The aim of this course is to radically contextualize our relationship to culture.
“The fish asks, ‘What is water?’” – David Foster Wallace
Welcome to ARTA 219/419Young Money Cash Money: On the Relevance of Culture. This course will take a purposeful
approach to culture and ideology in an effort to understand the time in which we live and make. The primary objective of
the course, no matter how obtuse, is to cultivate thinking. We are prone to complacency (not knowing is so much easier!).
Agreeing and plodding along are ok, so long as we know we’re doing it. Perhaps with observation and prodding, we can
inspire action in the form of making. In the words of Slavoj Zizek, “Don’t be afraid to really want what you desire.”
The course will consist of lectures, readings, reactions and three projects. The content has an overarching theme but will
resist neat summaries and will not condense into doctrines. The lectures are free associations of ideas with the intention
of drawing you in and implicating your involvement. In other words, I will present a set of problems and hope that they are
interesting enough for you to participate along with me in an exploration. They will be supplemented by readings. So the
assigned reading will resonate with the material in the presentation. You are responsible for reading all of the material. I’m
not going to write this in bold or stress it in class. If you are unwilling or uninterested in reading the assigned material,
please drop the course. It will be easier on both of us and it embarrasses me when you don’t work.
For each reading, you will be responsible for writing two questions and one definitive statement. Something like, “this dude
is off his rocker if he thinks that eating noodles should count as art. It’s not art, it never will be art and the way he ends the
article proves it. Art comes from an artist’s hands! It isn’t made by assistants, or participants or whatever other fancy word
BORINGiaud uses.” You’ll notice in this statement that the writer read the work, formed an opinion and articulated it. It
could perhaps use some articulation development:)
In addition to the reading and the responses, you will be responsible for 3 major projects. The form, medium and process
by which these projects are realized is something we can discuss. In short, they all have to be printmaking. jk.
I understand that total class participation is unlikely due to shyness, public anxiety or just plain weirdness (lets face it,
we’re artists and somewhat weird). But what will the class be without your participation? Just me blabbing away. I don’t
want this you shouldn’t either. You are smarter and more interesting than I am. Please don’t embarrass me by tricking me
into thinking that I am the most interesting person in the room by not talking or saying what you’re thinking. All points are
valid, worth noting and likely productive. As we progress through the semester, we will work hard to draw interesting and
psychologically complex ideas from the most banal sources i.e. commercials, magazine ads, youtube videos, rap lyrics
and comic books. Initially, I will provide the material. Ideally, by the end of the semester, you will not need my mediation.
The spotlight will shift from me to you. You will provide the material and the content. If my plan succeeds, I’ll be able to
begin my summer vacation in a few weeks while you continue to plug away. In the words of Tyler Durden (Edward Norton)
from Fight Club, “I can do this job from home.”
Berger, J. Ways of Seeing. (New York: Penguin, 1977)
Staniszewski, M. Believing is Seeing. (New York: Penguin, 1995)
Bey, H. T.A.Z. (Temporary Autonomous Zone), Anticopyright. To be downloaded or stolen.
McCloud, S. Understanding Comics. The Invisible Art. (New York: Morrow, 1994)
Bourriaud, N. Postproduction (New York: Lukas & Sternberg, 2007)
Debord, G. Society of the Spectacle (New York: Black & Red, 2000)
Introduction, discussion • Assign phone calls
Entrance into Culture • Mirror Stage • Why Lacan •
The Gaze • Who is looking?
Feminism • Gaze and Voice as Objects • Who is talking?
R.S.I (Imaginary, Symbolic and Real) • Hitchcock •
Mullholland Dr.
Processing Culture • Imaginary -> Symbolic • Tiger
Woods • Ideology and Me (you?)
Project 1 • To be discussed
Rejection of Culture • Poetic Terrorism • Pornography •
Advertisement • Diogenes • Hipsters
Rejection of Culture • Student perspective • 4chan
Project 1 review • Assign Project 2
Accepting Culture • Who cares • Graph of Desire •
The Pursuaders • Advertising • Luxury
On Desire
Project 2 review • Assign Final
Spring Break… WORK!!!!
Art and Culture • Relational Aesthetics • Bourriaud •
The horrific Lacanian Real • The Real Cancun
Facebook • 4chan • instagram • memes • viral currency •
The Gazed • The Viewed • Gangham Style • Young Money
Cash Money
Final Review
Ways of Seeing, Berger
Looking Awry, Slavoj Zizek
Believing is Seeing, Staniszewski
Ways of Seeing, Berger
T.A.Z., Hakim Bey
Society of the Spectacle, Debord
Industrial Society and it’s Future,
Kaczynski, Sincerity, Magill
The Simpsons, Hipster episode
Southpark, Britney episode
On the Rights of Molotov Man,
Garnet, Meiselas
Zizek Lecture
Understanding Comics, McCloud
Understanding Comics, McCloud
Postproduction, Bourriaud
1 • Understand and apply Lacan’s three-part concept of the Imaginary, Symbolic and Real as it pertains to visual
creation, communication and interpretation.
2 • Calculate how the many forms of Visual Culture (painting, film, fashion, advertising, animation, internet, etc.)
inform and influence our work within the context of the readings and supplemental material.
3 • Create three rigorous projects based on the concepts of the Imaginary, the Symbolic and the Real or
Acknowledgment of Culture, Processing Culture, Rejecting Culture, Accepting Culture (it should be noted that the
work created does not ultimately have to reference or obey Lacanian theory at all).
4 • Consider, respond and react to the viewer in a variety of formats
Course Objectives
1 • Create a body of artwork for public exhibition
2 • Acquire a critical language for the visual arts
3 • Express her/his artistic ideas in visual, verbal, and written forms
4 • Present themselves professionally through assemblage of artist
portfolios, statements and resumès
If you have a problem, a concern, or would like feedback on any aspect of this course or your work, please schedule a
time to speak with me during my office hours. I’m here to facilitate thinking and learning. Use me!
You should be here to learn. If you’re actively involved in your progress, grades should not be a consideration. If you are
not involved or participating, it will be reflected in your grade, but I will work hard to make sure this doesn’t happen. I
expect the same from you.
A • Exceeds expectations (expectations should be high) B • Meets Expectations (should stand for Boring) C • Does not
meet expectations D • Incomplete work or failure F • Failure
If you miss five classes you will fail the course. Coming to class unprepared will count as an absence. Two late arrivals
equal one absence. Unexcused absences will negatively affect your grade.
Civility is genuine respect and regard for others: politeness, consideration, tact, good manners, graciousness, cordiality,
affability, amiability and courteousness. Civility enhances academic freedom and integrity, and is a prerequisite to the free
exchange of ideas and knowledge in the learning community. Our community consists of students, faculty, staff, alumni,
and campus visitors. Community members affect each other’s well-being and have a shared interest in creating and
sustaining an environment where all community members and their points of view are valued and respected. Affirming the
value of each member of the university community, the campus asks that all its members adhere to the principles of civility
and community adopted by the campus:
“An essential feature of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville is a commitment to maintaining an atmosphere of
intellectual integrity and academic honesty. As a student of the university, I pledge that I will neither knowingly give nor
receive any inappropriate assistance in academic work, thus affirming my own personal commitment to honor and
“Any student who feels he or she may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the
Office of Disability Services (ODS) at 865-974-6087 in 2227 Dunford Hall to document their eligibility for services. ODS will
work with students and faculty to coordinate reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities.”
At UT, it is our collective responsibility to improve the state of teaching and learning. During the semester, you may be
requested to assess aspects of this course either during class or at the completion of the class. You are encouraged to
respond to these various forms of assessment as a means of continuing to improve the quality of the UT learning
ARTA 219/419 • Young Money Cash Money: On the Relevance of Culture • MW 9:05 – 12:05 • RM AA 327 • Spring 2015
• School of Art • University of Tennessee • Assistant Professor, Joshua Bienko • [email protected] 865.974.7373 RM