Media art, like contemporary art generally, has a strong critical aspect. Media art practice involves a crucial dimension of interrogating the cultural, social-political and material-aesthetic conditions of media. From Dada photographic collage through to contemporary hardware hacking there is a clearly evident concern to unsettle the representational transparency and taken-for-granted character of media. How does this inform the teaching of media art? It has obvious thematic importance, indicating paths of conceptual access and orientation, but what of the dimension of practice? What of the technical frameworks that we employ and the skills that we teach? How do they obtain a critical inflexion? This paper focuses on an attempt to foster critically informed digital media practice within a first year undergraduate media art subject.