Visual Thinking/Visual Computing

Visual Thinking/Visual Computing
Anne Morgan Spalter and Andries van Dam

The course is over. Thanks to everyone who took participated, gave guest lectures, and otherwise supported this effort!

This page has links to:

Take-Home Assignments
Make Your Own Car Ad description student work
Business Card Self-Portraits description student work
Fine Art Modern Landscape project description student work
Field Integration Project description student work
Final Projects description student work


In-Class Exercises
Power of Images


(some examples of student work from Pop-Outs, Face, Depth Cues, and Birds activities)

2D Computer Graphics
2D Computer Graphics
3D Computer Graphics
  • GTT 3D Projects GTT software page


  • The Power of Images: An Overview of Visual History and Theory
  • Overview of Visual Research Methods slides
  • Theory: Looking at and "Reading" Visual Materials slides
  • Introduction to Vision Science and Perception.
  • Design Concepts slides
  • 2D Computer Graphics Concepts.
    • Part 1, Raster Graphics slides Part 2, Geometric Graphics slides
  • 3D Computer Graphics Concepts
  • The Computer in the Fine Arts slides
  • Color: A Multidisciplinary Visual Field slides





Syllabus from Spring 2005 >>


About the Course

Course Description
"Visual Thinking/ Visual Computing" is an interdisciplinary course designed to provide a systematic grounding in both technical and theoretical areas of visual research and communication, with a focus on the key role of computer graphics. Basic technical issues such as types of data representation, rendering strategies, and the use of 2D vs. 3D will be presented, as well as cognitive science theories of visual thinking, visual culture studies, and ideas, examples, and projects from the worlds of art and literature. Course presentations will include guest lecturers from different areas of academia and industry in which computer-based visual thinking has changed day-to-day work life. Such guest lecturers will include University faculty as well as thought-leaders in computer graphics (such as Jaron Lanier), computer art, and other relevant fields.

Additional Description
The goal of this course is to provide a systematic and integrating framework to help students more effectively create, use, and understand images made with computers. Visual thinking and communication are now integral to performing and sharing knowledge-work in a large and ever-increasing number of academic fields and industries -- visual literacy skills are increasingly as important as textual and mathematical literacy.

On the practical side, students should leave this course knowing more about how to harness the power of visual computing to create effective visual materials. This should manifest itself in effective use of imagery in everything from internal visual thought processes to the use of images in a scientific explanation or multimedia presentation. On the theoretical side, students should leave with an understanding of the way that image meaning can be created and interpreted.

In this intensively multidisciplinary class, students will bring together concepts and theory from fields that include visual and cultural studies, cognitive and computer science, and art and design. Visual investigations in all of these areas will be informed by an understanding of the basic technical aspects of computer graphics, an essential prerequisite for effectively using graphical software and interpreting computer-generated visual materials made by others.