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Information and Syllabus

History of New Media -- CIN 441

Location: Comm 1251
Time: T R 03:35pm-04:50pm

Professor: Robert Spahr
Contact: rspahr@siu.edu
Office: Comm 1056B
Office Hours:
M  11:00am-12:00pm
T   01:00pm-03:00pm
W  11:00am-12:00pm
R   01:00pm-03:00pm
& by appointment

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

Course Listings:
History of New Media - 64554 - CIN441 - 001

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.


Aug 17
Introductions, Course Overview, What is New Media?
Lecture - Speedviewer's Guide to New Media
Assignment: #HashTagExercise

Further resources:
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
Gizmodo: UPS Has Been Delivering Cargo in Self-Driving Trucks for Months And No One Knew Aug 15, 2019
Autonomous Truck Drives in a Storm, Hub to Hub, Zero Disengagements Oct 30, 2018
BigDog Overview (Updated March 2010), 03:25
GNU User Lib video, 2:53
Laura Poitras: NYTimes, The Program, 08:27 Aug 22, 2012
Sebastian Deterding: What your designs say about you, 12:24

Aug 19
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.
Tzara: Dada Manifesto, 1918
The Death of the Public Square, Franklin Foer, Jul 6, 2018

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
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
Eli Pariser: Beware online "filter bubbles" 09:04, 2011
Coca-Cola, 1971 - 'Hilltop' | "I'd like to buy the world a Coke", 0:59
Mad Men "I'd like to buy the world a Coke" series finale, Coca Cola TV ad, 01:53

Aug 24 / Aug 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 Aug 25.

Further resources:
First Computer Bug - Grace Hopper, 1947
Eisenhower warns us of the military industrial complex, 1961
Kevin Slavin: How algorithms shape our world, 15:23 Jul 2011
Hundreds of newly created Twitter accounts pushed #ReleaseTheMemo, Jan 24, 2018
NPR: Just 12 People Are Behind Most Vaccine Hoaxes On Social Media, Research Shows, May 14, 2021

Aug 30 / Sep 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.

Further resources:
Original announcement of Douglas Engelbart's 1968 Demo
Douglas Engelbart: the first computer mouse, Dec 09, 1968
Douglas Engelbart: 1968 Demo - Highlights, 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
Alan Kay, 2013: Interview, 33:08

Sep 07
The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility - 2nd Version - Walter Benjamin, 1936
Thought Questions
John Berger: Ways of Seeing , Episode 1 (1972), 30:04

Sep 09
Lecture - Bauhaus & John Cage & Marshall McLuhan
Experimental Music - John Cage, 1957
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
Excerpt - Larry Lessig Remix 2007 TED (Creative Commons) 10:25
Marshall Mcluhan Full lecture: The medium is the message - 1977 part 1 v 3 14:23

Sep 14
Class is cancelled. Please attend The Yes Men - public lecture.

The Yes Men Fix the World, 01:25:02

Visiting Artists: The Yes Men - public lecture
Location: Student Center Auditorium at 07:00PM


Sep 16
Lecture - Happenings & Fluxus
'Happenings' in the New York Scene - Allan Kaprow, NMR pp. 83-86.
The Cut-Up Method of Brion Gysin - William S. Burroughs, NMR pp. 89-91.
Susan Sontag: An Art of Radical Juxtaposition

Further resources:
Claes Oldenburg: I Am For An Art, 1961
Claes Oldenburg Reads: I Am For An Art
Jim Dine: A Statement: The Car Crash Happening
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
The Case for Performance Art | The Art Assignment, 09:10
BUTTER + EGGS = ART, sometimes | The Art Assignment, 13:40
John Cage - Variations V, 1965, 2:23
Variations V, (further reading)
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-I liked america and america likes me, 1974, 03:08
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

Sep 21
Language of New Media, The Interface
Introduction & Chapter 1, LNM pp. 2-61.
Chapter 2, LNM pp. 62-115.

Further resources:
Vertov's Man with a Movie Camera, 1929, 1:06:40
Blade Runner theatrical trailer, 1982
'1984' Apple Macintosh Commercial (Full advert, Hi-Quality), 1984

Sep 23
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
Nam June Paik: T.V. Bra Charlotte Moorman 1975 Swatch, 00:28
5 Times Artist Nam June Paik Predicted the Future | Tate, 04:24
Linoleum (excerpt) Robert Rauschenberg , 1967, 04:07

Sep 28 / Sep 30
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 19:19
Warhol Interview (2 min) 01:55
Andy Warhol Death And Disaster 03:21
andy warhol's silver factory 08:06
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
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

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

Further 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, 05:43, Feb 23, 2018
(GAN stands for “generative adversarial network,” and it’s a system that uses two neural networks — one generates things and the other evaluates them. These algorithms are capable of generating artificial “photos” that look real to humans.)

What is the Cambridge Analytica scandal?, 03:40, March 20, 2018
Facebook's role in Brexit — and the threat to democracy | Carole Cadwalladr, 15:15, June 10, 2019
Facebook is Weaker Than We Knew, Oct 04, 2021
Facebook Whistleblower Frances Haugen: The 60 Minutes Interview, 13:36, Oct 03, 2021

Oct 07
Midterm Exam
Essay Questions

Oct 12
Performance Workshop - Part 1
In collaboration with the students in
'Fluxus and Happenings: Action-based Art in the 1960's' - AD 497C & AD 507
Dr. Laurel Fredrickson

Oct 14
Performance Workshop - Part 2
In collaboration with the students in
'Fluxus and Happenings: Action-based Art in the 1960's' - AD 497C & AD 507
Dr. Laurel Fredrickson

Oct 19 / Oct 21
Language of New Media, The Illusions, Chapter 4, LNM pp. 176-211.
Language of New Media, The Forms, Chapter 5, LNM pp. 212-285.

Further resources:
What we learned from 5 million books, 14:09
Alex Roman: The Third & Seventh
Alex Roman: Compositing Breakdown (T&S)
The Great Gatsby (2013) Visual Effects Before & After Clip [HD]
TRON Original Movie Trailer
TRON: LEGACY Official Trailer
Jurassic Park Trailer
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer (Official)
Full Cast & Crew of Blade Runner 2049
Notre-Dame de Paris - Timeline of Construction
Vuk Cosic's ASCII series - The Birds

Oct 26
Lecture - Internet Art & Appropriation / Remix
Language of New Media, What is Cinema?, Chapter 6, LNM pp. 286-333.
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 Oct 26th. 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 Remastered 37:30
RiP! A Remix Manifesto 87:00
Sabine Hossenfelder - Quantum Supremacy: What is it and what does it mean?, 06:22
Quantum Supremacy & AI, with Stephen Fry, 12:12
Quantum Supremacy Explained, 08:29
William Kentridge – ‘Art Must Defend the Uncertain’ | Artist Interview, 06:09
More than a hologram: Star Wars-inspired tech you can buy right now, 05:31
Photosynth 2: Exploring 3D environments | Blaise Aguera Y Arcas, 08:16

Oct 28
Class is canceled.
Please schedule a time to meet with me during my office hours or by appointment to discuss one-on-one your project proposal.

Nov 02
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.
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
Richard Stallman: A radical proposal to keep your personal data safe, Apr 03, 2018
The Guardian: Researchers develop device that can 'hear' your internal voice, Apr 06, 2018
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
Agnes Martin:
Art I Can't Show You, 07:00

Nov 04
Lecture - Free & Open Source Software / 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:
The Decentralized Web Is Coming, 11:57, Sep 27,2019
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

Nov 09
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!
WarGames Clip - Malvin & Jim (1983), 2:56
WarGames Clip - WOPR described (1983), 1:46
WarGames Clip - Dr. Stephen Falken (1983), 4:18
Star Wars Battlefront Game Trailer (2015)
GOD OF WAR 4 New Trailer (2018)
Birdman - Flight Scene
Dire Straits - Money For Nothing (1985)
Peter Gabriel - Sledgehammer (1986)
A-Ha - Take On Me (1985)

Nov 11
Veterans Day - Campus Holiday

Nov 16

Nov 18

Nov 20 - Nov 28
Thanksgiving Vacation

Nov 30

Dec 02

Wednesday Dec 08 - 8:00am-10:00am - University Scheduled Final
No Class Meeting
Please email the instructor a two page self-reflection in PDF format, on how the course History of New Media has affected your thinking and process as a media artist. Due by email no later than 10:00am today.

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.


Masks are required on the SIUC campus and in our classrooms. We will follow the mandated guidelines established by the university. Should the conditions change and we need to work remotely, I will work on transitioning our class to a hybrid online format. Further information on the SIU policy on COVID-19: https://siu.edu/coronavirus/

SIU Syllabus Attachment

SIU Syllabus Attachment - Fall '21 - PDF