GOING ON TOUR: ART & TOURISM

Syllabus

Meeting Time/Place: Wednesday 4-6:40pm in Art & Design 229

Course Description

In the field of contemporary art, travel is an accepted condition of professional practice, where artists, curators, scholars, critics and just plain enthusiasts often travel near and far to participate and witness staged art events, such as the various and numerous international art biennials, academic conventions and media festivals. But there is a much longer history of artists and travel in the Global Western tradition, from the colonial recorders of "New Worlds" to early modernists on holiday in seaside France, that forms an important context of the contemporary condition. This course will examine and explore tourism from creative as well as critical perspectives through readings, presentations, short trips and written and creative assignments.

In this course, tourism will be examined as both a spectacular and mundane activity, drawing from conventional notions of "the exotic" and theories of "the everyday" that we experience in the process of travel. We will accomplish this through a series of reflexive exercises that will be framed by specific readings from the fields of art practice and criticism, cultural theory, geography, architecture and anthropology as well as lectures and presentations by the instructor, guest speakers and other students. We may also take a series of voluntary short trips, potentially outside of the designated course time, to destinations that could include Chicago, Indianapolis, and other locations in closer proximity.

The structure of this course is based on a combination of the seminar model (meaning there are select readings on a theme/topic that provide the foundation for group discussion and debate) + a studio workshop (where we will practice exercises in responding to problems through making and evaluating). Basically, we will be rigorously thinking about the making of "art" through experiential forms that draw from tourism as a discourse, not unlike how one might practice painting in dialogue with the historical/formal concerns of painting.

Importantly, we will be "practicing" throughout the sememster, developing ideas and fluency through "sketches" before developing a more resolved work, so to speak. It is crucial for this class to work that everyone is willing to work thoughtfully, keeping the larger process and conceptual trajectory in sight.

Objectives and Goals

This course aims to introduce students to significant artistic practices that incorporate, critically and creatively, the experience of travel and tourism. Through such an introduction, students will be exposed to critical questions of larger concern such as:
- How is mobility regulated, monitored and controlled through architecture, language and other codified elements of space?
- How does our perceived relationship to a space, as "insider" or "outsider" affect social relationships within that space/place and those that inhabit it?
- What role does tourism play in larger social, political and cultural formations?
- How can tourism be practiced in a way that acknowledges and responds to the historic problems with colonial desires and exoticism?
Students will form a thoughtful relationship to these questions, not necessarily through answering them, but by creating individually and socially meaningful methods of response.

These goals will be achieved through regular critical and creative assignments. Written assignments will be completed in response to the regular readings and presentations in which students will be expected to synthesize the arguments and information presented. These writings will be performed through the use of a course wiki (collectively edited web document). Creative assignments will be art-based exercises and projects created individually and collaboratively in response to specifically posed problems.

Required Texts

There is a reader that has been specifically designed and edited for this course, culling materials from a variety of books on travel, tourism, mobility and cultural theory.
This book will be found in the University Bookstore - ask where you can find course packets if you do not see it in the obvious location.

Supplies

You will need basic supplies - notebook, things to write with. You will probably also need some kind of portable, digital media storage (a USB flash drive, for example).
We will be making use of various digital technologies, including video and audio. You have paid a facility fee that gives you access to such equipment from the check-out window and access to Art & Design computer labs.

Grading Policy

Regular attendance is a necessity, as is classroom participation. Both will have a crucial bearing on your final grade.
Excessive absences [3 or more] can lower a grade by one full letter or more.
Only absences resulting from extreme illness or otherwise documentable circumstances (such as a family emergency or emergency hospital/doctor visit) will be "excused". All other absences will be counted.
Two late arrivals to class will constitute an absence.
Writing assignments will be graded on a credit / no credit basis, and will also be a deciding factor in each student's final grade.

If you show up without required work, you will be considered absent. Projects not delivered on time will receive one letter grade deduction for every weekday not delivered.

Grading will be determined as follows:
In class participation/reading responses: 30%
Exercises: 30%
Final Project: 40%