Projects in Math in Art
Projects are a big part of this course. Throughout the semester, there will be a variety of project opportunities for you to choose from. Some will involve drawing or painting, while others will involve reading books or articles, writing an analysis or doing some creative writing, or analyzing a famous work of art. You must do some of the projects; you do not need to do all of them. Thus, to some extent, you can choose the projects that you think are most interesting, best suit your talents, or even, I suppose, those that best fit your schedule.
- How Many Projects?
How do you know how many projects you should do? That's a judgment call on your part, based on how well you think you're likely to do on each of the projects you choose. For each project that you do, I will assign you points based on the correctness of the math, the extent to which you incorporated math in the work, the clarity of your explanation, and also the effort you put into the art, and to some extent the quality of the art. If you really put a lot of effort and mathematical thought into a project, incorporating the math extensively and correctly into your artwork, it might earn as many as 30-50 points. A good but not outstanding project will earn between 20 and 30 points. A project that does not incorporate the math very extensively, or only used the easiest ideas, will receive between 10 and 20 points, and (sadly) no matter how fabulous the art is, if the mathematical ideas are simply not there, or are very incorrect, the project will earn between 0 and 10 points. Full credit for this portion of the class will be 100 points -- that would be the equivalent of getting 100% on every problem set or on every exam. For those of you who feel uncomfortable taking tests, you'll want to aim for getting the full 100 points in this portion of the course. While it's possible to do so with just two projects, most people end up doing between three and five projects, and a few do more.
- Extra Credit:
If your scores on the projects add up to more than 100 points, the "extra" points will count as extra credit. Please do not, however, focus on the projects to the detriment of the homework and exams -- unfortunately, full project points and a lot of extra credit points won't be enough if your exam scores and homework scores are sufficiently low.
- Strategy for Getting the Most Out of Your Project:
I strongly suggest you come to me early on in your project-planning stage to check whether your mathematical ideas are correct. It is very frustrating to have put a lot of effort into an art project, and then have it turn out that the underlying mathematical ideas are not correct. Should this unfortunate turn of events come to pass, rest assured -- while that particular project will not earn many points for you, all is not lost. This is where the flexibility of this portion of the class comes in. At that point, you could choose to continue to pursue that topic, doing the same project (possibly with a different artistic concept) again or you can move on to the next project. (You can only repeat a topic within certain time restrictions -- you can't wait until the end of the semester, see whether you have as many points as you want, and then go back and redo projects if necessary -- I couldn't possibly get them graded!)
- Grading the Projects:
When I am assessing these projects, I will look at three aspects:
- the artwork will be assessed according to content, technique (mathematical, that is), aesthetics, and -- if applicable--innovative solutions to problems you ran into. I am not an artist (and this is not an art class), so it would not be fair, reasonable, or even possible for me to put much emphasis on aspects which to me are nebulous, like artistic merit. However, I clearly am going to give more credit to someone who has put a lot of effort into it and created something creative, interesting, and well-done than I am to someone whose work appears to have been done at the last minute. Specifically, I will be looking for creativity, effort, accuracy in measurement.
- the mathematical analysis will be graded on the sophistication (and correctness) of the analysis, the clarity of the presentation, and on the extent to which the mathematics in the project uses, or even supersedes, what is done in class.
- the project will also be assessed according to how creatively and correctly you have integrated the math and the art.
- Seeing What Everyone Has Done:
I will keep the completed projects, and will have a "show" of some of the best artworks at the end of the semester. (Plan on thumbtacks or tape being used on the corners of your work -- if you don't want that, mount your work on some sort of matting through which I *can* put thumbtacks!)
When I say "the best", I mean those artworks that reflect a lot of mathematics in a creative and correct way. They will not always be done by the best artists in the class! And unfortunately, no matter how much I like a work, if the math is not correct, or is not particularly deep, it will not be displayed. For instance, no matter how fabulous it is, a picture that only makes use of perspective by using a vanishing point is not using the perspective we'll be learning to full advantage -- it's using knowledge nearly everybody already has before they begin this class.
What Are The Projects?:
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Science Center, Room 109
Norton, Massachusetts 02766-0930
TEL (508) 286-3973
FAX (508) 285-8278
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