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Over the course of the semester, you will complete four projects – three solo (albeit with audience feedback) and one collaborative. We’ll cover each in more detail as we get to that point in the semester, but here are the broad strokes:

Soundscape Narrative

For the first project, you will arrange layers of sound to project a sense of place, and of things happening in that place. A few generative constraints (as determined together on Thursday, 2020-01-23):

For a minimum grade of B, all projects for this unit must…

  • Play for 2-4 minutes
  • Contain at least one sound originally recorded by you
  • Contain at least one sound not recorded by you, but which you have permission (e.g. CC license, fair use, etc) to use
  • Have three layers (tracks) of sound overlapping at least once in the file
  • Have something change from the beginning to the end of the piece
  • Meet deadlines and requirements from the assignment README (see: citation, reflection, project title)
  • Export a playable (“rendered”) .mp3 file

The genre of the narrative you convey is open: it could be documentary, fictional, even science-fictional. (The title you choose will help steer listeners’ expectations, and thus their perceptions.)

(h/t to Kelsey Cameron for this assignment.)

Visual Argument

The second project asks you to make a claim through the juxtaposition of images and text. As with the sound project, the context for your argument is open: you could be making a social commentary, calling for action, constructing a parody, riffing on a pun, explaining a concept, inviting someone inside, and so on. Whatever you choose, you should consider your audience and what they would find persuasive or interesting, and how you therefore wish to attract and direct their attention.

We’ll talk more about possible constraints in class.

Website Portfolio

For your third project, you will build a responsive website using basic html and css files (as opposed to a site manager like WordPress or Wix), along with any media assets you wish to embed. One relatively straightforward option for this unit is to stage and present the materials you produced earlier in the term; depending on your needs and interests, however, you can also develop this into a more sustainable and public-facing platform from which to manage your online identities.

Group Project (Interactive Narrative)

COVID-19 Update: Rather than doing a group project online in the height of a pandemic, I'm updating this assignment to emphasize revision and consolidation without necessarily introducing new technical challenges (though you're always welcome to aspire). See the first lesson of the last unit for more information.

Throughout the semester, I will periodically ask you to develop proposals for a collaborative final project that will allow you to integrate – and extend – what you’ve learned about composing digital media. In the last month of the semester, you’ll break into groups according to your interests, and work to bring these visions to fruition as best you can in the time available. (Almost everything can be revised, including the projects above; but in collaborative work, issues of scope become especially important to consider.)

The default medium for this integrative project is an interactive narrative, which is to say a kind of readerly choose-your-own-adventure game. The open-source Twine platform, as its website says, allows you to author such games without needing any code, if you want… but also to bring in variables, conditional logic, images, CSS, and JavaScript if that’s the kind of thing you’re into. (Another advantage of working in teams: maybe only one of you wants to dig that deep, but you can still all benefit.)

As the semester goes on, we’ll add detail to these assignments and link out to examples. Baseline and aspirational criteria for each project will be developed collaboratively in class.