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Information and Syllabus

History of New Media -- Spring '18

Location: Comm 1021
Time: T R 11:00am-12:50pm

Professor: Robert Spahr
Contact: rspahr@siu.edu
Office: Northwest Annex, B213
Office Hours:
T  9:00am-11:00am
W  11:00am-03:00pm
& by appointment

Course Syllabus Location: http://www.robertspahr.com/hnm/

Course Listings:
History of New Media - 27739 - CP441 - 001
History of New Media - 28042 - MCMA552 - 003

Required Text:

Wardrip-Fruin, Noah & Montfort, Nick. The New Media Reader. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press

Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press


This course is an overview of the pioneering artists and scientists who have brought about the dissolution of boundaries that have traditionally existed between the artistic and technological disciplines. We will survey the work and ideas of artists who have explored new interactive and interdisciplinary forms, as well as engineers and mathematicians who have developed information technologies and influential scientific and philosophical ideologies that have influenced the arts. Seminal artistic movements and genres will be explored, such as: the Futurists, Bauhaus, kinetic sculpture, Happenings, video art, electronic theater, etc.

We will also investigate new media's reliance on conventions of old media, such as the rectangular frame and mobile camera, and how new media works create the illusion of reality, address the viewer, and represent space. We will also look at categories and forms unique to new media, such as interface and database.

Students will develop an understanding of new media through in-depth analysis of historical trends and seminal work in the media arts and information sciences, as well as an analysis of the language and aesthetics unique to new media.


Jan 16
Introductions, Course Overview, What is New Media?
Lecture - Speedviewer's Guide to New Media
Assignment: #HashTagExercise

Darth Vader Feels Blue, 1:46
Gotye - Somebody That I Used to Know - Old School Computer Remix, 04:04
Lead Breakfast | Pogo , 03:37
Meet Amazon's robot army 01:39
BigDog Overview (Updated March 2010), 03:25
GNU User Lib video, 2:53
The Great Gatsby (2013) Visual Effects Before & After Clip [HD]
Laura Poitras: NYTimes, The Program, 08:27 Aug 22, 2012
Sebastian Deterding: What your designs say about you, 12:24

Jan 18
Lecture - Futurist & Dada
Luigi Russolo: The Art of Noises, July 1, 1913. (Listen to Intonarumori)
F.T. Marinetti, et al: The Futurist Cinema, November 15, 1916.
F.T. Marinetti, et al: The Futurist Synthetic Theatre, February 18th, 1915.
Tzara: Dada Manifesto, 1918
Duchamp: The R. Mutt Case - 1917, The Creative Act - 1957, Apropos of "ReadyMades" - 1961

Further resources:
Reconstruction of the Futurist Intonarumori by Russolo
Hugo Ball 'Karawane Score', 1916
Hugo Ball's Karawane performed by Trio Exvoco
Raoul Hausmann 'Soundrel', 1919
Vertov's Man with a Movie Camera (Alloy Orchestra) 1929, 1:06:40
Joseph Cornell's "Rose Hobart", (18:44) 1936
Steve Reich - Clapping Music, 4:02
Steve Reich 'Piano Phase' (1/2), 6:31
Steve Reich: Come Out, 13:09
Robert Rauschenberg - Erased De Kooning, 04:27
John Cage - About Silence, 04:19

Jan 23 / Jan 25
As We May Think - Vannevar Bush, NMR pp. 35-47.
Computing Machinery and Intelligence - Alan Turing, NMR pp. 49-64.
Men, Machines, and the World About - Norbert Wiener, NMR pp. 65-72.

#HashTagExercise is due

Further resources:
First Computer Bug - Grace Hopper, 1947
Eisenhower warns us of the military industrial complex, 1961
Kevin Kelly on the next 5,000 days of the web, 19:34, Dec 2007
How Does DeepMind's AlphaGo Zero Work?, 10:52 Oct 27, 2017
Kevin Slavin: How algorithms shape our world, 15:23 Jul 2011
Exponential Tomorrow | Ray Kurzweil | Exponential Manufacturing, 23:12 Jun 29, 2017
Hundreds of newly created Twitter accounts pushed #ReleaseTheMemo, Jan 24, 2018

Jan 30 / Feb 01
Proposal for a Universal Electronic Publishing System and Archive (from Literary Machines) - Theodor H. Nelson, NMR pp. 441-462.
Personal Dynamic Media - Alan Kay & Adele Goldberg, NMR pp. 391-404.
From Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework - Douglas Engelbart, NMR pp. 93-108.
From A Thousand Plateaus - Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, NMR pp. 405-409.

Further resources:
Original announcement of Douglas Engelbart's 1968 Demo
Douglas Engelbart: the first computer mouse, Dec 09, 1968
Douglas Engelbart: 1968 Demo - 1 of 9, Dec 09, 1968
Alan Kay shares a powerful idea about ideas, 20:13 Mar 2007
Kodak’s 1975 Model Digital Camera, NYTimes.com, August, 2010
Adele Goldberg presents Smalltalk-80 in a TV show, 3:08
Washington Post’s robot reporter has published 850 articles in the past year, Sep 14, 2017
This op-ed wasn't written by AI, Jan 30, 2018
How job surveillance is changing trucking in America, 9:35 Nov 20, 2017
A.I. is Progressing Faster Than You Think!, 12:07 Apr 12, 2017
AI Codes its Own ‘AI Child’ - Artificial Intelligence breakthrough!, 5:52 Jan 15, 2018

Feb 06 / Feb 08
Lecture - Bauhaus & John Cage & Marshall McLuhan
'Theater, Circus, Variety,' Theater of the Bauhaus - Moholoy-Nagy, 1924
Experimental Music - John Cage, 1957
The Galaxy Reconfigured - Marshall McLuhan, NMR pp. 193-202
The Medium is the Message - Marshall McLuhan, NMR pp. 203-209

Further resources:
Schlemmer: Triadic Ballet, 1927 6:58
Maholy-Nagy: Light-Space-Modulator., 1922-30 1:04
John Cage: About Silence, 1991 4:17
John Cage: 4'33'' for piano, 1952 5:41
John Cage: Prepared Piano 1:12
John Cage - Water Walk, 1960 9:23
Water Walk Score
Marshall McLuhan Interview, 1967 6:32
Marshall Mcluhan Full lecture: The medium is the message - 1977 part 1 v 3 14:23
Exclusive: Intel's new smart glasses hands-on 7:15

Feb 13 / Feb 15
Lecture - Happenings & Fluxus
'Happenings' in the New York Scene - Allan Kaprow, NMR pp. 83-86.
Jim Dine: A Statement: The Car Crash Happening
Claes Oldenburg: I Am For An Art, 1961
The Cut-Up Method of Brion Gysin - William S. Burroughs, NMR pp. 89-91.
Six Selections by the Oulipo - NMR pp. 147-189 (much of this is a paper poetry machine).
Susan Sontag: An Art of Radical Juxtaposition

Further resources:
John Cage - Variations V, 1965, 2:23
Variations V, (further reading)
Inside New York's Art World: Jim Dine (specifically 3-8:00min) 28:15
Claes Oldenburg | The Store 2:34
Claes Oldenburg: Upside Down City (1962) 3:34
Allan Kaprow - How to Make a Happening, 24:51
Allan Kaprow Recent Happenings
Claes Oldenburg Reads: I Am For An Art
Robert Whitman: Performances From The 1960s -Part 2- (1963-1666) 36:28
Robert Whitman: Performances From The 1960s -Part 3- (1963-1666) 27:07
Robert Whitman: Performances From The 1960s -Part 4- (1963-1666) 16:52
Nam June Paik Buddah 1974, 0:40
Three Event Scores by George Brecht
Drip Music - George Brecht (Fluxus) 1:59
Yoko Ono: Cut Piece (video), 1965 00:56
Wolf Vostell - Sun in Your Head (Television Decollage), 1963, 7:08
George Brecht: Chance-Imagery
Joseph Beuys Talks about his Art: "Everybody is an Artist", 04:08
Beuys: How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare, 1965, 0:53
Joseph Beuys, 09:47
Who is Joseph Beuys?, 6:24
Richard Foreman: Scenes from wake up mr sleepy, your unconcious mind is dead 3:01
Extra video:
Laurie Anderson - O Superman, 1981, 8:26

Feb 20
Language of New Media, The Interface
Introduction & Chapter 1, LNM pp. 2-61.
Chapter 2, LNM pp. 62-115.

Further resources:
Blade Runner theatrical trailer, 1982
'1984' Apple Macintosh Commercial (Full advert, Hi-Quality), 1984
Eli Pariser: Beware online "filter bubbles", 2011

Feb 22
Lecture - Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.)
Introduce ideas of Live Art / Installation Experiment
The Construction of Change - Roy Ascott, NMR pp. 127-132.
Four Selections by Experiments in Art and Technology - Billy Kluver, NMR pp. 211-226.
Cybernated Art - Nam June Paik, NMR pp. 227-229.
From Software - Exhibition at the Jewish Museum, 1970, NMR pp. 247-257.

Further resources:
Jean Tinguely - Homage to New York (1960), 05:34
Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T): Nine Evenings , 09:40
Charlotte Moorman plays the TV Cello (1984) , 03:50
Nam June Paik: T.V. Bra Charlotte Moorman 1975 Swatch, 00:28
Linoleum (excerpt) Robert Rauschenberg , 1967, 04:07

Feb 27
The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction - Walter Benjamin
Thought Questions
John Berger: Ways of Seeing , Episode 1 (1972), 30:04

Mar 01
Lecture - Pop Art / Warhol Films
Andy Warhol: Warhol in His Own Words
Man-Computer Symbiosis - J.C.R. Licklider, NMR pp. 73-82.
Sketchpad: A Man-Machine Graphical Communication Systems - Ivan Sutherland, NMR pp. 109-126.

Further resources:
Alan Kay presenting Ivan Sutherland's Sketchpad 03:46
Ivan Sutherland : Sketchpad Demo (1/2) 10:35
Warhol Interview (2 min)
Andy Warhol Death And Disaster 03:21
andy warhol's silver factory 08:06
Andy Warhol - Eat (1964) sample
Andy Warhol - Empire (1964) sample
Andy Warhol on Pop Art 00:36
Andy Warhol - Blow Job (1963) 08:00
Andy Warhol - Edie Sedgwick Screen Test 01:32
Andy Warhol's TV 1979-87 01:16
Andy Warhol paints Debbie Harry on an Amiga Computer in 1985 30 seconds
Andy Warhol Eats a Hamburger
Jeff Koons- MOCA commissioned mini-documentary, 08:25
How Jeff Koons Makes Million-Dollar Art, 02:12
Vulture.com: Richard Prince’s Instagram Paintings Are Genius Trolling, Sep 2014

Mar 06
Language of New Media, The Operations
Chapter 3, LNM pp. 116-175.

Web Resources
Einsenstein: Battleship Potempkin - Odessa Steps scene, 07:27, 1925
Rybczynski: Steps, 07:11, 1987
The Great Gatsby (2013) Visual Effects Before & After Clip [HD], 03:57
This AI Creates Photo-Realistic Faces of People Who Don’t Exist, Nov 2017
Progressive Growing of GANs for Improved Quality, Stability, and Variation, 06:10 Nov 2017

Mar 08
Midterm Exam
Essay Questions

Mar 12-18
Spring Break

Mar 20
Lecture - Minimal / Conceptual Art
Joseph Kosuth: Art After Philosophy, 1969
Constituents of a Theory of the Media - Hans Magnus Enzensberger, NMR pp. 259-275
Requiem for the Media - Jean Baudrillard, NMR pp. 277-288
The Technology and the Society - Raymond Williams, NMR pp. 289-300
Project #1 is due

Further Resources:
The Atlantic: A Cultural Leap at the Dawn of Humanity, Mar 15, 2018

Uber: Self-Driving Cars & Trucks
Uber's Self-Driving Trucks Hit the Highway, but Not Local Roads, Mar 06, 2018
Pull over, Uber. This self-driving truck is driving with no one on board, Mar 08, 2018
Self-Driving Uber Car Kills Pedestrian in Arizona, Where Robots Roam, Mar 19, 2018

Cambridge Analytica
Cambridge Analytica Offered to Blackmail Politicians with Prostitutes, Mar 19, 2018
The Cambridge Analytica Files 'I made Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare tool’: meet the data war whistleblower, Mar 18, 2018
Cambridge Analytica Uncovered: Democracy, Data, Dirty Tricks, 19:12, Mar 19, 2018
Cambridge Analytica: Whistleblower reveals data grab of 50 million Facebook profiles, 16:03, Mar 17, 2018
How To Change Your Facebook Settings To Opt Out of Platform API Sharing, Mar 19, 2018

Mar 22
Lecture - Open Source / Free Culture / Net Neutrality
A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century - Donna Haraway, NMR pp. 515-542.
The GNU Manifesto - Richard Stallman, NMR pp. 543-550.

Further resources:
Richard Stallman: Introduction to Free Software and the Liberation of Cyberspace 13:38
GNU User Lib video, 2:53
Richard Stallman - Revolution OS - Birth Of GNU (1/5) 2:29
Net Neutrality Open Source Documentary, 10:26
Larry Lessig on laws that choke creativity 18:58
Creative Commons
How the Net destroyed democracy | Lawrence Lessig, 27:42, Aug 10, 2017
Jennicam: Why the First Lifecaster Disappeared from the Internet, Apr 14, 2015

Mar 27 / Mar 29
Language of New Media, The Illusions, Chapter 4, LNM pp. 176-211.
Language of New Media, The Forms, Chapter 5, LNM pp. 212-285.
Language of New Media, What is Cinema?, Chapter 6, LNM pp. 286-333.

Further resources:
What we learned from 5 million books, 14:09
Alex Roman: The Third & Seventh
Alex Roman: Compositing Breakdown (T&S)
TRON Original Movie Trailer
TRON: LEGACY Official Trailer
Jurassic Park Trailer
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer (Official)

Apr 03 / Apr 05
Lecture - Internet Art & Appropriation / Remix
Mark Tribe: Introduction to New Media Art

Proposal for Project #2 is due.
Sent via email to the Professor, by the beginning of class on Apr 03. The proposal should be no more than one page of written text, outlining the scope and goals of the project. Details will be discussed in class.

Further Resources:
Marcin Jakubowski: Open-sourced blueprints for civilization 04:11
Everything is a Remix Part 1 07:18
Everything is a Remix Part 2 09:48
Everything is a Remix Part 3 11:17

RiP! A Remix Manifesto 87:00

Apr 10 / Apr 12
The Work of Culture in the Age of Cybernetic Systems - Bill Nichols, NMR pp. 625-642.
Nomadic Power and Cultural Resistance - Critical Art Ensemble, NMR pp. 781-790.
From Computer Lib / Dream Machines - Theodor H. Nelson, NMR pp. 301-338
The World-Wide Web - Tim Berners-Lee, et. al., NMR pp. 791-798.
Responsive Environments - Myron Kruger, NMR pp. 377-390.
Will There by Condominiums in Data Space - Bill Viola, NMR pp. 463-470.

Further resources:
Tim Berners-Lee on the next Web 16:20
Tim Berners-Lee: The year open data went worldwide 05:34
Living in a computer simulation:
Wikipedia: Simulation hypothesis
Scientific America: Are We Living in a Computer Simulation?
Do we live in a computer simulation? UW researchers say idea can be tested
Bill Viola:
Bill Viola: Video Black - The Mortality of the Image, 1990
Wikipedia: Bill Viola
Bill Viola - An Ocean Without a Shore, 3:28
Bill Viola: Tristan's Ascension, 5:13
Bill Viola: Cameras are soul keepers, 28:09

Apr 17
Raspberry Pi - Network Demo & The Blockchain
PdF 2011 | Eben Moglen: The alternate net we need, and how we can build it ourselves , 15:12
FreedomBox Foundation

Apr 19
Video Games and Computer Holding Power - Sherry Turkle, NMR pp. 499-514.
The Six Elements and the Causal Relations Among Them &
Star Raiders: Dramatic Interaction in a Small World - Brenda Laurel, NMR pp. 563-573.

Further resources:
PDP-1 Running Spacewar!
Star Wars Battlefront Game Trailer (2015)
Dire Straits - Money For Nothing (1985)
Peter Gabriel - Sledgehammer (1986)
A-Ha - Take On Me (1985)

Apr 24
Project #2 is due
Presentations of Project #2

Apr 26
Presentations of Project #2

May 01
Presentations of Project #2

May 03
Presentations of Project #2

May 10, — 8am-10am
University Scheduled Final
Final Essay Question

Reading Presentations

Students are required to develop an outline of the themes and arguments of specific readings, as well as create at least three thought questions which will then be used to lead class discussion. Each student should schedule a meeting with the Professor well in advance of the presentation to receive feedback as you continue to develop this material. Email a final PDF copy to rspahr@siu.edu at least 24 hrs before the day of the class discussion.

Scheduled Reading Presentations

Project 1: New Media Critique / Analysis

Explore the artbase at http://www.rhizome.org/ and the artists at http://www.furtherfield.org/ and choose one work of new media art for analysis in the context of our readings and discussion.

Be sure to describe this work, before you analyze and interpret. How has the artist used interactivity and the user interface to enhance the viewer's experience? What is this piece about? What is the subject of this piece? How does this piece address the viewer? Does this work create the illusion of reality? How does it represent space and/or time? What ideas and concepts from the history of new media seem to engage this artist? Support your argument with specific reference to the ideas and concepts from our readings and discussions.

Write a minimum 1000 word, 4 printed pages, double spaced essay outlining your analysis.

Project 2: The Language of New Media

Select a chapter from 'The Language of New Media' by Lev Manovich. Prepare a research paper/web site (approx. 10 pages, with citations from at least 5 of our readings) or an art project based in reference to the chapter's themes. The final form of this project is open-ended. Potential themes include:

  • How Media Became New
  • Principles of New Media
  • What New Media Is Not
  • The Language of Cultural Interfaces
  • The Screen and the User
  • Menus, Filters, Plug-Ins
  • Compositing
  • Teleaction
  • Synthetic Realism and its Discontents
  • The Synthetic Image and its Subject
  • Illusion, Narrative, and Interactivity
  • The Database
  • Navigable Space
  • Digital Cinema and the History of a Moving Image
  • The New Language of Cinema

You will be graded on the originality of concept, delivery (execution of the concept) and the effort of your execution. You may use any form, methods or technologies: consult me if you have any questions regarding the appropriateness of your project. More details on this project will be discussed in class.

Students will give a presentation of this paper / project to the class.


Your final grade will be determined by the following:

  • 15% Participation/Reading Discussions/Pop Quizzes
  • 15% Project #1
  • 30% Project #2
  • 20% Midterm Exam
  • 20% Final Exam

I may occasionally give a pop quiz on that weeks readings. There will also be a midterm and final examination. The final exam will not be cumulative. It will cover only the materials of the second half of the semester. The midterm and final exams will cover the required readings and material presented in the lectures / discussions. The examinations will be of a series of short essay questions.

Attendance to all classes is expected. You are allowed up to TWO unexcused absences. Unexcused absence beyond this threshold may result in failing this course.

All assignments are due at the beginning of class. Late assignments will not be accepted.

SIU Syllabus Attachment

SIU Syllabus Attachment - Spring 2018 - PDF