Film 167: Survey of Media Art

Fall 2010, Fridays 10:10 to 1:10, Avery 110
Screenings: Thursdays, 7:00 to 10:00, Avery 110

Professor Ed Halter

Office: Avery 220
Office hours: Thursdays 2:30 to 4:30, by appointment


» Description
This course provides an introduction to the history of moving-image art made with electronic media. We will cover the history of video art and experimental video, video/film hybrids, art made with computers, internet art and art made with video games. We will read a selection of critical and historical texts, as well as view important works from the history of media art.

» Attendance
An attendance sheet will be signed at the beginning of each class and each screening. Attendance is, of course, mandatory. Three absences and your grade drops a letter. More than three and your grade drops two. Should you experience any problems meeting these requirements at any point in the course, please contact me immediately.

» Readings
Weekly readings will be taken from articles posted on Reserveweb or from pages linked to from this syllabus, and from Michael Rush, New Media in Art (2nd edition). All articles not otherwise indicated or linked will be found on Reserveweb. A copy of Rush's book is on reserve at the library. Please have your readings done by class and ready to discuss; taking notes during reading and bringing these to class is recommended for this purpose.

» Screenings
You must bring a notebook and take notes during the screenings. Take down whatever connections, observations or oddities that come to mind as you view the work. These notes will be useful to you in discussions, for your weekly writing assignments, and in preparing for your midterm and final exams.

» Requirements
Weekly 200-250 word writing assignments, an in-class midterm exam, and an in-class final exam. Both midterm and final exams are essay format. Note: With permission of the instructor, you may replace your final exam with a final research paper on a topic of your choice, 12-15 pages. If you wish to do so, you must first set up an appointment to meet with me no later than November 19 to discuss, then turn in a one-page topic summary with preliminary bibliography of at least four sources no later than December 3.

» Grading Formula:
Weekly writing 34%
Midterm exam 33%
Final exam or paper 33%

» Weekly writing assignments
Each week you will be required to complete a short writing assignment based on current readings and/or screenings. Topics will be given out a week in advance, at the end of class; if you miss a class or leave early, it is your responsibility to get the week’s topic from another student.

You will need to hand your assignments in to me printed out with your name and the due date only at the top: please do not title your compositions. The finished assignment must be at least 200 words and no more than 250; only a small portion of this may be quotation from the readings. Your writing will be graded for both content and form; please follow the guidelines in the MLA Handbook. I will not accept late assignments under any circumstances, technology-related or otherwise, nor will I accept assignments via email.

The weekly writing assignments will be graded as follows:
Check plus: assignment completed with strong ideas and few or no composition or information errors.
Check: assignment completed with strong ideas and two to four composition or information errors.
Check minus: assignment completed with weak ideas and/or four or more composition or information errors
Zero: assignment not completed or not handed in.

» Schedule

Week 1: Defining Media

Thursday, Sept 2
Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976)

Friday, Sept 3
No reading

Week 2: Guerrilla Television

Thursday, Sept 9
Four More Years (TVTV, 1972)
Fifty Wonderful Years (Optic Nerve, 1973)

The Eternal Frame (Ant Farm/T.R. Uthco)

Friday, Sept 10

Marshall McLuhan, "The Medium is the Message" (optional: "Media Hot and Cold") (Reserveweb or alternate link)
Deirdre Boyle, "A Brief History of Documentary Video" (Reserveweb or alternate link)
David Joselit, “Feedback” from Feedback: Television Against Democracy (Reserveweb or alternate link)

Watching in class:
Mayday Realtime (excerpt) (David Cort, 1971)
Peoples' Video Theater (excerpts) (Ken Marsh, 1971)
Television Delivers People (Carlota Fay Schoolman & Richard Serra, 1973)

The Business of Local News (University Community Video-Minneapolis, 1974)

Week 3: Image Processing

Thursday, Sept 16
Global Groove
(Nam June Paik, 1973)
The Medium is the Medium
(various artists, Fred Barzyk/WGBH, 1969)

Friday, Sept 17

Rush, 7-33 and 82-123
Lucinda Furlong, "Image Processing as a Genre"
Stephen Beck, "Videographics"
Stephen Beck, "Image Processing and Video Synthesis"

Week 4: Studio Tapes / Performance Tapes

Thursday, Sept 23
I Am Making Art
(John Baldessari, 1971)
Reel 2 (William Wegman, 1972)
Vertical Roll
(Joan Jonas, 1972)
(Richard Serra and Nancy Holt, 1974)
Three Transitions
(Peter Campus, 1973)
Island Song
(Charlemagne Palestine, 1976)
(Gary Hill, 1979)

Friday, Sept 24
Rush, 36-79

Rosalind Kraus, "Video: The Aesthetics of Narcissism"
Martha Gever, "The Feminism Factor"

Week 5: Appropriation

Thursday, Sept 30
Das Schleyerband
(Klaus vom Bruch, 1977-78)

Friday, Oct 1
David Ross, "Truth or Consequences: American Television and Video Art"
Ed Halter, “Recycle It”
Frederic Jameson, "Postmodernism and Consumer Society"

Wikipedia: Red Army Faction

Week 6: Diary & Essay

Thursday, Oct 7
A New Year, Living Inside, Me and Rubyfruit, If Every Girl Had a Diary
(Sadie Benning, 1989-1992)
Tongues Untied
(Marlon Riggs, 1990)
(Leah Gilliam, 1999)

Friday, Oct 8
Marlon T. Riggs, "Notes of a Signifying Snap Queen"

Chris Chang, "Up in Sadie's Room" (recommended: Gavin Smith, "Toy Stories")

Week 7: Midterm Exam

Thursday, Oct 14
No screening

Friday, Oct 15

Week 8: Expanded Cinema & Early Computer Art

Thursday, Oct 21
The Artist and the Computer
[Lillian Schwartz] (John K. Ball, 1976)
The Computer Generation
[Stan Vanderbeek] (John Musili, 1972)
The Film Art of John Whitney, Sr.
(John Musili, 1975)

Friday, Oct 22
Sheldon Renan, "Expanded Cinema"
Stan Vanderbeek, "Culture: Intercom and Expanded Cinema"
Gene Youngblood, "Cybernetic Cinema and Computer Films"

Rush, 203-212

Week 9: Video Narrative / Digital Cinema

Thursday, Oct 28
Leaving the 20th Century
(Max Almy, 1982)
Possibly in Michigan
(Cecelia Condit, 1983)
C’est Vrai
(Robert Frank, 1990)

Friday, Oct 29
Holly Willis, "The Future of the Feature"
Godfrey Cheshire, "The Death of Film/The Decay of Cinema"

Week 10: Early Internet Art

Thursday, Nov 4
Strain Andromeda The (Anne McGuire, 1992)

Thursday, Nov 5
Rachel Greene, "Web Work: A History of Internet Art"
Read Greene's essay and investigate all the included links. If any links are outdated or expired, find the old sites through the Wayback Machine at


Week 11: Contemporary Internet Art


Thursday, Nov 11

Forcefield Video Collection (Forcefield, 1999-2000)

Industrial Synth (Seth Price, 2000-2001)

Pj Vidz #1 (Paper Rad, 2002)


Thursday, Nov 12


Browse the last five months of Rhizome (Nov Oct Sep Aug Jul)

Rush, 180-202, 213-239

Week 12: Exhibition & Distribution

Thursday, Nov 18
Untitled #29.95
(Rtmark/The Video Aktivists, 2000)
Nest of Tens
(Miranda July, 1999)

A Family Finds Entertainment (Ryan Trecartin, 2004)

Friday, Nov 19
Lucas Hilderbrand, “Joanie and Jackie and Everyone They Know: Video Chainletters as Feminist Community.”
Sven Lütticken, “Viewing Copies: On the Mobility of Moving Images”
Wayne Koestenbaum, "Situation Hacker: The Art of Ryan Trecartin" (alternate pdf)

Rush, 124-179

Thu Nov 25-Fri Nov 26: Thanksgiving vacation, no class

Week 13: Game Art

Thursday, Dec 2
Guest artist Paul Slocum

Friday, Dec 3
Gonzalo Frasca, "Videogames of the Oppressed"
Alexander Galloway, "Counter Gaming"

Week 14: TBA

Thursday, Dec 9

Friday, Dec 10

Plus, review the semester and bring questions to class

Week 15: Final exam

Thursday, Dec 16
Final exam
Final essays due during class (before 10:0pm) for those who choose this option.

Friday, Dec 17

No class. Go home.




Links for further information, videos and whatnot

General information & videos
Media Art Net
Video Data Bank
Electronic Arts Intermix
Ars Electronica Archive

On Marshall McLuhan:
CBC video clips of McLuhan on television

Guerrilla television / activist video

Paper Tiger TV

Downtown Community Television Center (DCTV)

Deep Dish TV

Early Video Art
Radical Software
The Early Video Project
Experimental Television Center
ETC - Video History Project (great links to other sites)
Video Synthesizers Homage Page
VDB - Resources (historical essays and a very useful bibliography)

Electronic Music
Electronic Musical Instruments 1870-1990

Early Computer Art
Artist and Computer by Ruth Leavitt (1976)

The Portapak
Tech specs and images of early Sony video equipment

Illegal Art
Animal Charm
Kent Lambert
People Like Us

Creative Commons

Fair Use: The Center for Social Media 

Intellectual Property: Electronic Frontier Foundation

Craig Baldwin: Sonic Outlaws