• Offered by School of Art and Design
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Visual Arts
  • Areas of interest Art History, Philosophy, Visual Arts, Human Centred Computing, Design
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Sean Dockray
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in First Semester 2020
    See Future Offerings

In this course, we explore Western conventions of artistic autonomy through a historical, philosophical, and material engagement with automation. Automation is most commonly understood as a mechanisation of the process of making and we see it around us in the proliferation of algorithms and robotics. Automation is also a delegation to an external process, a way of "letting the world in," as Robert Morris wrote. But automation is accompanied by accidents and this course will review the history of the accident from ancient Greece into the present. By intervening in social, environmental and technological systems, probing contemporary forms of automation and accident, we will develop a deeper understanding of what autonomy means for artists now and how to engage systems without being instrumentalised by them.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. develop familiarity with techniques of automation and discuss their use in contemporary arts practice;
  2. make artworks that critically engage with the politics of technology and autonomy in contemporary art contexts;
  3. conduct research into practices and discourses around automation and apply findings to studio-based research and creative production; and
  4. substantiate artistic outcomes with research and rationale.

Other Information

School of Art & Design studio courses have a limited enrolment capacity. Students are advised to enrol as early as possible to maximise the opportunity of securing a place.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Contextualising research (30) [LO 1,3,4]
  2. Project and development works made in response to discourse around automation and artistic autonomy (70) [LO 1,2,3,4]

In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle. 

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130 hours of total students learning time made up from:

a) 48 hours of contact over 12 weeks comprising lectures, tutorials, critiques and supervised studio practice; and

b) 82 hours of independent students research, studio production, reading and writing

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 24 units of courses towards an ANU degree. You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed ARTV6830 (Automation and Autonomy).

Prescribed Texts

Prescribed texts are not required.

Preliminary Reading

Morris, Robert. "Some Notes on the Phenomenology of Making", Continuous Project Altered Daily: The Writings of Robert Morris. New York, N.Y: MIT Press, 1993.

Steyerl, Hito, and Kate Crawford. “Data Streams.” The New Inquiry (blog), January 23, 2017. https://thenewinquiry.com/data-streams/.

Stiegler, Bernard. Automatic Society. Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2016.

Metahaven. The Sprawl, 2015


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $3120
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $4800
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
4739 24 Feb 2020 02 Mar 2020 08 May 2020 05 Jun 2020 In Person N/A

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