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Information and Syllabus

Explorations in Live Art - Spring '13

Days: M W
Time: 11:00am - 12:50pm
Building: MCMA
Classroom: Communications 1116

Professor: Robert Spahr
Contact: rspahr@siu.edu
Office: MCMA 1121E

Office Hours: M T W 1:00pm-3:00pm & by appointment

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

Course Listings:
Advanced Experimental Strategies: Live Art - 23309 - CP 473 - 001
Media Arts Studio Seminar - Live Art - MCMA 543 001

Suggested Text:

Goldberg, Roselee. Performance Art: From Futurism to the Present Thames & Hudson World of Art
* All other readings will be distributed in class or available online. *


This course exposes students to the history of performance art as an open-ended medium, executed by artists impatient with the limitations of more traditional art, and determined to take their interdisciplinary message directly to the public.

For this course we will define performance simply as live art by artists. Students will draw on any number of disciplines and media for material, such as visual art, literature, theater, poetry, music, dance, and installation art as well as video, film, and the Internet. Each student will keep a journal to record his or her thoughts and responses to the semester's work, and use the journal to identify their strengths as artists and areas they may want to explore for future development.

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have used historical texts, theoretical writings, analysis and ensemble work to better understand the history of performance art and the various forms it takes. Students will have further developed their own media art practice by creating individual and group performance pieces, which will be presented to the public in an evening of Live Art.


Be sure to check back often for any updated information.

Photos from The Banquet

Jan 14
Introduction and overview of Live Art
Selected Performances
Some Strategies of Live Art

Jan 16
Luigi Russolo: The Art of Noises, July 1, 1913. (Listen to Intonarumori)
F. T. Marinetti: The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism, February 20, 1909
Valentine de Saint-Point: Futurist Manifesto of Lust, January 11, 1913

Suggested further reading:
A Collection of Futurist Manifestos
F.T. Marinetti, et al: The Futurist Cinema, November 15, 1916.
F.T. Marinetti, et al: The Futurist Synthetic Theatre, February 18th, 1915.
Futurism (art)

Assignment: Exercise One

Jan 21
Martin Luther King Jr. Day - No Class Meeting

Jan 23
Open Studio
Exercise One is due. - Critique

Assignment: Exercise Two

Jan 28
Russian Futurism & Constructivism
Eisenstein: Montage in 1938

Jan 30
Open Studio
John Cage: 10 Rules for Students and Teachers
Steve Reich:Come Out
Steve Reich: Drumming (Part 1)
Steve Reich - South Bank Show - Part 1
Steve Reich - South Bank Show - Part 2
Bonobo : Cirrus [Official Video]
Kutiman-Thru-you - 01 - Mother of All Funk Chords
Kutiman-Thru-you - 03 - I'm New

Feb 04
Open Studio
Selected Performances

Feb 06
Exercise Two is due. - Critique

Feb 11
Exercise Two - Critique continued

Feb 13
Dada, Surrealism & Bauhaus
Tzara: Dada Manifesto 1918
Antonin Artaud: Theatre of Cruelty (First Manifesto) 1964
Film: Four Films by Four Artists
Audio: Duchamp / Huelsenbeck
Oldenburg: I Am For An Art
Selected Performances

Feb 18
Open Studio

Feb 20
Open Studio
Inside New York's Art World: Jim Dine 28:15

Feb 25
Project #1 Presentations - Critique
Journals are due.

Feb 27
Project #1 Presentations - Critique

Mar 04
Project #1 Presentations - Critique
Will 3D Printing Change the World? | Off Book | PBS , 07:23

Mar 06
Happenings / Media Generation
Allan Kaprow: How To Make A Happening (1968)
Jim Dine: A Statement: The Car Crash Happening
Kaprow: Some Recent Happenings (including one here at SIU)
George Brecht: Chance-Imagery

Mar 11
Spring Break

Mar 13
Spring Break

Mar 18
Open Studio

Mar 20
Open Studio

Mar 25
Open Studio

Mar 27
Open Studio

Apr 01
Open Studio - Developing Group Project

Apr 03
Open Studio - Developing Group Project

Apr 08
Open Studio

Apr 10
Open Studio

Apr 15
Walkthrough rehearsal for Live Art Event

Apr 17
Technical rehearsal for Live Art Event

Live Art Event - Invited Public Presentation
TBD - Possible dates: Apr 18, 19, 20, 21???

Apr 22
Project #2 Presentations/Critique, final documentation of projects due.
Journals are due.

Apr 24
Project #2 Presentations/Critique - continued.

Apr 29
Project #2 Presentations/Critique - continued.

May 01
Project #2 Presentations/Critique - continued.

May 07
FINAL - 12:50-2:50 - Final documentation of project #2 is due.

Performance Projects: Two Individual & One Group Project

Two Individual Performances
Each student will develop and present two original performance projects. You will have the opportunity to present projects as works in progress during Open Studio time, and again as a final performance; dates are listed in the course schedule. After the first showing for each performance, you will receive feedback from the class and myself. You will then have time to continue your work on the performance for a final showing.

One Group Performance - An evening of Live Art for the public.
A group collaborative performance will be developed in the class. This performance will be created and structured by the group, and will be the "container" for each students two individual performances projects. This group performance (containing the individual projects) will then be performed as a complete evening of Live Art for the general public. Date and location TBA.

Sample Project: Sound Machine, Performance and Score

Projects can be documented on any suitable medium, CD, VHS, DV, or DVD.


The work in this course requires motivation, exploration, risk-taking, and most importantly, an openness to new ideas. Attendance is required because much of the work is collaborative. Attendance and promptness are mandatory. The grading policy of this class is meant to encourage you to explore new ideas and take chances. Do not think in terms of "What must I do to receive an A grade", but think in terms of what you would like to learn.

All assignments and projects are due at the beginning of class.

Attendence to all classes is expected. There are no acceptable number of absences. More than two unexcused absences may result in failure for the class. Two lates are the equivalent of one absence. Leaving a class early is considered equivalent to arriving late.

Journal/Sketchbook: Each student will respond to the class readings, their own performance projects, and any recorded performances we watch in the class. Students should also document their creative process, and artistic development within the journal. Think of the journal as a resource, to contain your present ideas and hints of future directions to explore.

Each Performance Project will be graded on artistic, creative and intellectual merit.

Grades will be based on the following:

  • Originality of concept
  • Delivery (execution of the concept)
  • Documentation
  • Process
  • Craft
  • Critique & participation

Your final grade will be determined by the following:

  • 20% Participation/Lab Exercises
  • 10% Journal/Sketchbook
  • 25% Project #1
  • 25% Project #2
  • 20% Group Project

Web Resources:

Creative Commons

Creative Commons Filmmaking - A Swarm Of Angels remixes modern cinema

Paul Graham: Taste For Makers

Final Cut Pro 5 User Manual

Aspen: The Multimedia Magazine in a Box

Dadaism by Tristan Tzara


The Fluxus Home Page

Paul Graham: Taste for Makers

Electronic Arts Intermix

Building Emergency Response Protocols

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.

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

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. 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.

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. 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.

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.

This spring semester we are in the planning stages of a Shooter in the Building Drill.

When it is safe to leave, move to a safe area far from the building away from where the shooter is located.  If anyone has any information about the shooter, please contact the police after you are a safe distance away.  If someone cannot leave, go into a room, lock the door, turn out the lights, and if possible, cover the glass on the door. Students chair desks should be piled in front of the glass and door as a barricade and the teacher's desk, podium and anything movable can be pushed against the door. This is intended to slow down any attempts to enter or look into the classroom. If it looks like the shooter is persistent and able to enter, make a lot of noise and use everything in your backpacks to throw at the shooter to distract him.

Silence all cell phones after one person in the room calls the police and informs them of their location and how many people are in the room. 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 people are hiding in.   For this 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.  

In the event of an earthquake, you are advised to take cover quickly under heavy furniture or crouch near an interior wall or corner and cover your head 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.