Perspective Geometry
MATH 121 (5 week course, 1 credit)
Virginia Commonwealth University

Aug. 21 Sept. 23, 2014
TR 11:0012:15
Harris Hall 2128

Instructor: Richard Hammack
Office: Harris 4146
Work: 828-6237
Office hours:
Home: 355-3963
Tues. 10:00–10:45 and 1:30–2:30
E-mail: rhammack (at) vcu (dot) edu
Course web page:
and by appointment

Prerequisite: This course is open only to students in VCU's School of the Arts; there is no other prerequisite.

This is a course about linear perspective, a mathematical system invented by Renaissance artists to accurately represent three-dimensional space on a flat surface. We will develop an understanding of why parallel lines appear to converge and why objects appear smaller when viewed from a distance. We will learn some of the techniques for drawing scenes and objects in correct perspective, understand why they work, and discuss them in the context of Renaissance masters and their modern counterparts. Toward the end of the course we will see how these artistic ideas lead to a new branch of mathematics called projective geometry. Your grade is determined by five assignments, a final project and attendance/engagement. Details follow.

Assignments: There will be five assignments. They are due at the beginning of class on appointed days. Work that appears to have been created hastily and without thought will be graded accordingly. If you must miss class on day an assignment is due, please give me your work early or have a classmate turn it in for you. You may also submit work via email as a scanned copy or photo, but it must bear a timestamp showing that it was received by the beginning of class on the day it is due. I tend not to print emailed homework assignments, and therefore they may not receive any written feedback from me.

Project: Create an art object that uses the ideas discussed in this class. You may use any reasonable media. Everyone will present their work in a critique on the last day of class. See the course web page for more details and guidelines concerning the project.

Attendance/engagement: You are expected to attend and be intellectually engaged in each class. You can earn a total of 20 points for Attendance/engagement. If you have only one absence, it will not be counted against you. Beyond that, each additional absence results in 5 points deducted from the 20 points. Under normal circumstances I do not make the distinction between excused and unexcused absences. Any kind of absence may potentially affect your grade. Being in class physically but tuned out mentally can count as an absence! Things that could cause you to lose additional participation points include leaving your cell phone on, texting in class, and other rude behaviors. (Not that I expect you would do any of these things!)

As a matter of courtesy, you should arrive punctually and stay for the entire duration of each class you attend. Please inform me ahead of time if you must leave early.

At some point each day (usually at the beginning of class) I will take attendance by either calling roll or circulating a sign-up sheet. If you arrive after this happens, you may be counted as absent. Signing the roll sheet for someone else is considered an honor violation.

Late Work: If you turn in an assignment late, then I will take it but I will not grade it immediately. At the end of the course I will evaluate late work, though it may earn no more than half credit.
Your final average will be computed as follows:
Assignments: 50%
Final project: 30%
Attendance/engagement: 20%

Total: 100%

The 10-point grading scale is used:
A: 90100
B: 8089
C: 7079
D: 6069
F: 059

You will probably need the following supplies. (You do not need to bring them to class.)
• Ruler or straightedge (18" or longer)
• Assortment of drawing pens/pencils
• Drawing paper (at least 18" wide)
• 8.5 by 11" plastic transparencies (optional)
• Compass (optional)
• Masking tape
• Plastic 45-45-90 or 30-60-90 triangle, T-square or some way of forming accurate right angles

Note: All work submitted for a grade in this course should be yours and yours alone. Occasional exceptions are made for cases in which you use another artist's work in a creative or constructive way, leading to a wholly new artwork. If you do use another artist's work, you must clearly state your sources. Anything else is considered plagiarism and it will be dealt with accordingly.

Information about this course is posted on my web page (not on Blackboard). Go to my home page and click on "schedule," then "Math 121." There you will find the syllabus, project details, a calendar and assignment due dates.

Email: Any email correspondence concerning this course should be through your official VCU email address. University policy prevents me from discussing many aspects of the course through other email addresses. I may send email messages either to the whole class or individuals in the class. It is your responsibility to check your VCU email regularly.

Cell Phones: Please be sure that all cell phones and other electronic devices (including iPods, laptops, etc.) are turned off and stowed away for the entire duration of each class. Leaving such devices on may lower your participation score.

Office: Please feel free to stop by my office whenever you have a question, or if you just want to chat. If my posted hours are inconvenient, I will be happy to schedule an appointment. Tell me if you are having trouble. Catching up can be difficult if you get behind, so let me know as soon as you think there is a problem.

VCU Policies: Read the VCU policies on the course web page. They apply to all students in this course.