CURVES AND WAVES: SCIENCE AND VISUAL PLEASURE IN COMPUTATIONAL CINEMA
AND EXPERIMENTAL FILM
An introduction to visual computing in motion
I. THE COURSE
Curves and Waves is a cross-over course, a first survey of computational
scientific animation which enjoys the convergence of aesthetics and epistemology
that results from setting the experimental film practices of the last thirty
years next to the scientific visualization work of the last fifteen. It
will avoid areas of computer animation developed out of entertainment traditions.
And it is not intended to be a technical introduction, but rather an introduction
to some of the ideas excited by the intersection of art and science.
Although the course is an introduction to scientific visualization work,
it will emphasize aspects of that work that are not necessarily the aspects
most important to scientists. A few of the tapes shown will have been chosen
to make technological points, but most are chosen because they are beautiful.
The result is a very rich ensemble of work that is principled, inventive,
compelling and evocative -- work that provides very sophisticated forms
of visual experience and meaning. Lecture and reference material are designed
to mark certain visual elements and principles, and to provide working
vocabulary to people who have been working intuitively with those elements
At its deepest level the course is about the relation of mathematics
and vision, i.e. about the relation between experience and formal systems.
I am taking the notion of structure (with its related mathematical
notions of function, model, and mapping/transformation)
as mediating this relation, and the teaching challenge of the course
will be to handle structural ideas in ways that don't frighten students
who are in arts courses (also) because they think they can't handle math.
course text: Visualization: the Second Computer Revolution,
Friedhoff and Benzon
1. 5 session-hours of scientific background
The course will offer general understanding of key concepts from mathematics,
computer science, computer graphics, physics, and other application areas.
There will be a wide range in students' background knowledge, so references
include both easy (Computer Graphics World) and more difficult material.
2. 3 session-hours of cognitive background
- This material toward a cognitive aesthetics of film is based on recent
work in connectionist neurophilosophy and is likely to be completely new
to students. It will set up concepts needed to ground the rest of the course
in an awareness that pleasure and knowledge, both taken as structured states
of an experienced brain, are neither materially nor conceptually distinct.
3. the rest of the semester
- would be given to particular methodologies and applications as described
in sections III. and IV.