The Synthesis module requires students to produce a ‘synthesis’ – broadly defined as the process of combining objects or ideas into a complex whole; the combination or whole produced by such a process (hence ‘synthesise’); a process of producing a compound by a chemical reaction or series of reactions (hence ‘synthetic’). It is also used in Philosophy to describe the unification of a concept with another not contained in it; and most famously, the final stage in the Hegelian dialectic to resolve the contradiction between thesis and antithesis (where ‘thesis’ refers to the placing or setting, proposition, theme of dissertation). You are asked to resolve this contradiction (temporarily, for the sake of presentation) through a presentation of research materials.

It is expected that the work for this module will form part of the research and development stage for future work – and most importantly towards the masters ‘Project’ module.


Students are expected to develop an informed sense of their own practice in this module, and prepare research and development materials towards an ambitious final masters ‘project’. In support of this, inputs will investigate a variety ways of ‘knowing’ – from activities of ‘making’ to more conventional academic (qualitative and quantitative) distinctions between the fields of art and science. The aim is to present an interdisciplinary field of inquiry and practice appropriate to digital media, and it is expected that students will begin to formulate ideas towards future work (applying and challenging the traditional distinctions between arts and sciences towards a hybrid practice).

For those taking the ‘Project’ module, it is expected that the work for this module will form part of the research and development stage for this larger work. It will contribute early thinking towards written work (bibliography, etc) and background thinking towards the practical aspects. This will be informed by a ‘literature search’ in the first term where students are expected to compile relevant resources into a collage of found materials (to be handed in at the end of the first term).

The module will proceed through the sharing of resources and case studies leading to individual student project work and online tutorials. Students are expected to take an active part in dialogue as part of the course and offer ideas in the spirit of open debate as well as offer feedback and constructive criticism to others. Students are expected to join one or two mail lists to keep abreast of current issues and debates. For instance, it is expected that issues around immateriality, the knowledge economy, intellectual property and open systems will be key considerations. The idea is that students are able to place their practice in a broader cultural context through the tasks undertaken in this module.

A series of seminar presentations will take place in support of this work addressing ideas related broadly to immateriality and research. The first of these will take place in the introductory session, with the following delivered at advertised times.


A general introduction to the trend for art-science collaborations and research agendas.
Stephen Wilson (2002) ‘Introduction, Methodology, Definitions and Theoretical Overview’, in _Information Arts: Intersections of Art, Science and Technology_, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, pp. 1-48,


Under contemporary conditions, knowledge is treated like any other manufactured goods; ‘immaterial products’ are turned into ‘material products'; artists are interested in research not only as method but also as subject-matter, using irony and pseudo-research methods to make critical comment.
The Institute for Applied Autonomy (2005) ‘Engaging Ambivalence: Interventions in Engineering Culture’, in Geoff Cox & Joasia Krysa, eds. _Engineering Culture_, New York: Autonomedia, pp. 95-105, (


The relations of production have been extended to include the work of people and machines; both the programer and program can be seen to work, and the possibility of a machinic praxis arises from this. Could we speculate on machinic research?
Gilles Deleuze & Félix Guattari (1990 [1972]) ‘The Desiring Machines’, in _Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia_, trans. Robert Hurley et al, London: Athlone, pp. 1-50.


Immaterial labour refers to the way in which labour has become more immaterial, collective and communicative, more creative and cognitive; general intellect refers to technological expertise, organisation and virtuosity.
Maurizio Lazzarato (2004) ‘General Intellect: Towards an Inquiry into Immaterial Labour’, trans. Ed Emery, [first published in _Common Sense_]


The contradictions of free software and open systems; the link between free labour and the ‘gift economy'; the public sphere and the commons. How do these concerns affect research?
Trebor Scholz (2006) ‘The Participatory Challenge’, in Joasia Krysa, ed. _Curating Immateriality_, New York: Autonomedia, pp. 189-207,

Roy Ascott (2003 [1964]) ‘The Construction of Change’, Cambridge Opinion 41, 37-42, in Noah Wardrip-Fruin & Nick Montfort, eds. _The New Media Reader_, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, pp. 128-132 (
Tim Berners-Lee et al (2003 [1994]) ‘The World Wide Web’, in Noah Wardrip-Fruin & Nick Montfort, eds. _The New Media Reader_, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, pp. 792-798 (
Manuel Castells (1996) _The Rise of the Network Society_, (Volume 1 of _The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture_), Oxford: Blackwell.
Nick Dyer-Witheford (1999) _Cyber-Marx: Cycles and Circuits of Struggle in High-Technology Capitalism_, Urbana & Chicago: University of Illinois Press.
Nick Dyer-Witheford (2005) ‘Cognitive Capitalism and the Contested Campus’, in Geoff Cox & Joasia Krysa, eds. _Engineering Culture_, New York: Autonomedia, pp. 71-93.
Maurizio Lazzarato (1996) ‘Immaterial Labour’, trans. Paul Colilli & Ed Emery, in Paolo Virno & Michael Hardt, eds. _Radical Thought in Italy_, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 132-146.
Lawrence Lessig (2004) _Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity_,
Lawrence Liang (2004) _Guide to Open Content licenses_, Rotterdam: Piet Zwart Institute,
Marcel Mauss (1970) _The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies_, trans. Ian Cunnison, London: Cohen & West.
Armin Medosch (2004) ‘Society in Ad-Hoc Mode: Decentralised, Self-Organising, Mobile’, in Geoff Cox & Joasia Krysa, eds. _Economising Culture_, New York: Autonomedia, pp. 135-160.
Richard M. Stallman (2002) _Free Software, Free Society: Selected Essays of Richard M. Stallman_, Joshua Gay, ed. Free Software Foundation,
Tiziana Terranova (2004 [2000]) ‘Free Labour’, in _Network Culture: Politics for the Information Age_, London: Pluto Press. pp. 73-97 (
Norbert Wiener (2003 [1954]) ‘Men, Machines, and the World About’, in Noah Wardrip-Fruin & Nick Montfort, eds. _The New Media Reader_, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, pp. 67-72 ( EDIT


You are expected to develop an informed sense of your own practice in this module. You should familiarise yourself with the field in which you think you are operating in, and be able to answer to position your practice accordingly.

These are the required tasks for this module:

1. Literature Search

Students are required to do a literature search of their chosen subject area and present this in an appropriate form – imagined to be either a PDF, Wiki or Blog – including images and key texts that inform the research (30% of the mark).

The deadline for this is Friday 19/12/2008 at midnight, when it should be available online.

2. Seminar

Students will make a 20 minute seminar presentation – using audio-visual materials (40% of the mark). Notes and supporting materials should be available online with references including bibliography and web links.

3. Project proposal

The above should form the basis of a proposal for the final Project module (approx. 1500 words) that makes a clear case for an arts, science or research approach that refers to the choice of MA, MSc or MRes awards (this makes up 30% of the mark). (If you are doing the MRes route, this is a chance to retrospectively rework your proposal.)

The proposal should include the following:
� Title of project
� Name of student and any collaborators
� Short statement on your current practice
� Description of proposed project
� Technical description and production process
� Brief description of conceptual motivation
� Possible location for the project
� Briefly argue choice of MA or MSc award for this work
� Timeline for realisation of project
� Budget
� Additional supporting information
� Proposed thesis title
� Proportion of written/practical element
� Initial bibliography for thesis
� Short description/abstract of thesis
� What is the research question you pose?

The deadline for this is 15/05/09 at midnight. The seminar presentations will take place in the meeting session after this deadline.

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