September 4, 2008


Professors: Guerino Mazzola, Ali Momeni, Michael Sommers
Fall 2008: COLA 1001: The Art of Collaboration

Course Description
This introductory course presents the characteristics and the challenges of collaboration through three representative approaches from the visual arts, music, and theater. The course unfolds around concrete problematic situations arising from the project of a collaborative and multimedia-enhanced project.

The class includes lectures by guest artists as well as exploration of the cultural landscape of the Twin Cities.

This is an introductory course that is being created as part of the core curriculum.

Goals and Objectives
The course objective is to make the students acquainted with the characteristics and challenge of collaboration, to teach them the intellectual and behavioral instruments of performing this art, specifically the installation and handling of a collaborative space, the flow performance of a distributed identity, and the communicative tools set forth by interdisciplinary exchange of ideas. The course content is designed upon a shared multimedia-opera project, upon which these three instruments (collaborative space, flow, gestures) are trained and exemplified.

I grade on a scale 0-100 with 0.1 steps: 95-100 = A, 90-94 = A-, 85-89 = B+, 76-84 = B, 70-75 = B-, 65- 69 = C; 60-64 = C-, 50-59 = D, 0-49 = F.

Final grade: Class participation and attendence 20%, personal growth 15%, three class projects and research 15% each, final project 20%. Plagiarism will not be tolerated and will lead to failure.

The three faculty will contribute one pillar of the course each from their specific competence and thematic orientation:

Pillar of Guerino Mazzola
The embodied pulsation between the gesture of making, the processs, and the resulting facts. Collaboration is spanned between the agents, which jointly make the labor, the processes they instantiate in so doing, and the resulting objects, facts, and works. We focus on the conceptual and technical devices needed in order to control these three layers of embodiment of knowledge production and their interplay. Collaboration must therefore transcend the merely interdisciplinary objectives, it has to deal with a different behavior in the making, in the communication between the agents, and in the critique of the resulting works, which bounce back to their creators. We shall typically exemplify this philosphy by examples from the world of jazz.

Pillar of Ali Momeni
Technology as a common language for collaboration: We focus on the use of technology as a medium for interconnecting differing disciplines.  We explore the fields of tangible and physical computing, interactive media, real-time audio and video software as well as the Do-It-You spirit that permeates these communities.  We also explore the art of learning about theories, ideas and techniques that are outside of one's area of comfort.  The students are introduced to the OpenSource Arudino electronics platform, as well as Cycling '74's Max/MSP/Jitter programming environment for creating real-time applications for sound, video and the real world. 

Pillar of Michael Sommers
The Body in Performance: Students will explore the boundaries and intersections where multiple art forms and practices converge. Students will collaborate to co-author and co-create a series of works for in-class and public performance. Emphasis will be on exploring the collaborative process and the possibilities of integrating visual art, music, theatre and dance to create interdisciplinary and collaborative thinking, art, and performance.

Selected Original References
(1) Anne Bogart: A Director Prepares 2001
(2) Tom Igoe: Physical Computing: Sensing and Controlling the Physical World with Computers by and Dan O'Sullivan (Paperback - May 28, 2004)
(3) Tom Igoe: Making Things Talk: Practical Methods for Connecting Physical Objects (Paperback - Sep 28, 2007)
(4) Keith Sawyer: Group Creativity: Music, Theatre, Collaboration 2003