Picturing Time



Time is the material of artists working in photography, video, and animation. But what happens when we take it as the subject of these forms as well? Is time moving backwards or forwards? Does it take the shape of a loop or an arrow? What does it mean to stop time? How do we feel and measure the duration of an event?

In this course, we will explore these and other issues as we make art using time-based media. We’ll make digitally manipulated images while wrestling with the philosophical question of simultaneity. We’ll consider films and novels about time travel while making animations about future time. We’ll study how psychologists have understood emotion, perception, and time while we make time-lapse photographs. And we’ll consider the history of past and present time while we work with video montage. We will consider time as a social construct, an area of scientific discovery, a tool for structuring narrative, and a medium for recording our lives.

No prior experience with time-based media or digital software necessary.


This course will introduce students to disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives on time and time-based media. In addition, this is a course about knowing, particularly about ways to identify problems, formulate productive questions, and go about answering those questions.

Students in this course will demonstrate the ability to:

  • distinguish among, and formulate, types of questions asked by different disciplines
  • read critically, and gather and interpret evidence
  • distinguish among the evidence and methodologies appropriate to different disciplines
  • consider and address complexities and ambiguities
  • make connections among ideas
  • recognize choices, examine assumptions, and ask questions of themselves and of their own work
  • formulate conclusions based upon evidence
  • communicate ideas both orally and in writing
  • relate the results of the course to their educational goals
  • create time-based art using photography, video, and animation
  • manipulate intervals, duration, shape, order, and simultaneity to change our perception of time
  • critically analyze and contextualize their work and the work of other time-based media artists


Interdisciplinary Perspectives

This course brings together material from three different areas with many different disciplinary perspectives. One strand of the course focuses on the perception of time through science and social science texts. These texts explore the history of temporal ideologies, the science of how our brain understands time, and psychological studies of chronobiology. Another strand focuses on the aesthetic analysis of time-based media and art through art-historical and film/media studies texts and works of art. These texts and films explore how time is used as a medium by artists and filmmakers. Works are analyzed in terms of formal qualities such as duration, interval, and speed. The final strand is the crafting of time-based art. Students will use cameras to capture photographs and video. They will use image-editing, film-editing and motion graphics software to edit and manipulate their films, photographs, and animations.

Critical Thinking

The artwork and texts for this class were chosen to challenge our understanding of time as a linear progressive force. Through the juxtapositions of ideas from different disciplines students will have to grapple with multiple histories and perspectives. Each section of the course is designed to examine time from a different angle: interval, duration, shape, order, simultaneity, imagination. Students will also have to study their relationship to time through six time studies. Students will respond to these new layers through their reading responses, time study responses, artist presentation, and through the challenge of making work in different media.

Communication Skills

In this course there are several written and oral assignments. Students are required to post reading responses to the website before each discussion. Students are also responsible for a 2-4 page paper analyzing a film or artwork. Students will also present a fifteen-minute talk on an artist. There will also be many opportunities to contribute in discussions and critiques. Each written or oral assignment will require students to draw from several different disciplines.


This class has many different levels of support for students. We will have a peer mentor who is familiar with the tools and ideas of time-based media. My lab also has an assistant who is an expert in the technology that we will be using for class. She will hold several lab hours for students who need help. I also try to hold office hours on the night before a project is due so that I can support students who need additional help.

Fourth Hour

The fourth hour will be shared between myself and my peer mentor. The peer mentor will use it to discuss the topics of FYE. We will also use it to coordinate visits to the Tang, trips to other museums, artist talks, and film screenings.


  • Texts in reading packet
  • Subscription to lynda.com (provided through Skidmore)
  • External 16GB hard drive (required)
  • Headphones (required)
  • Journal or blank book
  • Drawing supplies, drawing paper, straight edge, pen or pencil


Your final grade will be compiled from the grades you receive on your assignments throughout the semester and will be posted on Blackboard.

Each grade will be weighted as follows:

Participation: 5%
Reading Responses: 15%
Paper: 10%
Artist Presentation: 10%
Projects 1-6 60%


The ability to speak for yourself and your work is one of the most important skills a digital media artist has. In this class there will be many forums for you to practice speaking, including discussions of texts, presentations, critical conversations about artists' work, and peer critiques. Your participation in these activities will be taken into account in your final grade. If you are distracted in class by your cell phone or work from another class this will also be factored into this grade.

Reading Responses

For this assignment you will be responding to readings, time-based work, and time studies that you do outside class and posting your response on our website. Each response will be due by the beginning of class. Responses should try to situate the readings, studies, and viewings within the creative work we are doing in class. The responses will be evaluated by the depth of the analysis, the quality of the writing, and the unique or creative view of the material you present.


In this class you will write one paper that is 2-4 pages. For the paper you will select a film or artwork that addresses the concept of time and relate it to two of the readings in class. The paper will be evaluated on the originality of your argument, the structure and organization, and the use of the assigned texts.

Artist Presentation
Each student will be responsible for presenting the work of one artist to the class. Your presentation will be fifteen minutes and include information about the background of the artist, close readings of their work, and analysis of the critical and historical context for their work.

In this class there are six projects including the final project. At the beginning of each project we will review the project overview on the website. Please take note of the due dates. Assignments MUST BE READY at the START of class on the date due to be considered on time. If you cannot be in class the day that the projects are due the project must be uploaded to Blackboard or sent to me before class starts to be considered on time. Late projects will be marked down one grade for each day they are late including the date they are due if they are received after the start of class. Projects will be graded on the technical craftsmanship of the project, the use of formal principles, gestures and marks and the depth of the investigation of the questions posed.


In this class I will cover all the technical tools and skills that you will need to complete the projects. If you want to go beyond these skills you can use the resources available to teach yourself (lynda.com, adobe.com). If you use skills that are not covered in class the rule that I use in all my classes is that if you get yourself in, you must get yourself out. This does not mean that I do not encourage these explorations—I think they are where some of the richest and most interesting work can happen.


Attendance in this class is critical. In each class you will learn tools and techniques and discuss ideas that you will build upon in subsequent classes. I keep track of attendance by passing around a sign-in sheet at the beginning of class. If your name is not on the sheet you will be considered absent. I do not distinguish between excused and unexcused absences—instead I consider how the classes and content you have missed will impact your success in the course. Each student is allowed up to three absences. If you have missed more than three classes each additional absence will result in a ten-point deduction from your final grade.

Frequent late arrivals will also have a negative effect on your performance in the course: every three late arrivals will be considered equal to one absence. If you are not in class you must review the material on the website and get notes from a classmate since you are still responsible for the material covered in class as well as any in-class assignments. You can also visit my office during my office hours to get an overview of what I went over in class.


In order to complete the assignments for this class, you must be prepared to work independently during the hours that the lab is open. The Digital Media Lab is reserved for students enrolled in Digital Media classes. The lab will be open 24 hours a day and on weekends during the semester through swipe access. You may not use the lab when other classes are in session without prior permission. It is important to familiarize yourself with the lab schedule that is posted on the door to the lab and on the website.


I created a website to accommodate the changing needs of this class. All of the lectures, projects, and demonstrations that are discussed in class will be on this website. If class is canceled or you are absent you can check the website to see what you need to do for the next class. This is also an excellent resource to review skills and concepts.


If you are a student with a disability and believe you will need academic accommodation, you must formally request accommodation from Meg Hegener, Coordinator for Student Access Services.  You will also need to provide documentation which verifies the existence of a disability and supports your request.  For further information, please call 580-8150 or stop by the office of Student Academic Services in Starbuck Center.


I want each of you to be successful in this class. I want you to make work that that inspires you and your peers. I want you to push me and the other students to find new ways of approaching the materials and the tools we are using. I want you to emerge an innovative and creative time-based media artist. I am here to support you in these goals. If you have any questions, small or large, technical or conceptual, please come see me. I have office hours that are posted on this website but I can also make an appointment to meet with you at another time that is more convenient. We also have a Teaching Assistant and a mentor who can help you with technical issues that arise when I am not at school. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you are having trouble or need help.



Review Syllabus
Assign Presentations

Library Session with Yvette Cortes
4th Hour: Q & A with Colleen


Perceiving Intervals [Photography]
Project 1: Stranger (Overview)
Reading: Coates, Between the World and Me
Demonstration: Introduction to the Camera and Shutter speed
Sign up for individual meetings

Reading: Eagleman, "Brain Time"
Reading: Solnit, excerpts from The Annihilation of Time and Space
Time Study: Interval Training with Gymboss
Reading Response #1 due
4th Hour: Tang Museum – Eadweard Muybridge, Harold Edgerton, Takihiro Sato


Perceiving Intervals [Photography]
Reading: Cartier-Bresson, The Decisive Moment
Reading: de Duve, "Time Exposure and Snapshot: The Photograph as Paradox"
Reading: Wollen, Fire and Ice (excerpts)
Reading Response #2 due
Film: Vertov, Man With a Movie Camera
Demonstration: Editing and Printing

Project 1: Stranger Critique
4th Hour: Pizza


Durational Aesthetics [Video]
Project 2: Territory (Overview)
Reading: Sacks, "Speed"
Reading: Wells, "The New Accelerator"
Reading: Abramovic, "When Time Becomes Form"
Time Study: Abramovic Exercises
Reading Response #3 due

Demonstration: Introduction to the GoPro
4th Hour: Fun with the GoPro


Durational Aesthetics [Video]
Reading: Siffre, Beyond Time (excerpts)
Reading: Foer and Siffre, "Caveman: An Interview with Michel Siffre"
Reading: Scarce, "Doing Time as an Act of Survival" (excerpts)
Film: Sokurov, Russian Ark
Reading Response #4 due
Demonstration: Editing and Exporting

Project 2: Territory Critique
4th Hour: Fall Walk


Past, Present, and Now [Non-linear Video]
Project 3: Happening (Overview)
Reading: Kuleshov, Kuleshov on Film: Writings (excerpts)
Reading: Prince, Hensley, "The Kuleshov Effect: Recreating the Classic Experiment"
Time Study: Day Without Time
Demonstration: Introduction to Non-linear Editing

No class


Past, Present, and Now [Non-linear Video]
Reading: Bordwell and Thompson, "Time" (excerpts)
Reading: Lakoff and Johnson, "Challenges to Metaphorical Coherence"
Reading: Borges, "The Garden of Forking Paths"
Film: Linklater, Boyhood
Reading Response #6 due
4th Hour: Presentation Basics

Presentations: Gillian Wearing (Maya Holland), Bill Viola (Maria Carrera Gutierrez), Richard Linklater (M Brohawn)
4th Hour: Advising

Field Trip to MassMoca (10/22)


The Shape of Time [Animation]
Project 3: Artifact (Overview) 
Reading: Kubler, The Shape of Time (excerpts)
Reading: Gould, Time’s Arrow, Time’s Cycle: Myth and Metaphor in the Discovery of Geological Time (excerpts)
Reading: Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People (excerpts) 
Time Study: 1 Second Everyday App
Reading Response #7 due
Demonstration: Introduction to Keyframes

Artist Presentations: Tacita Dean (Ethan Baskes), Hans Richter (Sam Jesner), William Kentridge (Emery Spina)
4th Hour: Pumpkins and Election


The Shape of Time [Animation]
Reading: Rosenberg, "A Timeline of Timelines"
Reading: Latour, We Have Never Been Modern (excerpts)
Reading: Serres and Latour, Conversations on Science, Culture, and Time (excerpts)
Film: Marker, La Jetée
Reading Response #8 due
Work in class

Project 3: Happening Critique (due Tuesday at 8am on Vimeo)
4th Hour: Substance Abuse (Colleen)
Sign up for advising


Simultaneous Time [Manipulated Photography]

4th hour: Advising
Project 5: Stage (Overview)
Demonstration: Masks and Cloning

Artist Presentations: Daniel Crooks (KT or Cambel), Martha Rosler (Marianna Santostefano), Jason Salavon (Hillary Goldstein), Douglas Heubler (Katelyn Reicheld), Anthony Giocolea (Alex McDonald)
Demonstration: Adjustment Layers
Reading: Calvino, t-zero
Reading: Braun, Picturing Time: The Work of Étienne-Jules Marey (excerpts)
Time Study: Simultaneous Self Portrait
Reading Response #9 due


Simultaneous Time [Manipulated Photography]
Reading: Lightman, Einstein’s Dreams (excerpts)
Reading: Gardner, "Serial/Simultaneous"
Reading Response #10 due
Film: Zemeckis, Back to the Future
Work in class


4th Hour: Self Care (Colleen)
Thanksgiving Break


 Imagined Time [Animation, Photography, and Video]
Project 4: Stage Critique
Project 5: Ritual
Reading: Zimbardo, The Time Paradox (excerpts), (Take the Time Perspective Inventory)
Reading: Franco Berardi, After The Future (excerpts)
Reading Response #11 due
Discussion: 10,000-year Clock, Future Library
Time Study: Letter to Your Future Self
Artist Presentations: Christopher Nolan (Greg Litt), Marina Abramovic (Katie Gorson)
Paper Proposal Due


Imagined Time [Animation, Photography, and Video]
Reading: Elias, "Past/Future"
Reading: "The Playboy Panel: 1984 and Beyond"
Film: Ramis, Groundhog Day
Reading Response #12 due
4th Hour: Writing Center

Work in class
Artist Presentations: Maria, Kevin, Emma


Rough Draft Due/Peer Critique
Work in class

Project 6: Ritual Critique
4th Hour: Party


Final Paper Due