Thursday 10:10AM-2:15PM, Room 1P-231, Fall 2017

Professor Michael Mandiberg

Office Hours: Thursday 2:30-4:30PM (Priority given to those who schedule an appointment via email, or in person during class)
Office: Room 224F, ph 982-2555

Additional Office Hours by appointment on Monday & Wednesday afternoons at the CUNY Graduate Center in Midtown Manhattan (34th & 5th). Email Julie Fuller at jfuller1[A-T]gradcenter[d0t]cuny[d0t]edu if you would like to schedule time.

Course website:
Commons Group:


Course Description:

From the Handbook

An advanced creative, practical, and theoretical study of digital imaging as it is used in visual communication. Students will enhance their understanding of design and visual practice through thematic digital imaging assignments. Technical topics include advanced features of hardware and software and digital camera use. Theoretical concerns focus on the evolution of digital imagery, digital photography, and representation.


This course will be focused around several interrelated themes. The first two assignments are focused on attribution, appropriation and collections of images. The middle assignments are all about impossibilities, fakes and simulations. The assignment is dedicated to portraiture.

We will use the CUNY Academic Commons extensively to carry on discussions outside of class. While the focus of the course is the production of directed creative work, there are theoretical and historical readings that will help ground your creative work in a context.

Goals and Requirements:

Learning Goals

  • Students will develop advanced digital imaging and compositing skills.
  • Students will gain intermediate to advanced level aesthetic and compositional skills for digital imaging.
  • All student projects will be suitable for inclusion in a student portfolio.

Course Requirements:

  • Complete projects on time
  • Participate in class discussions, and class critique
  • Come to class prepared: do all reading before hand
  • Maintain an email account, and browse the web
  • Attend field trips

Course Prerequisite:

COM 250 and 251.

Materials and Texts

Review Text: For review of concepts and skills covered in COM 251, please use the textbook you used in that course (e.g. Adobe Photoshop Classroom in a Book). You may also use the Digital Foundations book or wiki.
Supplemental Text: Martin Evening, Adobe Photoshop CC for Photographers: 2016 Edition ― Version 2015.5, Focal Press, ISBN 978-1138690240, retail $59.95. You may also use an older 2015, or probably even a CS 6 version.
Materials and Supplies: USB thumb drive (provided)
If you are planning on using a laptop, get it connected to the Wireless network.


I seek to provide a comfortable and respectful learning environment for people with disabilities. Please contact me and the Center for Student Accessibility in 1P-101; (718) 982.2510, as soon as you can to ensure suitable arrangements and a comfortable working environment. The first day of class is ideal, but the please do so within the first two weeks.

Lab Policy:

  • Turn your phone off. Each and every use of phone or non-class related electronic communication during class will result in a 1 point grade reduction.
  • No food allowed in class or lab at any time. You can have water in closed containers that you keep on the floor or in your bag.
  • No private software is to be brought to lab or loaded onto school computers.
  • No games are allowed in lab.
  • You may only listen to music during work periods if you use headphones.
  • Do not even think about listening to music during lecture/critique, you will be asked to leave the class (seriously, this has happend before!).

Please be aware that technological failures such as printer errors, erased drives, email issues, computer crashes, network failure, viruses, etc. are not emergencies, they are facts of life. You must structure your workflow in anticipation of such scenarios. Backup, backup, backup! You have been warned. ;-)

Email Policy

Please consult the syllabus and/or the related assignment before posing questions that may already be addressed there (i.e. due dates, scope, deliverable, etc). I will not reply to email inquiries regarding course matters (assignment requirements, due dates, exam structure, readings, etc.) that arise from missing class (e.g. "I couldn't make it to class today, can you tell me what we covered?") or inattention to the course syllabus. I will respond to inquiries requesting clarification , though I would strongly prefer these inquiries to be made on the group site, in class or during office hours.

If your question will take more than two minutes or two sentences to answer, it's not a question, it's a discussion topic. Please bring the topic up in class, or I would be happy to discuss it with you during my office hours.

Emails will not be answered immediately or in the depth that they would in-person. Consequently, they are not the most productive way to communicate with me for matters that require more than a sentence or two to resolve.

Read this post on Design Educator for more on writing a good email

Grading Criteria:

We will be covering a great deal of information at a fast pace, so attendance is a strong determinant of your grade: without attending you will not have the knowledge necessary to successfully complete your assignments, as you will have missed thematic and technical lectures, as well as the presentation of class assignments. Furthermore, College of Staten Island Attendance Policy states that after more than 8 hours of absence (15 percent of the course meeting time) you will be assigned a WU (withdrew unofficially).

Repeated tardiness will be cause for grade reduction: first tardiness is excused, all others result in a 1 point deduction. Perfect attendance will be rewarded with 3 extra credit points. If you know that you will be absent on a date that a project is due, you may submit your work before the deadline or arrange to have another student submit work for you.

Projects are due on the assigned date, at the beginning of class. NO EXCEPTIONS. Each day it is late your grade will be reduced one incremental letter grade. Assignments will not be accepted after one week from the date due without prior approval from the professor.

Every assignment you turn in can be revised based off of the feedback provided during critique. If you choose to revise any of your projects, you must do so by the date indicated in the syllabus. Finished projects turned in on time will be assigned the grade for the revised project; projects that were incomplete at the original due date will be assigned an average of the two grades.


Online & Offline Participation 10 points
Flickr to Wikipedia 5 points
Out of place 10 points
Impossible Spaces 10 points
Still Lifes 10 points
Frankensteins 10 points
Perfection 10 points
Accumulated History Paintings 15 points
Final project 20 points

Academic Integrity, Plagiarism, and Cheating

Integrity is fundamental to the academic enterprise. It is violated by such acts as borrowing or purchasing assignments (including but not limited to term papers, essays, and reports) and other written assignments, using concealed notes or crib sheets during examinations, copying the work of others and submitting it as one’s own, and misappropriating the knowledge of others. The sources from which one derives one’s ideas, statements, terms, and data, including Internet sources, must be fully and specifically acknowledged in the appropriate form; failure to do so, intentionally or unintentionally, constitutes plagiarism.

Violations of academic integrity will result in failure for an assignment or failure in a course and in disciplinary actions with penalties such as suspension or dismissal from the College. More information on the CUNY policies on Academic Integrity can be found here.

Project Summaries


Assignment 1: Flickr to Wikipedia (5 points):

You will find an appropriately Creative Commons licensed image on Flickr and import it into Wikimedia Commons, and place it onto at least one Wikipedia Page for which it could help illustrate.

Assignment 2: Out of Place (10 points)

Put a figure into a scene from a different time or place.

Assignment 3: Impossible Spaces (10 points)

Using photomerge with an understanding of architectural perspective correction, we will photograph and composite one large expansive image of many photographs of one large space.

Assignment 4: Still Lifes (10 points)

Create a nature mort for or about someone

Assignment 5: Frankensteins (10 points)

Make one body from many parts.

Assignment 6: Perfection (10 points)

Retouch a family photo into magazine-cover-ready perfection. In particular, choose an image whose roughness defines its contextual/historical place, and remove that roughness via retouching and recoloring.

Assignment 7: Accumulated History Paintings (15 points)

Keeping in mind the history of collage, constructivism, collage, and political protest, you will create a large (16 x 20 inch) collage. This college will achieve its effect via the accumulation of many many parts which you will composite together. We will print this at full size on the large format printer.

Final Project: Symbolic Portraits (20 points)

You will create a prtrait of someone that combines all of the technical skills and thematic strategies we have learned.

Extra Credit

I will be announcing events/exhibitions/performances/etc in Manhattan throughout the semester. I will award 2 points extra credit for attendance at these events.  You will prove to me that you went by turning in your ticket stub or collecting a press release AND writing a one paragraph review of the event/show. I will give up to 8 points extra credit for this. Also included in this category is attendance at any one of the following museums: MOMA (you get in free), MOMA film (you get in free with your CUNY ID), PS1, The New Museum, The Metropolitan Museum, The Whitney, The Guggenheim, The Cooper Hewitt, The Museum of Arts and Design, or any other major art museum. For those in two of my classes, please note that an individual event/museum can only be 'applied' to your grade in one of these two classes.

Course Outline (Subject to Revision)


Week 1. August 31

Thematic introduction to the course: Fakes, Simulations, Forgeries and Impossibilities

Non-graded class assessment/placement exam, and pre-evaluation. Use this file.

Technical Review Part 1: Resolution, file size, resizing, non destructive editing

Discussion and assignment of first project: Flickr to Wikipedia; Images online: searching and sampling

Homework: Project 1, Flickr to Wikipedia

Reading: Digital Foundations Chapter 2, Searching and Sampling

Review Reading: Digital Foundations or Photoshop CIB on resolution, masks, adjustment layers, Bridge, cropping, file formats and save for web


Week 2. September 7

Due: Project 1

In class: Photo Demo, with 3 point lighting, and head shots.

Technical Review Part 2: Bridge, file formats, save for web, cropping, masking, using a digital camera

Tech Demo: Camera Raw. Demo here or here. Masking.

Homework: Project 2

Reading: Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction or as a PDF here

Watching: Photomerge for a panorama with content aware, Photomerge with lens correction (first 6 minutes, as it gets a little geeky after minute six), Clone tool,

Optional Reading: Photoshop for Photographers Chapter 7, Image Retouching (Cloning, and Patch Tool), (Vanishing Point); Chapter 8 (Photomerge), Lens Correction

Week 3. September 14

Due: Project 2

Critique: Project 2

Lecture: Principles of photography and image composition

Tech Demo: Photomerge. Perspective correction, Free transformation


Reading: Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction or as a PDF here

Homework: Project 3, Impossible Spaces
Watching: Shadows


Week 4. September 19 (TUESDAY!!)

Due: Project 3, Impossible Spaces

Critique: Project 3

Discussion: Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction or as a PDF here

Lecture: still lifes and iconography

Demo: Creating realistic shadows


Homework: Project 4, Still Lifes

Reading: Lauren Collins, Pixel Perfect: Pascal Dangin’s virtual reality, New Yorker.


NO CLASS September 21

Week 5. September 28

Due: Project 4, Still Lifes

Discussion: images, bodies, and body image.

Reading: Demos on Select > Color Range. The conventional one. The one from "You Suck At Photoshop" (more on that here). Hair Selections

Reading: For more on quick masks, please see chapter 10 of Digital Foundations. and Chapter 11 of Digital Foundations.

Tech Demo: Retouching I: Hiding blemishes. We will use your headshots from our photoshoot.


Homework: begin work on Project 5, Frankensteins

Reading: Demos on Skin Selection and Masking, Glamour Skin Glow, Glamour Portraits

Week 6. October 5

Due: Project 5, Frankensteins, and revisions to projects 1-3

Tech Demo: Retouching II: Stylization and contouring

Homework: Finish Project 5

Reading: TBD


Week 7. October 12

Due: Project 6, Perfection

Tech Demo: Compositing workshop, Blend Modes, Sitting things down with shadows, color adjustments for compositing

FIELD TRIP: 1:00 field trip to visit Penelope Umbrico's mural at PS/IS 71, at 1050 Targee St

Homework: Begin work on Project 7, Accumulation

Reading: Susan Sontag, In Plato's Cave (from On Photography) -- note, link takes you to Blackboard site

Reading: reading on History of Dada collage TBD

Week 8. October 19

Tech Demo: Camera RAW redux

Due: Project 7 Creative Brief

Discussion, Sontag

Homework: start Project 7, History paintings

Reading: liquify for plastic surgery, Liquify Freeze Mask

Week 9. October 26

Due: Project 7, rough drafts

Tech Demo: Printing Large, color profiles

Homework: Finish Project 7

Reading: “Puppet Masters” a Dialogue between Kenneth Tinkin Hung and Cliff Evans

Week 10. November 2

Due: Project 7 History paintings

Critique: Project 7 History paintings

Discussion: Sontag and Puppet Masters

Assigned: Final project

Homework: revisions to Projects 4-6.

Lecture: Final Project Assigned

Reading: TBD

Homework: work on Final Project

Week 11. November 9

Due: Creative Brief for final project

Due: Project 7 Accumulation revisions, any further revisions to projects 4-6

Critique: discussion of briefs


Homework: work on Final Project

Week 12. November 16: We will not meet at CSI

FIELD TRIP to Lower East Side gallery.

I will be walking you through my exhibition that opens that evening. I will lead two visits, one during our scheduled class time, November 16, 11AM - 1PM, and a second that weekend TBD. I include two options, I know that many of you have fixed schedules, and cannot meet outside of classtime.


NO CLASS, November 23th (Thanksgiving)


Week 13. November 30

Due: two versions of roughs for final

Desk Critique: roughs

Homework: finished draft of Final Project

Week 14. December 7

Due: finished version of final

Desk/Critique: finished drafts

Final Period. December 14

Due: Final Project and revisions on 7






Assignment 1: Flickr to Wikipedia (5 points):

You will find an appropriately Creative Commons licensed image on Flickr (CC BY or CC BY-SA) and import it into Wikimedia Commons, and place it onto at least one Wikipedia Page for which it could help illustrate. Choose a subject in the field of design, digital media, and new media art OR Staten Island history and geography. For example, you could find a photograph of Lynn Hershman Leeson or her work on Flickr, and add it to the Wikimedia Commons, and then include that on her Wikipedia page; or you could add photographs of the CSI campus to the page about CSI. Except, because this is the demonstration example, you can't use John Maeda or CSI, but you can start by looking at one of these lists of new media artists, contemporary artists, designers, fashion designers. You will have to do a significant amount of research for this project, many of these will be dead ends, but this is part of the research process.

By the end of this project you should be able to:

  • Understand Creative Commons license types, and their relationship to Free Culture
  • Understand Fair Use, its relationship to freedom of speech, and why images reliant on Fair Use are allowed on the English Wikipedia, but not other Wikipedia sites, nor on Wikimedia Commons.
  • Have a user account on Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons
  • Be able to upload images to Wikimedia Commons from Flickr
  • Be able to make basic edits to Wikipedia using BBCode


1. Learn a little bit about Free Culture:

2. Find a freely licensed image

3. Move that image from Flickr (or another source) to the Wikimedia Commons

  • Upload an image to the Commons using the Flickr to Commons tool.
  • Before you start, please authorize the app here and sign in to the Commons.
  • Be sure to use the photo's Flickr ID, which is the long number in the URL
  • First step: add Flickr ID number, and click "Run" (the image should show up below in a blue area)
  • Second step: Add to the description and categories, as needed, and click "Transfer selected files to the Commons"
  • If it worked, the image area below will turn green. If the area below is red there was an error (likely that you are not signed in, or didn't authorize the app.)
  • Follow the link at the bottom to the image on the commons.


4. Add that image to at least one Wikipedia page

5. Post these links to the forum:

  • Source image (on Flickr)
  • Image on Wikimedia Commons
  • Image on the Wikipedia page

6. Watch that page on Wikipedia and on Wikimedia Commons. To watch the page, click the star at the top right. More on watching pages here.

7. Return to the page and image in a six hours and again after a week, and note any changes.

8. Return to the page periodically during the class, and again at the end of the class. At the end of class you can write a short description of any events that happened to the image or the page during this time which will be considered for extra credit. These may include the removal of your image from the WP page or the WMC entirely, the inclusion of your image on other WP pages, or edits to your image or the text caption.


Assignment 2: Out of place (10 points)

Put a figure into a scene from a different time and place.

Take an image of a person, remove the background from that image. The image of the person you can include their whole body, or just their face, or anything in between. Find a Image in which you can put that figure. You may make one of these two photographs yourself, but not both; at least one of them needs to be found.

You should think about what kind of meaning it's made by the combination of the two. Are you crossing time and space? Are you creating contrast between black-and-white and color? What kind of story are you telling? Is the person or scene instantly recognizable or personal/obscure? How does your viewer decode the meaning you have encoded into the image?

Some ground rules: the personal and scene cannot be fictional (e.g. film or comic) nor can they be a sports figure. Your images should either be appropriately CC licensed, or constitute fair use.

Please create a blog post which includes a jpg with the longest dimension at 1000px. Bring your PSD to class.

Assignment 3: Impossible Spaces (10 points)

Use image merge to create a composite image of an interior space that shows you more than the eye can see.


Assignment 4: Still Lifes (10 points)


Assignment 5: Frankensteins (10 points)

Your assignment is to create a frankenstein body. You are to join at least 5 different bodies or body parts to form one larger body. This assignment is open ended to allow you to explore and be creative. Your goal is to create a work that clearly is unreal, rather than a work that hides its falseness.

Contrast and surprise are going to be key tools for this. Don't just swap a head onto a body. Engage with contrasting body types, skin colors, genders, ages, etc.

You can also aim for impossibility and surreality, by adding too many limbs, eyes, or fingers or by turning human forms into non-human outputs. For example, imagine a hand with hands at the end of each of those fingers (and hands at the end of those fingers...?) Or imagine that same idea of hands coming out of hands as a tree. Or turn it upside down and make a spider out of it.

In all of this, I want you to think about the meaning of the image you are creating. What is its thesis? What is it saying?

You will turn in a 10 x 16 inch phaser print on 11 x 17 paper at the start of class, printed at 300 DPI. You will upload to blackboard a jpg saved at 1200px wide, and turn in a full res psd at the start of class. The PSD will need to be at least 300 DPI. Please pay close attention to these specifications.

Technical resources
For demos on Select > Color Range see: The conventional one or the one from "You Suck At Photoshop" (more on that here). For more on quick masks, please see chapter 10 of Digital Foundations. and Chapter 11 of Digital Foundations.

Visual References
focused on unintentional frankensteins and other misrepresentations of reality


Assignment 6: Perfection (10 points)

Retouch a family photo into magazine-cover-ready perfection. In particular, choose an image whose roughness defines its contextual/historical place, and remove that roughness via retouching and recoloring.

You will use all of the retouching tricks you have learned, in order to make the image more "perfect" than reality. You will use the following: spot healing brush, healing brush, color correction and enhancement, hue/saturation, blend modes, liquify. The Facial Scrub and Foundation Makeup tutorials may be useful. You will want to use the techniques described in the "glamour glow" tutorial and the corresponding skin selection tutorial, as well as eye color adjustment techniques. The 1940s black and white portrait tutorial will be useful, if only for its pseudo-depth-of-field trick from the blurred background.

Print the image at the same dimensions as the original image, with the original image set side by side in a "before and after" format. Upload a 1000px wide jpg to blackboard.

Assignment 7: Accumulation (15 points)

Keeping in mind the history of collage, constructivism, collage, and political protest, you will create a large (16 x 20 inch) collage. Your theme for this project is open, under the general category of fakes, forgeries, and lies.

This college will achieve its effect via the accumulation of many many parts which you will composite together. We will print this at full size on the large format printer.

You will make a creative brief, with a description of the work, what it aims to achieve, with a sketch and sample images. Take Ryan Trecartin's brief as an example to work from. Your creative brief, with all of your source images is due next week. A draft composition is due the following week, uploaded to blackboard at 1200px wide and placed on the instructor machine as a full resolution.psd. The following week the final prints are due.

Some of the visual references to improvise upon include:

Dada / Hannah Hoch (Image 1, Image 2)

John Heartfield

Richard Hamilton

The Beatles, St. Pepper's album cover art

Martha Rosler (Image 1 and Image 2 from Vietnam War era, Image 3 from 1970's feminism, Image 4 and Image 5 from Iraq/Afghanistan War)

Barbara Kruger (image search)

Cliff Evans, Road to Mount Weather (Video and Stills)

Kenneth Tin-kin Hung

Carla Gannis, Garden of Emoji Delights

Olia Lialina One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age Photo Op

Rashaad Newsom


Final Project: Wikipedia Illustrations/People's History (25 points)

You will be completing two illustrations for the Wikipedia Illustrated project OR for Just Seed's "Celebrate People's History"

Due November 14- Blackboard post with a creative briefs on the your first chosen articles/events. For WP: The brief must include the quotes from each article, a sketchbook or photoshop draft and the set of freely licensed images to be reused. For PH: The brief must include must include a summary of the event/person/etc, a sketchbook or photoshop draft and the images/sources you plan on using in the work.

In class November 21-

Desk crit on creative briefs. You will choose one of the two articles to work on, and spend the rest of class period, and the following week:

  • Free style initial drafts - using the quote from the note as a reference.
  • Create at least 5 initial drafts
  • Rank these draft illustrations on a subjective/objective scale from 1 to 10
  • Prepare the illustrations for blog posting (scan drawings or save for web psds)
  • Post a draft of your summary post on blackboard.

Off week, Thanksgiving:

Begin the process with a second illustration, iterating through the process again, choosing a topic, and preparing a creative brief for both of it (with the qutoes and images)

December 5: First WP/PH work is due, roughs for the second one is due.

December 12: Final Critique on both