Looking Outwards

What is a “Looking Outwards” report?

Nearly every week this semester you will be asked to “look outwards” — to browse various blogs and feeds or other resources in order to deepen your knowledge of the field, and familiarize yourself with the current state of the art. You will then be expected to report on your findings, as described below — hopefully, with a critical perspective. Some weeks, the “Looking Outwards” deliverables may be thematically oriented. There is no restriction on the sources of information you may use for a “Looking Outwards” report. For example, you are invited to use the …library…, particularly to learn about older works which may not be well-documented on the Internet.

A “Looking-Outwards” report is a blog post reporting on a new media project that interests you. Your job is to browse blogs and other sources, and then report on artworks or other projects that you haven’t seen before. (For this course, it may be most appropriate to select projects that are made by individuals or small teams, rather than large companies, but that’s not a strong requirement). Blogging about a project of which you’re already aware defeats the point of the assignment, which is to deepen your familiarity with the fields of new media arts and creative technology.

Try to find things that you aspire to make yourself. If you’re not finding projects that interest you, ask your professor or teaching assistant for advice. You probably just need to find the right search terms.

How to do a Looking Outwards report

Checklist for your blog post:

  • Embed relevant images and/or video documentation of the project, and
  • Write a paragraph (~150 words) about the project that interested you.
  • Add captions just below images and videos. A caption should briefly answer the question “what am I looking at, and why is it here.”
  • Add links to original sources. Embed clickable links (do not just paste in URLs as text).
  • Make sure your blog is labeled with the appropriate WordPress site Category, e.g. “LookingOutwards-05.” (Otherwise, it will not be discovered or graded.)

In your paragraph, you should:

  • Explain the project in a sentence or two (what it is, how it operates, etc.);
  • Explain what inspires you about the project (i.e. what you find interesting or admirable);
  • Critique the project: describe how it might have been more effective; discuss some of the intriguing possibilities that it suggests, or opportunities that it missed; explain what you think the creator(s) got right, and how they got it right.
  • Research the project’s chain of influences. Dig up the ‘deep background’, and compare the project with related work or prior art, if appropriate. What sources inspired the creator this project? What was “their” Looking Outwards?
  • Please be sure to label your blog post with TWO existing WordPress “categories”:
    a Looking Outwards category, e.g. LookingOutwards-01, and
    – a Section category, e.g. SectionA.
  • Title your blog post(s) consistently, with the title YourName-LookingOutwards-01, etc.

Learning Outcomes

After completing the sequence of ten Looking Outwards reports, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate familiarity with historic and/or contemporary new-media projects relevant to that student’s specific research interests;
  • Demonstrate familiarity with new-media projects that exemplify cultural practice with widely-used arts-engineering toolkits and/or with specific technologies.