Course Description:

Technological advancements have us creating new worlds faster than we can keep track of them. This course will introduce students to the process of critically engaging with these new virtual worlds and their implications. Through philosophy, performance and social engagement students will consider the problems and creative possibilities of our real, virtual and online communities.

Module 1: Real Virtuality

Week 1

Session 01: Introduction to Metaphysics. Plato’s Cave. Realism and Idealism.
Session 02: Introduction to Deleuze’s conception of the virtual, the real and the actual. “The virtual is opposed not to the real but to the actual. The virtual is fully real in so far as it is virtual.” (Difference and Repetition, Deleuze, 1968)

Week 2:

Session 03: Reality as a social construction. Drawing from Deleuze’s ‘Assemblage Theory’ we will consider how ideas and systems can be broken down into other ideas and yet maintain their significance as a whole. This will lead us to a discussion about the idea of emergence and scientific reductionism.
Session 04: Field Trip - How might ‘virtual experience’ exist in physical space? Dialogue in the Dark.
Homework: Field trip report

Module 2: Virtual Spaces

Please install Second Life and familiarise yourself with this environment. Do the in-game tutorial before coming to class.

Week 3

Session 05: The evolution and history of online, social spaces.
Session 06: This class will be held in a classroom environment in Second Life, physical attendance is optional, virtual attendance is mandatory. We will discuss Deleuze, Chaos Magic, multiplicity and inventing new worlds.
Homework: Analyse your experience, what are the rules of this space? Who is included and who is excluded in this new social assemblage?

Week 4

Session 07: Digital Identity - Selfies, memes and diverse narratives. How has the internet changed and diversified our ideas about identity and beauty? We will consider the work of instagram activists Monroe Bergdof and Roscoe Ramone and Meme artist @scariest_bug_ever.
Session 08: Performance art, Fluxus, political art.
Homework: Stage and document a performance in virtual space.

Module 3: Virtual Community

Week 5

Session 09: Socially engaged art practice and creative approaches to building communities.
Session 10: Internet as public space. What improvements that could be made? What is the connection between physical, virtual and social spaces? Consider examples of socially engaged digital practice such as Or Zubalsky.
Homework: find an online community who might share some of your interests, introduce yourself and make a contribution.

Week 6

Session 11: Open source philosophy, hacktivists, political movements and collaboration tools.
Session 12: Corporate cyber space, silicon valley and contemporary challenges to the internet as ‘public space’. Net neutrality.
homework: create a ‘public space’ on the internet, what are the rules? who is allowed and who is not?