FALL 2011 ART 511.02 Art & Theory in Technology: Locative Studio

T/TH 2:10 pm - 4:50 pm  Fine Arts Room 544

Instructor: Paula Levine    Office: Fine Arts Rm 537   T: 415.338.6457   

Office hrs: T/TH 12-2PM, and by appointment


Course Description [pdf]

Our lives are changing. We live within systems of Über-connected, enveloping networks of communication of the internet, wireless, GPS receptivity, directionality … now all available in small portable devices like phones.  When you walk down the street, you see people looking down at screens as they traverse the city rather than at the physical environments or people around them.


How are these systems and devices changing our relationship to place and space and each other?  How can artists shape these new experiences and make a difference?


Since 2002, there has been a growing burgeoning field of practice called, Locative media, which uses "place-based" technologies, like GPS and cell phones along with other tools like mapping to produce amazing work:  using public space as the site for gaming, producing place-based story-telling and experimental poetry, sound and narrative controlled and experienced by a body in motion, drawings and paintings made by the trajectories of GPS traces of bodies through space, and more.  Thanks to these new emergent systems, devices and mobile media, space, in particular public space, will never be the same.


Locative Studio

Locative Studio is a combined studio/lecture class that explores both the tools and the impact of these changes.  It is a class in which students produce studio work that engages questions, uses new tools and dives into some of the changes taking place in the field. Because the field is still taking shape, Locative Studio is an opportunity to participate in a new, emerging field where students can bring their ideas, tools and creative experimentations to the table.



Relevant topics include: history of navigation, mapping, public space as sites for intervention, theories of place and space and more. Other areas may include: radical cartography, work by the Situationists, research and discussion of contemporary locative art and current trajectories of locative media such as gaming, mapping, innovative new narrative spaces and social networking.  


Students will work with GPS units, cell phones and other devices and materials to create place- based projects that may include sound, images or maps.


Class work involves studio work, field work, computer lab, readings and discussions, class critiques or projects.


Resources, references and works for Art 511 come from:

• Contemporary locative practices

• Situationists, Conceptual Art, Interventionists

• Radical spatial practices, new cartographies, social networking practices

• Cultural theory, semiotics, literature, urban studies, geography


Goals & objectives:

• Attain a functional level of mastery in the technology and software presented, or build on the level of skill already in place.

• Develop a strong written, visual and verbal language of criticality and engagement through presentations and class discussions of work.

• Develop research skills and incorporate research into art studio practices.

• Expand existing knowledge learning a new arena of practice that bridges art, location-based media and other areas such as urban studies, spatial practices, new cartography.

• Broaden studio strategies, approaches and sources of ideas.

• Get lost and find your way.



Art 511 involves reading, writing and studio work.  Class meets twice a week, for 3 hours a session, and there is an additional 3 hours of outside class work expected per week. Readings will be handed out in class, or available on-line.  There may be additional materials to purchase.  All course materials, such as syllabus and assignments, will be located on-line on the class web site ( Students will keep blogs through the semester for reading responses, research, project proposals, and ongoing ideas. There will be exercises and projects through the semester, with a culminating final project and final research paper.


Course Requirements & Expectations:

1. Regular attendance. Attendance is kept for the class throughout the semester.  Three unexcused absences will be an automatic "F". Two late arrivals = one unexcused absence.

2. Active participation in class discussions, assignments, exercises & critiques.

3. Complete all assignments on time. Full credit will be reduced by ½ grade for each class an assignment is late.

4. Keep an ongoing blog of ideas, notes from class discussions of work and readings.  The notations should reflect your wrestling with class material to make ideas your own.

5. Bring any problems, questions or circumstances that hamper full participation in class to the attention of the instructor as soon as circumstances arise.



Overall, grading is in accordance with University standards outlined in the SFSU Bulletin - Grading Policy which can be found at:


Specific criteria for grading in this class for excellence (A):

1. Maintain a constant and growing blog reflecting a consistent and focused engagement with ideas, works, discussions and other related subject matters and class exchanges.

2. Complete all assignments on time.

3. Actively participate in and contribute to all class discussions, critiques, lectures and presentations.

4. Maintain a consistent and timely presence.

5. Take risks in projects and ideas, pushing past what you already. Ideas that fail can teach more than ideas that succeed so fail good.


Lab Fees

The lab fee for this course is $40 and must be paid by the last day courses can be changed. If you remain enrolled in this course past the add/drop deadline, a charge for the above amount will appear in your University Account. Notification will be sent by the Art Department Office when your University Account has been charged. Lab fee payments can be made at One-Stop Student Services (SSB 103) or the Bursar’s Office (ADM 155). Unpaid balances in the student university account can affect registration, graduation or other campus services.



If you are on academic probation, make an appointment as soon as possible to work out what you need to do to meet the terms of your probation.



The Disability Programs and Resource Center provides university academic support services and specialized assistance to students with disabilities. Students with disabilities who need reasonable accommodations are encouraged to contact the instructor.  The Disability Programs and Resource Center (DPRC)  is available to facilitate the reasonable accommodations process.  The DPRC is located in the Student Service Building and can be reached by telephone (voice/TTY 415-338-2472) or by email ( If you have any problems, such as physical disabilities, that require special attention or accommodations, please contact me directly.