UCLA Design Media Arts

DESMA 160 - Special Topics: Digital Imaging and the Expanded Photography

Summer 2017

Tuesday & Thursday 1pm - 5:45pm

Broad Art Center Room: 4220

Instructor: Rui “Ray” Hu


Office Hours: Tuesday 5:45pm - 7pm


To state the super obvious: we’re surrounded by digital images. As we scroll through Facebook, Instagram, and various other apps and websites, we‘re drifting through an endless stream of snapshots, memes, advertisements, portraits, news photos, fake news photos, etc. With the ubiquity of cellphone cameras and the internet, what people are doing with photographs are constantly changing. On the other hand, product “photos” from many companies like Apple and Ikea are actually 3D rendered computer graphics; can they still be called photographs? Artists have long been exploring the questions of what makes an image a photograph. This question is becoming increasingly complicated and multifaceted with the advance of various digital technologies.

This class explores a broad range of concepts and topics in digital image and photography. Assuming students already know how to take photos using a digital device, the course will start by introducing DSLR cameras operation, image retouching, and inkjet printing. It will then focus on various emerging practices in image-making that are related to photography, including 3D rendering and digital manipulation. Examples in the realms of contemporary art, video game, film, internet culture, and advertisement will be discussed. Students are expected to be informed by these examples and discussions to complete their own creative projects. The class consists of lectures, workshops, visiting speakers, and field trips.


The Photograph as Contemporary Art by Charlotte Cotton (published by Thames & Hudson)

Digital Art by Christiane Paul (published by Thames & Hudson)


15% - Project 1 (presented in digital slides)

25% - Project 2 (presented in printed form)

40% - Project 3 (presented in printed form and digital booklet)

10% - Artist research and presentation

10% - Class participation

97-100 = A+ (4.0)

87-89 = B+ (3.3)

77-79 = C+ (2.3)

60-69 = D  (1.0)

0-59 = F  (0)

   92-96 = A  (4.0)

82-86 = B   (3.0)

72-76 = C   (2.0)

   90-91 = A- (3.7)

80-81 = B-  (2.7)

70-71 = C-  (1.7)


If you are less than 20 minutes late, you get a tardy. Every tardy is a step down on your final grade (e.g., A to A-). If you are more than 20 minutes late, you will be marked absent. Each unexcused absence will result in one full letter grade down (e.g., A+ to B+). Three unexcused absences will result in a failed grade (F) for the class. An absence can only be excused for medical reasons and you must provide the instructor with a doctor’s note.


UCLA takes academic integrity very seriously. Please read the following policy carefully. Any suspected academic dishonesty will result in a full investigation by the Office of the Dean of Students.

Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to, the use of another person’s work (including words, ideas, designs, or data) without giving appropriate attribution or citation. This includes, but is not limited to, representing, with or without the intent to deceive, part or all of an entire work obtained by purchase or otherwise, as the student’s original work; the omission of or failure to acknowledge the true source of the work; or representing an altered but identifiable work of another person or the student’s own previous work as if it were the student’s original or new work.

  -- UCLA Student Conduct Code, Section 102.01c: Academic Dishonesty–Plagiarism.

Unless otherwise specified by the faculty member, all submissions—whether in draft or final form—to meet course requirements (including a paper, project, exam, computer program, oral presentation, or other work) must either be the student’s own work or must clearly acknowledge the source.

All class assignments are expected to be original work submitted by individual students or, if directed by the instructor, by students working in a team.

  -- UCLA Registrar's Office


Week 1 Tuesday (08/08)

Lecture: Look What Happened

Workshop: Digital camera

Week 1 Thursday (08/10)

Lecture: Body, Identity, Narrative

Workshop: Basic Photoshop and image formats

Week 2 Tuesday (08/15)

Lecture: What Am I Looking At?

Workshop: more Photoshop

Week 2 Thursday (08/17)

Lecture: Blurring the Lines

Project 1 due and critique

Week 3 Tuesday (08/22)

Lecture: Archive and Network

Lecture: Virtual Camera

Week 3 Thursday (08/24)

Workshop: Inkjet printing

Workshop: Basic 3D rendering

Week 4 Tuesday (08/29)

Lecture: It’s Just the Evidence

Studio time and one-on-one meetings

Week 4 Thursday (08/31)

Project 2 due and critique

Field trip or visiting artist talk (tentative)

Week 5 Tuesday (09/05)

Artist presentation group 1

Visiting artist talk (tentative)

Week 5 Thursday (09/07)

Artist presentation group 2

Visiting artist talk (tentative)

Week 6 Tuesday (09/12)

Discussion: What Is It Anyway?

Studio time and one-on-one meetings

Week 6 Thursday (09/14)

Project 3 due and critique

List of Artists in Lectures:

List of Artists for Student Presentations: