Eye + Mind

Art, Science, and Perception
CHID 444 SPRING 2012

Class meets: Monday and Wednesday, 1:30-3:30

Room: Denny 306     

Instructor: Phillip Thurtle, thurtle@u.washington.edu

Office: Padelford B-102

Email: thurtle@uw.edu

Office Hours: 11:00-12:00 Mondays and 12:00-1:30 on Thursday

Class description

This class investigates life as an emergent phenomenon across the disciplines of biophilosophy, art, art history, literary criticism, and information studies.  Students will read key texts from these disciplines, evaluate recent art commenting on bioinformatics, and design their own creative projects. Throughout the quarter we will ask questions such as: What do art and science have in common? What is an emergent phenomenon? What is special about living things? Students should expect to leave this class with knowledge of key issues in phenomenological philosophy, bioart, biophilosophy, and complexity studies. 

The readings for this class are difficult in the complexity of their arguments and diversity of approaches. Students are expected to finish all readings before the class and come prepared to discuss the material. Students are not expected to have understood each word of all the material. I hope this class introduces you to interesting new ideas and prods you into thinking in new and creative directions on life, art, and knowledge.

Students will be graded on participation in sections, a reading journal, a project proposal, and a final project. Students are encouraged but not required to work together on final projects. I heavily favor a student’s improvement over time when compiling grades.

WARNING: This class is not for everyone. Although there are no pre-requisites for the class, students will be expected to engage with difficult readings and will need to be willing to be confused at times.  


Reading Journal 30%

Project Proposal 5%

Participation 25%

Final Project (including in-class presentations) 40%


Reading Journals:

Students will keep a reading journal where they will write on the assigned readings for class. Students are required to make a journal entry for one reading on each of the class days. Successful journal entries will have at least three paragraphs: one paragraph to summarize the key points of the readings; one paragraph to develop an argument about the most compelling point(s) from the reading; and one paragraph to think about the implications of these arguments in respect to the themes of the class or student projects. I will review, grade, and comment on student journals at least three times during the quarter.

Project Proposals:

Students are required to complete a two-paragraph project proposal by

Wednesday, May 2nd at the beginning of class. These proposals should outline in clear language the student's ideas for her term project, state how this project fulfills the themes of the class, and give three references (if a paper) or a clear outline of the process of creation (if an intermedia project). I will give comments and suggestions on the proposal. Please note: students can change projects in consultation with the instructor after the proposal is completed.

Class Participation:

Students are expected to come to discussion having read the materials and prepared to discuss them. Also, much of the material discussed in class may be difficult to understand. Don’t be discouraged! I promise, you will have a much better grasp of the material if you attend discussion. 

Term Projects:

This is one of the most exciting aspects of this class. Students will craft and present a creative project reflecting the themes of the class. These projects can be in any medium and will be developed through consultation with myself. Artwork, performance, scholarly research, WWW work, music, film and video work are all encouraged. Please note: all creative projects must be accompanied by a two page “Artist Statement” that discusses how the project fits into the themes of the class, the academic resources used to create the projects, and why this project is important to the student. Students are also expected to present their projects to their peers during the last sessions of class and finals period. Guidelines for these projects will be handed out early in the quarter. All projects are due on or before the final, Monday, June 4th.

Required texts

The following three books are available from University Books

John Holland, Emergence: From Chaos to Order

Alphonso Lingis, The Imperative

China Miéville, Embassytown

Readings not from these books are available online


Imperative pages online
May 10, 2012 3:30 PM
"Transductions"​ now online
Apr 30, 2012 6:13 PM
on the "Files" page.
Notebooks Due 30th of April
Apr 16, 2012 9:52 AM
Have your readings covered by then! Remember, the requirement is for at least 1 reading each sess...
Pages 24 and 25 of the Accursed Share
Apr 15, 2012 5:03 PM
now on the "Files" page as a separate file.
New schedule
Apr 4, 2012 9:56 AM
Hello all, I've scheduled our missing week with readings in media theory. I've also re-arranged t...
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Mar 27, 2012 6:29 PM
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