivity and User-Interface Conventions; Media Archeology

What areas of scientific inquiry and technological development are likely to be important in the future? What are possible ways for the arts to relate to research?

· Artist Stances: Modernist updating , Deconstruction as Art, Research as Art.

· Sources of Information:  Importance of information sources outside the arts, networks, journals, media, trade shows, research, artist as early warning system for culture.

· Key research areas:  New Biology; Materials Science and Computer Integrated Manufacture; Military, Surveillance & Auto ID;  Space Science; Telecommunications; Artificial Intelligence, Artificial Life, & Robotics; Human-Machine Interface; Virtual Reality & Simulation; Hypermedia, Interactive Multimedia, & Cultural Extensions

How does one create a metaphoric space on the computer that can represent a virtual world?

What is hypermedia?  What different ways can information architecture be conceptualized?

· Interactivity:  Patterns of Navigation:  Linear, Branching, Hypermedia, Exploration Environments   -Patterns of  User Interaction:  Presence, Choice, Hypermedia Exploration, Contribution

What are the strengths and weaknesses of interactive art?  What are customization and targeted media?

How does one use life and everyday events as a source for art?

Some landmarks in Interactive Art

Hans Haacke
Shapolsky et al. Manhattan Real Estate Holdings, A Real Time Social System (connections between boards of directors for Moma and corporations)

MoMA Poll
(accumulate visitor attitudes)

Alan Kaprow

Happenings - events in real spaces
eventually not scripted
Explored ideas of blurring art & life


Joseph Beuys
Social sculpture - political action as art

Vito Acconci
Performance involving audience
Follow Piece - follows people on the street

Three relationships - talk to audience


Kit Galloway & Sherrie Rabinowitz
Hole in Space
Ad hoc street access to Satellite image communitcation

Living Theater
break down barrier between audience and actors

What is conceptual art?  What are some examples of conceptual strategies?  How can they be used as tools for creating art?

What is an art critique?  What are the responsibilities of the audience and the artists? How can its benefits be maximized?

How have artists approached work with the aesthetics of sound?  How have they worked with noise, music, speech?  What is sound ecology?

How have artists approached work with the aesthetics of text?  What is concrete poetry?  How can text be approached as a visual element?

How have artists worked with randomness? Order, chaos, and randomness in the world and in art.

What is Artificial Intelligence?  How is it being applied?  What philosphical issues does it raise?  How are artists working with it?

What is telepresence?  What is virtual reality? How are they being applied?  What philosphical issues do they raise?  What is the place of embodiment?  How are artists working with them?

What are the ways that artists around the world have approached working with technology? What are artists doing in interactive media, robotics, biology, artificial life, information structures, etc?  Where can one find resources to find out more?

What local resources exist? Exploratorium, the Tech, galleries, museums, special shows?

What are the cultural implications of the following technology trends?  How can the arts work in these arenas?  Hypermedia and the structure of information; Telecommunications, networks, World Wide Web, groupware, remote omputing, and the changing nature of information sources; Simulation, virtual worlds, and artificial realities; Remote sensing, robotics, and telepresence; Artificial Intelligence; Gesture recoginition; New Biology; Materials Science; Space Science


Using Director

· (See Director On-Line Tutorial) What is the basic structure of Director?  What are its main functional parts - movies, scores, frames,  sprites, cast members? · Director Oganizational Key Concepts  Stage,  Cast (paint,tools,text,sounds, vector, digital movies, scripts); Score (Time Line model),  Channels   (visual sprites, sounds, tempo, transitions, palettes),  Control Panel,  Message Window How do you draw computer images using Director's basic tools?  How do you use the bit-mapped and vector systems? ·  Differences between raster & vector image systems;   File formats;  Options  (shapes, lines, text, filled areas, buttons);  Color systems (Palette channel - system palatte, cross platform, custom palettes, resolution, gradients); How do you create animations in Director? · Real time recording, Looping, Inbetweening - linear, special, Cast to time, Space to time, Paste relative, Substitution of cast members, Rotation How do you use Director's graphic manipulation tools - flips, inks, etc? ·  Inks - (copy, transparent, revesal, etc.);  Effects - (flips, rotates, scaling, inversion) What is a programming language?  How does Lingo work?  What are messages, objects, and behaviors?  How do you program Director? · Programming in Director/Lingo:  Sequential program structure, Object oriented programming, Messages and Message handlers, ExitFrame and Idle, mouseup and rollovers.

·  Process of programming:  Value of program bugs, learning from mistakes, systematic problem solving and algorithmic thinking,  Problem Solving, Algortihms, Heuristics, Translations from hand proceses, Debugging

· -Director -   Introduction to Lingo - Interactivity

·  Object oriented vs procedural languages

·  Messages and message handlers

· Where to put scripts - sprite, cast, frame

·  Procedure for creating scripts, documenting, commenting

·  Interactive Design - creating scenarios and choices

·  Interactive metaphor events - mousebuttons, key typing, mousemovement

·  Commands/Properties ( on mouseUp,  mouseDown,  keyUp, keyDown, commenting -- )

How does one create navigation in Director?  What are markers?  What commands control movement among frames in a score? · -Director - Simple Interactive Navigation ·  Frame numbers, frame names, markers

·  Managing frame space

·  Attaching scripts to sprites, buttons, and castmembers

·  Simple control of frame movement - halt pause, continue

·  Commands/Properties ( go, theFrame, previous, next,halt pause, continue)

How can one create interactive buttons, text, and graphics?  What is a rollover?  What kind of user actions can be sensed?  How can these be used to initiate actions · Mouse Events - down, up, enter, leave, within, stilldown, mouseloc, mouseH, mouseV, clickloc, lastclick, clickOn What are variables?  How can the be used to store information and to manipulate properties of graphics, text, and sound?  What is difference between local and global variables?

What are properties and functions? How can they be used in events?

· Freestanding commands (halt, quit, restart); comands and arguments (go to frame x, set x to y);  keywords, statements & expressions, constants, operators

· Functions,  conditions & status (set the visible to true/false); checking status (if the key = "a" then go frame "animal"); testing functions in message window

· Properties; testing, setting;  system properties (the platform); movie properties (the stagecolor); sprite proterties, cast properties; sound properties, digital video properties

What text properties can be manipulated - for example, size, font, position, content...?  How does one test them and set them?  How can one dynamically change the text?  How can one incorporate user typed text? · Introduction to text - fonts, size, style, height · Manipulations of text:  size,font,style,color, components - character, word, item, lines

·  Editable text of sprite - allowing user modfication

·  Programming text  - set the text of cast, field

·  Modifying text - put into, before, after, delete

·  Elements of text - chars, words, items, lines

·  Information about text - number of, length, the last, contains

·  Interactions with text - mouseword, mousechar, mouseline, the key, lastkey

·  Using Alert boxes

·  Commands/Properties  (textfont, textsize, textstyle, textheight, editabletext, put, number of, char, word, item, line, contains, last, mouseword, mousechar, mouseline, the key, lastkey)

·  Commands/Properties  ( alert "text")

What image properties can be manipulated - for example, size, postition, color...?  How does one test them and set them?  How does one control appearance of sprites, cast members, and the stage. ·  -Controlling visible appearance - color, visibility, size, cast member ·  -Controlling the stage, cursor - setting location, color, cursor cast

· - Commands/Properties  (locV, locH, moveabLessprite, bottom, top, left,  right, center, height, width, lefttop, botright, rect, constraint)

·  -Commands/Properties  (visible, stretch, spritebox, blend, forecolor, backcolor, trails, ink, cast of, crop)

·  -Commands/Properties  (stageColor, stageBottom, stageTop, stageRight,stageLeft, centerStage, cast number of cursor)

·  Control which member/picture is mapped to which sprite (the member of sprite #; the picture of sprite #)

· - Commands/Properties  (the puppet of sp#, puppet sprite#,true,

· puppetPalette cast#, puppetSound cast#, puppetSprite chan#, puppetTemp speed, puppetTransition id#)

What is a message handler?  How does one write a custom handler subroutine?  What are they good for?

If Logic:  What are conditionals?  How does one use if...then statements to control the flow of events and the semblance of intelligence?

· Control of Flow.  If statements, If-then-else, CASE statement

· Using if intelligence to bounce, wrap, follow the mouse

Loops: What are loops?  How does one use the repeat command structure?  How can work with them in media events? · Repeat Loops. ·  Introduction to loops - repeat with, repeat while

·  Loop Structures:  Use of variables as counters, using branches to end loops.  Sequential Loops, Nested Loops.  Animation Relationship of program and visual structures.

·  Introduction to variabLess - global, local, set get

·  Commands/Properties  (repeat with, repeat while, global, nothing, pass, showlocals, showglobals, set, get)

Sound: What sound properties can be manipulated - for example, volume, sequence, synchronization with other events?  How does one control sound?  How does one work with different sound formats? ·  Built in Sound Channels, Linked files;  Waiting for a sound to finish (Tempo or Lingo); Using the soundbusy() function; Stopping sounds, changing volume, enabling sounds; Example volume control by mouse position

·  Commands/Properties  (puppetsound ch#.  soundplayfile ch#, soundstop ch#, soundenabled, soundlevel, volume of, soundfadein, soundfadeout, soundbusy, beep)

Random: How does one use the random statement to manipulate events? · Generation of random numbers within a desired range Digital Video:  What properties can be controlled?  How does one synchronize video with other events? · Lingo control of quicktime - start,stop,framerate, size, speed

·  Commands/Properties  ( controller of cast#, directtoState of cast, duration of cast,  frameRate of cs#,  movieRate of sp#, movieTime of sp#, startTime of sp, stopTime of sp, set video of cast# to true, volume of sp#)

Shockwave-Projectors:  How does one save movies as projectors or shockwave?  What special preparation in needed?

Web:  How does one use commands to access resources directly from the Web?

Time: How does work with timers, time and date detection?

· Time, Duration, Timers Delays, Time & Date,Using timers, timeouts, and lasteventsv

·  Commands/Properties  (date, time, abbrev time, long date, ticks, delay, timeout, timeoutLength, timeoutLapsed, timeoutScript, timeoutKeyDown, timeoumouse, lastEvent, lastRoll)    Using the Idle message.

Lists: How does one work with lists? ·  Systematic storage of families of information;  Property Lists;  Creating and manipulation of lists - use of [] to indicate lists;

·  Commands/Properties  ( deleteAt, getAt, addAt, SetAt, add, getLast, getOne, getPos, count, append, sort, itemdelimiter)

·  Commands/Properties  ( delteProp, findPos, findPosNear, getaProp, getProp, getPropAt, addProp, setaProp, setProp)

Xtras: How does one work with Xtras? ·  Sources of xtras;  Use of the External file IO Xtra to store information

·  Sample events - cutomizing user interaction, storing states, cumulating information

·  Controlling Devices, appleEvents

·  Commands/Properties  (open/close xlib)

Sensors/Real World Control: How does one work with external sensors and actuators from within Director? ·  Universality of computer as logical device. Substitutability of inputs and outputs.

· Input Devices:  Keyboard, joystick, paddles, trackball, mouse, digitizer tablets (pressure, sonar, electromagnetic), touch screens, light pens, digitizer video cameras, speech, bar code readers, musical keyboards, new technologies -- proximity, gesture, eye movement, biofeedback sensors.

· Output devices: Graphics, sound, motion, light.  A/D and D/A conversion (Analog-Digital and Digital-analog):

· -pplications in the arts:  Robotics and Computer Aided Manufacture (CAM).  Control of theatrical lighting.  Control of Kinetic Sculpture, multi media control, Virtural Reality

Mathematics of Graphics:  How can one synthetically generate shapes -eg circles, sine waves