VISA 110 Sample Student Work

Trickery Prompt

The main difference seems to be that, whereas photography still claims some sort of objectivity, digital imaging is an overtly fictional process. As a practice that is known to be capable of nothing but fabrication, digitization abandons even the rhetoric of truth that has been such an important part of photography’s cultural success.
Geoffrey Batchen

If we want to call up more hopeful or positive uses of manipulated images, we must choose images in which manipulation is itself apparent, not just as a form of artistic reflexivity but to make a larger point about the truth value of photographs and illusionistic elements in the surface of (and even definition of) reality. 
Martha Rosler

Because photographs are products connected the ‘real’, people can be quite gullible and take them as truth. With the rise of digital technologies, many images have some form of manipulation which affects the way in which a photograph can be read, interpreted, and the meaning it conveys. Access to digital photographic manipulations on our phone and smart devices has complicated this further. Pixels have become the new pigment, and photographers can almost become painters. Digital media has given a new discourse to photography, a scrutiny and speculation on truth and manipulation in an image. You will employ this tension of manipulation versus the mechanical nature of photography on a topic you are interested in.
You are to create an image that enacts trickery. You must have an idea or meaningful purpose of why you used manipulation in your scene. You can use the camera on your phone, a professional camera, or a disposable camera. Be sure to plan your images well, and photograph them with post-production in mind. After bringing your images into the computer, execute your manipulation using Photoshop in one single document with many layers. The manipulation can be, (and works best when it is) subtle and unassuming yet poignant. But, you may also create more exaggerated manipulations if your idea calls for it. Be careful of how you use symbols, codes, subject matter, particular references and what your manipulation can inform or impose. The trickery can be made by juxtaposing multiple images together to create one single image, changing lighting situations, proportions, multiplying elements, etc. Or you may erase or alter specific elements of an image by pushing pixels. There are many ways to manipulate in Photoshop and I encourage you to explore. Most important, be creative, thoughtful and informed of what the image will convey because of your ‘trick’. Every choice is important, therefore you must carefully make decisions and experiment with what those decisions mean to the concept of the piece. It is not the amount of ‘trickery’ that is important, but why your trick informs meaning of the content -that will make a successful piece.

Due Dates
Rough Draft upload to ComPAIR due October 14, 11:59pm
Peer Critiques open after the October 16 lecture and are due October 18, 11:59
Full project due for critique in your lab, October 22 – November 1 *at the start of lab for critique

This project must be completed in one document with layers in Photoshop. You must use original photographs, this means you must take your own photos for the piece. If you wish to use found images, please consult with your TA or Christine to get permission. This project must be in colour, colour and density balanced and adjusted.  Size dimensions is a minimum of 8 inches on each side, proportions variable to your project, and must be of fine art printing quality (300 dpi) although you are not required to print it.  You are required to hand in a working .psd file and .jpg file on a labelled flash drive.  The photoshop file must be UNFLATTENED, therefore layers intact to show and prove your work.

You must name your .psd file by your last then first name, and you must label the exterior of your flash drive, failure to label your work with your name will result in a grade of zero.

Along with your flash drive, you must submit a maximum one page hard-copy print-out during lab to your TA with the following information:

  • Your Name
  • Title of the Work
  • Dimensions & Resolution (inches & DPI)
  • Maximum 100 word description of intention for the work, and its relationship to ‘trickery’ (this is for our ability to grade it if questions arise, we will not grade this description itself)
  • Maximum 150 word summary of received online peer feedback, how you considered the feedback and how you incorporated the feedback into revisions of the work.  If you did not use the feedback in your revisions, please detail why not.

Appropriation Prompt

“Access is the most precious of all privileges, and it is therefore strictly guarded, which in turn makes one wonder whether to be a successful plagiarist, one must also be a successful hacker.”
-Critical Art Ensemble

“Good artists borrow. Great artists steal.”
-Pablo Picasso

The world is filled to suffocating.  Man has placed his token on every stone. Every word, every image, is leased and mortgaged.  We know that a picture is but a space in which a variety of images, none of the original, blend and clash.
-Sherrie Levine

The artistic question is no longer; “what can we make that is new?” but “how can we make do with what we have?.”  In other words, how can we produce singularity and meaning from this chaotic mass of objects, names and references that constitutes our daily life?
-Nicolas Bourriaud

You must borrow from any moving image source, such as film, commercial photography, television, video games, talk shows, commercials, songs, trailers, cartoons, old films, music or even art sources, to create a new appropriated work that reveals, exposes or changes meaning (or does all of these things) from the source’s original meaning.  Be creative in approach to the material sources and what your alterations or juxtapositions can relay to the viewer.  Be sure to be aware of the connotations and links that your sources contain within them, or the primary meaning of your sources, and let this inform your changes, and how your changes will be read. Therefore, we expect back-up research of the sources you are using and what place they take in society.  Adjust or manipulate your sources in a creative way towards new meaning or to reveal hidden meaning in savvy, artistic, poetic, magical, enticing way.  Think of how the meaning can be pushed or altered stylistically, through effects of slow motion or sped up, through juxtaposition, erasure, addition, and manipulation or even by way of a collection of scenes with a common theme.  We will be looking at how the appropriation of the original content of the source finds new meaning and a new way of receiving or looking at it, reveals original agency in an image and questions it, including the creation of myths or ideologies.

Create a meaningful and thoughtful piece that you will be proud of, a work that goes beyond being an ‘assignment’ and into the realm of art, something that approaches things in an accountable and critical view that you are concerned or provoked by.  You can even dissect or challenge the idea of appropriation itself.  Push boundaries!  This is Art!

Technical Requirements

For all projects, all sources must be appropriated, you may have one source or a thousand or anywhere in-between —only appropriated material allowed! 

A challenging part of this project is obtaining the original source files at a decent quality, so search out footage, images, or sound first, or let it inspire you before being stuck on an idea that you may not be able to execute.  Try,, torrents, Google video, encoding YouTube videos or searches that specify” mp4” files for video’s.  This preliminary research is essential work.  We will understand and allow a ‘watermark’ or branding icon on your footage, as well as low resolution, and there are no grade deductions because of it –although it would be great to avoid it unless it informs your concept.  If all else fails, use a video camera and shoot your tv or computer screen, or in-screen recording, for editable footage!

Specific Requirements:
  • The project must be completed using Adobe Premiere Pro, and therefore you should use “Module 4:  Introductory Premiere” and as an option to expand your practice, you may also use tutorials provided in “Module 5:  Advanced Premiere” to help you through the project.
  • All projects can be completed on a PC or MAC platform using Adobe Premiere Pro, the programs are cross-platform but the demonstrations online are on a MAC.  Keep in mind that you may have to look up certain aspects that don’t transfer platforms, Premiere can be a bit more complicated than Photoshop in this.
  • The project must be between 15 seconds to 2 minutes in length, you may think about looping it if you wish for duration to be a present factor.  If you wish to go outside of this guideline, please speak to your TA or Christine about why, and we will consider.
  • The frame rate and dimension of the work is dependent on your footage, so there are no specific guidelines except to make the quality render the information of the footage decently.  You may work in standard (SD) or HD format, but please keep in mind the power and ability of your computer to handle HD video.  Rendering could also take quite a while, be aware of the time and equipment constraints, please work within your means.
  • You must submit both a working and final movie file for grading, the working Premiere file (PRPROJ) and also please create a compressed (MP4) or (MOV) file in H264 The final MP4 or MOV file cannot be more than 100 MB.  The final PRPROJ file needs to fit on your flash drive.
  • Failure to provide both files and your name on the drive and file name can result in a failing grade.

Along with your Premiere working file and .MP4 file for your final hand in, please provide the following information on a hard copy paper sheet, 1-2 pages in length, it must contain:

  • Your Name
  • Title of the Work
  • Duration of the work
  • Maximum 200 word description of intention for the work, and its relationship to ‘appropriation’
  • References (title and year and if possible, URL) of appropriated sources
  • Summary (200 words) of feedback you received online and in consultation with peers and teachers, how you considered the feedback and how you incorporated the feedback into revisions of the work. If you did not use the feedback in your revisions, please detail why not
Due Dates
  • Peer Critique – Rough Draft upload to ComPAIR by November 15 end of day, this file must be smaller than 25 MB (MP4 file), otherwise you will have to host it on another site and provide a link and password to where it can be found online.
  • Peer critiques open the next day and stay open until November 22, end of day.
  • Final Critiques take place November 19-29 (in your lab) *due at the start of lab for critique.

Sample Student Work