SHAPING THE TERRAIN: AN EXPERIMENT IN CULTURAL DESIGN
University of Southern Maine (UNITED STATES)
This paper will address the role that design can play in contemporary fine arts curricula. It will do so by laying out the theoretical underpinnings for a course in the digital mapping of potential public art sites in the city of Portland, ME. The course will be offered as part of the digital arts concentration at the University of Southern Maine in the fall of 2009 in cooperation with the Portland Percent for Art Committee. Students will experiment with information design, the design of public space and with expanded definitions of design that include a meshing of aesthetic systems with scientific methodologies. Additionally, the course will take students off the paths prescribed by city planners into remote areas and niches of the city to observe textures and patterns of urban space.
Students will be introduced to the ways in which digital mapping and imaging technologies can be used to shape the cultural terrain and will learn: (1) the basics of illustration software used in art and design (2) the basics of digital mapping applications used in the sciences (3) to develop criteria for identifying potential public art sites (4) to develop graphic representations of public art proposals and interventions (5) about aesthetic and social concerns surrounding public art, including an examination of the value systems that shape the cultural terrain.
Deliverables will include a GIS (Geographic Information Systems) map of potential sites and conceptual interventions done by students in response to the sites. My role will be project coordinator and instructor. The course integrates my teaching with my research and creative activity and addresses questions about aesthetics and the diverse value systems that shape public spaces.
Jan Piribeck is an Associate Professor of Art and Chair of the University of Southern Maine Art Department. She has a long-standing interest in public art and creative uses of new and emerging technologies. Over the past decade these interests have merged in projects focusing upon the interplay between art and GIS (Geographic Information Science). Her work has been shown in venues such as the SIGGRAPH International Conference on Computer Graphics, the Boston Cyberarts Festival and the Maine Plugged-In Festival.