As the creative use of digital tools continues to become more important to artists, new pedagogies are needed to help expose students to the potentials of digital technology. Currently, much education is concerned with “virtual” versions of and extensions to previous technologically-based tools and usually focuses attention on these tools in relation to input to and output from the computer in the form of images, video, sound and other media. The author argues for an alternative pedagogy which instead concentrates on the nature of the internal digital representation of the physical world rather than on either the tools being used or the nature of the output the computer creates. This focus on the various ways the computer might internally represent reality, be it digitized images, sound, Cartesian space, or time, allows students to better understand the implicationsof the computer in terms of the potential manipulations which might be performed on these internal representations, and to discover for themselves the close relationships between the digital versions of what are often considered completely separate mediums in the physical world. Likewise, digital representations of “thought processes,” beginning with simple Boolean logic and moving to much more complex representations of human rationality and “thought,” as well as simple indeterministic and stochastic representations of “nature” are areas which provide students with an entirely new insight into the potential of computers to simulate and to initiate actions. Most importantly though, this approach helps students develop their own “mental” picture of the processes going on within the computer, helping them to transcend any one software program or hardware device, and giving them an intrinsic understanding of how the computer may be used as a tool for manipulating things in the physical world.
- Shawn Decker, USA. Professor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago: Art and Technology and Sound departments.