March 30, 2016, BY Paula Cogan Myers

What class? University 200: Denting the Universe: Creativity and Critique

Who teaches it? Professor Alan Cheville, electrical engineering, and Rick Rinehart, director of the Samek Art Museum 

"Denting the Universe is an interdisciplinary course in art and engineering. It offers an in-depth comparison of the methods, theories and practices of both disciplines. We emphasize how artists and engineers are creative and how they incorporate critique into their practices.

"The course explores different ways of knowing and doing by asking a set of questions core to both disciplines. We ask about quality, epistemology and critique in relation to the people, practices, objects and spaces of art and engineering. As the faculty steeped in the traditions of the two disciplines address these questions, the dialogue reveals both similar and disparate approaches and perspectives.

"Very few of our students are art or engineering majors — it's a terrific interdisciplinary blend. We hope that students leave the course with an appreciation for how artists and engineers work and how their creative modes may be applied within any major and in many aspects of life. Artists and engineers are more alike than you might think. They both work in ways that are materially manifest and often blur the lines between ideas and objects, and between action and theory.

"Students don't take tests or write papers for this course. Instead, they work in teams to produce digital critiques of famous engineering/art projects. Each team is assigned a created object that is meant to change the world or 'dent the universe' in some way. Since we think of the assigned object as the hammer wielded to create the dents, we call them Mjölnirs, after the hammer of the Norse god, Thor.

"Mjölnirs include Ten Thousand Cents, a digital artwork that examines ideas around digital labor markets and virtual economies, and artist Do Ho Suh's sculpture Fallen Star, a home that sits atop the seventh floor of the engineering building at the University of California, San Diego, and explores themes of home, cultural displacement and perception of space. Teams create collaborative video critiques that they present to campus in public screenings at the end of the semester."

See what else Bucknell offers in Electrical & Computer Engineering,  Art & Art History and through the Samek Art Museum.

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