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Information and Syllabus

History of New Media -- Spring '15

Location: Comm 1122
Time: T R 11:00am-12:15pm

Professor: Robert Spahr
Contact: rspahr@siu.edu
Office: MCMA 1121E
Office Hours:
T  12:30pm-1:30pm
W  11:00am-3:00pm
R  12:30pm-1:30pm
& by appointment

Teaching Assistant: Jenny Johnson
Contact: jennyjohnson@siu.edu
Office Hours:
T  2:00pm-3:00pm in the New Media Center
& by appointment

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

Course Listings:
History of New Media - 27409 - CP 361 - 001
Adv Topics: Cinema Studies - History of New Media - 27410 -CP 470A 002
History Theory Media Art: History of New Media - 28182 -MCMA 552 002

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


Further Reading:

Mark Tribe: Introduction to New Media Art

Packer, Randall & Jordan, Ken. Multimedia From Wagner to Virtual Reality. New Yok, NY, W. W. Norton & Company   Online: Multimedia From Wagner to Virtual Reality

Bolter, Jay David & Grusin, Richard. Remediation: Understanding 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 20
Introductions, Course Overview, What is New Media?
Darth Vader Feels Blue, 1:46
Meet Amazon's robot army, 1:38
GNU User Lib video, 2:53
BigDog Overview (Updated March 2010), 03:35
The Great Gatsby (2013) Visual Effects Before & After Clip [HD], 3:57
USAF MQ-1 Predator Drone Engage Insurgents & Insurgent Vehicle. Afghanistan, 3:05
PressTV News (Iranian Intl News Network): US drone strike kills 5 in Pakistan's tribal region, 3:25
Casey Neistat: Snapchat Murders Facebook, 5:46
Sebastian Deterding: What your designs say about you, 12:24

Jan 22
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

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", 1936 (Part 1) 09:13
Joseph Cornell's "Rose Hobart", 1936 (Part 2) 09:30
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
Microsoft Unveils HoloLens and Surface Hub at Windows 10 Conference, Jan 21, 2015

Jan 27 / Jan 29
Lecture - Speedviewer's Guide to New Media
As We May Think - Vannevar Bush, NMR pp. 35-47. ('As We May Think' is also available online.)
Computing Machinery and Intelligence - Alan Turing, NMR pp. 49-64.
Men, Machines, and the World About - Norbert Wiener, NMR pp. 65-72.

Further resources:
Kevin Kelly on the next 5,000 days of the web, 19:34, Dec 2007
Laura Poitras: NYTimes, The Program, 08:27 Aug 22, 2012
Kevin Slavin: How algorithms shape our world, 15:23 Jul 2011

Feb 03 / Feb 05
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.

Assignment: #HashTagExercise

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, Mar 2007
Clay Shirky: Why SOPA is a bad idea, 14:00
Kodak’s 1975 Model Digital Camera, NYTimes.com, August, 2010

Feb 06 -------------------------> EXTRA CREDIT

Film Fridays
Comm 1116 @ 5pm
The Mill and the Cross (2011)
Director: Lech Majewski
The film focuses on a dozen of the 500 characters depicted in Bruegel's painting. The theme of Christ's suffering is set against religious persecution in Flanders in 1564.
The film is based upon Pieter Bruegel's The Way to Calvary

Feb 10 / Feb 12
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

#HashTagExercise is due

Further resources:
Schlemmer: Triadic Ballet, 1927 2:11
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
Marshall McLuhan Interview, 1967 6:32
Marshall Mcluhan Full lecture: The medium is the message - 1977 part 1 v 3 14:23

Feb 17
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).

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
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
Ubuweb: 37 Short Fluxus Films
Nam June Paik Buddah 1974, 0:40
Three Event Scores by George Brecht
Drip Music - George Brecht (Fluxus) 1:59
Yoko Ono "Cut Piece" Performance Art, 1965, 2:28
Wolf Vostell - Sun in Your Head (Television Decollage), 1963, 7:08
George Brecht: Chance-Imagery
Beuys: How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare, 1965, 0:53
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 19
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 24
Lecture - Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.)
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 26
Big Muddy Film Festival: Nia Burks' Media Pot Luck Workshop
Guest Professor: Dr. Michele Leigh & Digital Muddy Juror and Digital Artist: Nia Burks

Exploration in using the digital hand/trace/presence/evidence in an experiment in presence of the artist, in the creation of work focused on journey rather that object/relic of journey. That ephemerality is central and temporality is as well. That documentation suggests a trace of movement and the piece created is constantly plunging into the past, too large to be contained.

Students please bring sounds, images and objects, to do a live art performance / install. Cords and connection gizmos will be essential. We will meet in our regular classroom, Comm 1122, please arrive promptly by 11am.

Mar 03
Lecture - Pop Art / Warhol Films
Man-Computer Symbiosis - J.C.R. Licklider, NMR pp. 73-82.
Sketchpad: A Man-Machine Graphical Communication Systems - Ivan Sutherland, NMR pp. 109-126.
Direct Manipulation: A Step Beyond Programming Languages - Ben Schneiderman, NMR pp. 485-498.

Further resources:
Alan Kay presenting Ivan Sutherland's Sketchpad 04:18
Ivan Sutherland : Sketchpad Demo (1/2) 10:35
Warhol Interview (2 min)
Andy Warhol - Velvet Underground (Documentary) 04:48
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 01:42
Warhol Eats a Hamburger + Youtube
Andy Warhol Eats a Hamburger
Video Response 1: Andy Warhol Eats a Hamburger
Video Response 2: Andy Warhol Eats a Hamburger
Video Response 3: Andy Warhol Eats a Hamburger

Mar 05
Language of New Media, The Operations
Chapter 3, LNM pp. 116-175.

Mar 09-13
Spring Break

Mar 17
Lecture - Minimal / Conceptual Art
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
A File Structure for the Complex, the Changing, and the Indeterminate - Theodor H. Nelson, NMR pp. 133-145.

Mar 19
Midterm Exam
Essay Questions

Project #1 is due

Mar 24
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 - 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

Mar 26

Mar 31 / Apr 02
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 Alex Roman: The Third & Seventh
Alex Roman: Compositing Breakdown (T&S)

Apr 07 / Apr 09
Lecture - Relational Aesthetics & The New Aesthetic
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.
Bruce Sterling: An Essay on the New Aesthetic
#SXAESTHETIC, Report from Austin, Texas, on the New Aesthetic panel at SXSW. 3/15/12

Apr 14 / Apr 16
Lecture - Internet Art & Appropriation / Remix
Proposal for Project #2 is due via email by the beginning of class on Apr 7th.
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
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

Suggested Viewing:
RiP! A Remix Manifesto 87:00

Apr 21
Lecture - Relational Aesthetics & The New Aesthetic
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.
Bruce Sterling: An Essay on the New Aesthetic
#SXAESTHETIC, Report from Austin, Texas, on the New Aesthetic panel at SXSW. 3/15/12

Apr 23
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!
Dire Straits - Money For Nothing (1985)
Peter Gabriel - Sledgehammer (1986)
A-Ha - Take On Me (1985)

Apr 28
Project #2 is due
Presentations of Project #2

Apr 30
Presentations of Project #2

May 05
Presentations of Project #2

May 07
Presentations of Project #2

May 14
Final Exam @ 10:15am-12:15pm
Final Essay Question

Reading Presentations

Students will develop an outline of the themes and arguments of specific readings, as well as create several thought questions which will then be used to lead class discussion. Each student should schedule a meeting well in advance with the class TA, Jenny Johnson, so that she can give you feedback as you continue to develop this materia. A written copy will be due 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.

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 page 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.

Students taking this course for graduate credit will have additional requirements for this project to be discussed individually with the professor.


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.

Building Emergency Response Protocols

University's Emergency Procedure Clause: Southern Illinois University Carbondale is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for study and work. Because some health and safety circumstances are beyond our control, we ask that you become familiar with the SIUC Emergency Response Plan and Building Emergency Response Team (BERT) program. Emergency response information is available on posters in buildings on campus, available on BERT's website at www.bert.siu.edu, Department of Public Safety's website www.dps.siu.edu (disaster drop down) and in the Emergency Response Guideline pamphlet. Know how to respond to each type of emergency.

Instructors will provide guidance and direction to students in the classroom in the event of an emergency affecting your location. It is important that you follow these instructions and stay with your instructor during an evacuation or sheltering emergency. The Building Emergency Response Team will provide assistance to your instructor in evacuating the building or sheltering within the facility.

Disabled Students: Instructors and students in the class will work together as a team to assist disabled students out of the building safely. Disabled students will stay with the instructor and communicate with the instructor what is the safest way to assist them.

Tornado: During the spring semester we have a Storm Drill. Pick up your belongings and your instructor will lead you to a safe area of the basement. No one will be allowed to stay upstairs. Stay away from windows. The drill should not last more than 10 minutes. You must stay with your instructor so he/she can take roll calls. Students need to be quiet in the basement as the BERT members are listening to emergency instructions on handheld radios and cannot hear well in the basement.

Fire: During the fall semester we have a Fire Drill. Pick up your belongings and your instructor will lead you to either the North or South parking lot depending on what part of the building your class is in. You must stay with your instructor so he/she can take roll calls. As soon as the building is all clear, you will be allowed to return to class. These drills are to train instructors and the Building Emergency Response Team to get everyone to a safe place during an emergency.

Bomb Threat: If someone calls in a bomb threat, class will be suspended and students will be asked to pick up their belongings, evacuate the building and leave the premises. Do not leave anything that is yours behind. We will not allow anyone back into the building until the police and bomb squad give us an all clear. DO NOT USE YOUR CELL PHONES. Some bombs are triggered by a cell phone signal.

Shooter in the Building: When it is safe to leave, move to a safe area far from the building where the shooter is located.  If you have any information about the shooter, please contact the police after you return home.  If you cannot leave, go into a room, lock the door, turn out the lights, and if possible, cover the glass on the door. Silence all cell phones after you call the police and inform them of your location. Be quiet and wait for the police to arrive.  The police are looking for one or more shooters, and they have no way of knowing if the shooter is in the room with you.   For that reason, when the police enter the room, no one should have anything in his/her hands and each person MUST raise his/her hands above his/her head.  

Earthquake: In the event of an earthquake you are advised to take cover quickly under heavy furniture or near an interior wall, a corner, to avoid falling debris. Outside the building are trees and power lines and debris from the building itself that you will need to stay away from. In the building, large open areas like auditoriums are the most dangerous. Do not try to escape on a stairway or elevator. Do not hide under a stairway. We do not recommend that you stand in a doorway because the door could shut from the vibrations and crush your fingers trapping you there.

Women's Self-Defense Class: For interested female students and female faculty and staff, the SIU Public Safety Department sets up free self-defense classes. The SIU Public Safety Department will be teaching this class. They teach a free class in the fall and spring at the Rec Center. In the fall you would register at the Rec Center for the Women's Self-Defense Class or RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) as it is sometimes called. If you have questions about registering for the class, you can send an email to lavong@siu.edu. LaVon is the contact in the Dean's Office in the Communications building that will assist you to try to find the class you need.