ARTH5413: Alternative Media: Video, Performance, Digital Art

3 Credits

One rather old and rigid concept in the history of art and aesthetics is that artistic media, each with its distinct qualities, are most successful when they remain separate. The best painting, according to this view, is one that explores its own properties of flatness, abstraction, and color. What became known in the first half of the 20th century as the philosophy of “medium specific purity” was radically challenged in the 1960s when the differences between painting and sculpture were intentionally blurred and when new media (performance, body art, happenings, video art, installations and digital art) were introduced. This course seeks to understand how alternative media were developed not through the invention of new technologies nor in isolation, but through revolutionary modes of thinking about time and space, human and non-human life, machines, archives, cyborgs, and interactivity (some of which date back to the 18th and 19th centuries). Through assigned readings and discussions as well as structured essay assignments, the class provides students with extensive practice in the critical analysis of theoretical texts and ample experience synthesizing diverse intellectual ideas and arguments in written form. More broadly, through a creative “timeline” assignment, the course seeks to teach students to think inventively about new media and their histories, to learn strategies for looking at, evaluating, and thinking about works of new media art. It also provides instruction in research techniques and resources in contemporary art, as well as on writing in art history.

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All Instructors

A- Average (3.667)Most Common: A (42%)

This total also includes data from semesters with unknown instructors.

50 students
  • 4.38


  • 3.50


  • 4.53


  • 4.23


  • 4.00



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