Survey of Media Art


Fall 2011, Thursdays 1:30pm to 4:30pm, Avery 110
Screenings: Wednesdays, 7:00pm to 10:00pm, Preston


Professor Ed Halter


Office: Avery 322
Office hours: Thursdays 5:00pm to 7:00pm, 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 writings, 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 mandatory at all lectures and screenings. 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 Reservesdirect or from pages linked to from this syllabus. All articles not otherwise indicated or linked will be found on Reservesdirect. 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 and in preparing for your midterm and final exams.

» Exams
There will be an in-class midterm exam, and an in-class final exam. Both midterm and final exams are primarily 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 17 to discuss, then turn in a one-page topic summary with preliminary bibliography of at least four sources no later than December 1.

» Grading Formula:
Midterm exam 50%
Final exam or paper 50%

» Schedule


Week 1: Defining Media
Wednesday, August 31
Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976)

Thursday, Sept 1
No reading

Week 2: Guerrilla Television
Wednesday, Sept 7
Four More Years (TVTV, 1972)
Fifty Wonderful Years (Optic Nerve, 1973)

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

Thursday, Sept 8

Marshall McLuhan, "The Medium is the Message" (optional: "Media Hot and Cold," which is included in the same pdf)
Deirdre Boyle, "A Brief History of Documentary Video"
David Joselit, “Feedback” from Feedback: Television Against Democracy

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
Wednesday, Sept 14
Global Groove (Nam June Paik, 1973)
The Medium is the Medium (various artists, Fred Barzyk/WGBH, 1969)

Thursday, Sept 15
Lucinda Furlong, "Image Processing as a Genre"
Stephen Beck, "Videographics"
Stephen Beck, "Image Processing and Video Synthesis"

Week 4: Guest Speaker / Expanded Cinema & Early Computer Art

Wednesday, Sept 21


The Computer Generation [Stan Vanderbeek] (John Musili, 1972)
The Film Art of John Whitney, Sr. (John Musili, 1975)

The Artist and the Computer [Lillian Schwartz] (John K. Ball, 1976)

Thursday, Sept 22

Screening in class:

Selected films by Lillian Schwartz (1970s)


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

Week 5: Studio Tapes / Performance Tapes
Wednesday, Sept 28

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

Thursday, Sept 29


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


Week 6: Appropriation
Wednesday, Oct 5

Das Schleyerband (Klaus vom Bruch, 1977-78)

Thursday, Oct 6

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 7: Midterm Exam
Wednesday, Oct 12
No screening

Thursday, Oct 13

Week 8: Diary & Essay
Wednesday, Oct 19

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

Thursday, Oct 20

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

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

Week 9: Video Narrative / Digital Cinema

Wednesday, Oct 26
Leaving the 20th Century (Max Almy, 1982)
Possibly in Michigan (Cecelia Condit, 1983)
C’est Vrai (Robert Frank, 1990)

Thursday, Oct 27
Holly Willis, "The Future of the Feature"
Godfrey Cheshire, "The Death of Film/The Decay of Cinema"

Week 10: Early Internet Art
Wednesday, Nov 2
Strain Andromeda The (Anne McGuire, 1992)

Wednesday, Nov 3
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

Wednesday, Nov 9

Forcefield Video Collection (Forcefield, 1999-2000)

Industrial Synth (Seth Price, 2000-2001)

Pj Vidz #1 (Paper Rad, 2002)


Wednesday, Nov 10


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

Week 12: Exhibition & Distribution
Wednesday, Nov 16
Untitled #29.95 (Rtmark/The Video Aktivists, 2000)
Nest of Tens (Miranda July, 1999)

A Family Finds Entertainment (Ryan Trecartin, 2004)

Thursday, Nov 17
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

Wed Nov 23-Thu Nov 24: Thanksgiving vacation, no class





Week 13: Game Art
Wednesday, Nov 30

Thursday, Dec 1
Gonzalo Frasca, "Videogames of the Oppressed"
Alexander Galloway, "Counter Gaming"

Week 14: Final exam
Wednesday, Dec 7
No screening

Thursday, Dec 8

Final exam
Final essays due during class (before 4:30pm) for those who choose this option.

Week 15: Completion Week
Wednesday, Dec 14
No screening.

Thursday, Dec 15

YouTube battle. Final exams handed back.




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