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Information and Syllabus

Live Art: Media Arts & Interactivity

Professor: Robert Spahr
Contact: rspahr@siu.edu
Office: Northwest Annex, B213

Office Hours:
T R  9:00am-12:00pm
& by appointment

M W @ 01:00pm-02:50pm - Comm 1116, (additional space in New Media Center)

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

Course Information:
Live Art: Media Art and Interactivity - CP 470D 001

Required Text:

Undergraduate and Graduate students, CP 470D:

Printed Version:
Shelly, Mary. FRANKENSTEIN; or, The Modern Prometheus (Original Uncensored 1818 Edition)
Electronic Version:
Mary Shelly: Frankenstein, 1818 edition Free Download.

Graduate Students:
Saffer, Dan DESIGNING FOR INTERACTION Creating Smart Applications and Clever Devices New Riders.(2nd Edition)

All other required reading materials will be provided by the instructor.


This course exposes students to the possiblities of interactivity within the media arts by exploring the history and theory of live art. We will look at the origins of performance art and the freedom and control that computer code and emerging networked media provides while focusing on interactivity and non-linear storytelling. A goal of this course will be to move beyond seeing the computer as a tool of production, but rather the beginning of a complete networked system. Students will be encouraged to discover new modes of expression with the computer and the network seen not as a tool, but as a medium.

For this interdisciplinary course we will define performance simply as live art by artists. We will draw on any number of disciplines and media for material, such as visual art, literature, theater, poetry, music, dance, and installation as well as video and film. Students will also look to Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), the Internet, computer science and information systems to further develop their media arts practice.


  • Increase knowledge relevant to the analysis and history of media arts, interactivity and the Internet as well as explore relationships among design, technology, and user experience.
  • Develop technical skills for creating and analyzing media arts and interactivity by developing computational art, interface behaviours and navigation systems and live art performance.
  • Develop an awareness of the creative process as it applies to media arts practice.


Be sure to check back often for any updated information.

Jan 18
Nick Bostrom: What happens when our computers get smarter than we are?, 16:31
John Cage: 10 Rules for Students and Teachers
Speed Viewers Guide to New Media
Assign: Interaction Observation Exercise

Jan 23
HTML & CSS Style Basics
Read: Vannevar Bush: As We May Think, Jul 1945
Lecture: Internet & Basic HTML5
Lecture: CSS Basics
Code Example: Basic HTML template
Interaction Observation exercise is due.

Free/Open Source Software for Live Art
Setup SIU website space

Jan 25
Open Source / Free Software
Read: Jeff Tyson: How Internet Infrastructure Works

Jan 30
Images, Typography, & Multimedia
Lecture: Multimedia

Feb 01
Advanced Layout CSS
Lecture: CSS layout
Assign: exercise one

Feb 06
Open Studio

Feb 08
Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus
Read: Mary Shelley: Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus (Original Uncensored 1818 Edition)
Exercise one is due.
Assign: Project One

Feb 13
Open Studio
FTP and SIU Web Space
Resources: Setup SIU website space

Feb 15
Critique - Project One: Net.Art is due.
Please upload both Exercise One and Project One to your SIU web space.

Feb 20
Lecture: Futurism, Dada & Bauhaus
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)
Resources: Selected Live Art

Feb 22
Dada, Surrealism & Bauhaus
Tzara: Dada Manifesto 1918
Antonin Artaud: Theatre of Cruelty (First Manifesto) 1964
Film: Four Films by Four Artists
Audio: Duchamp / Huelsenbeck
Juxtaposition & Simultaniety

Feb 27
Critique - Exercise Juxtaposition & Simultaniety

Mar 01
Inside New York's Art World: Jim Dine 28:15
Oldenburg: I Am For An Art
Jim Dine: Car Crash Happening
George Brecht: Chance-Imagery
Mashups, Generative Processes & Chance

Mar 06
Critique - Exercise Mashups, Generative Processes & Chance

Visiting Artist: Christopher Harris at 6:30PM, Guyon Aditorium at Morris Library. Harris' award-winning films include a long take look at a post-industrial urban landscape; an optically printed and hand-processed film about black outlaws; a pinhole film about the cosmic consequences of the sun’s collapse...

Mar 08
Open Studio
Susan Sontag - Happenings: An Art of Radical Juxtaposition

Mar 13-17    Spring Break

Mar 20
Open Studio

Mar 22
Open Studio

Mar 23
Visiting Artist

Hannah Higgins
Guyon Auditorium at 7:00 p.m.
This will be free and open to the public.

Professor Hannah B. Higgins has been teaching at UIC since 1994. Her research and course topics examine twentieth century avant-garde art with a specific interest in Dadaism, Surrealism, Fluxus, Happenings, performance art, food art and early computer art. Her books and articles argue for the humanistic value of multimodal aesthetic experiences.

Higgins is solo author of Fluxus Experience (University of California Press, 2002) and The Grid Book (MIT Press, 2009) and co-editor of with Douglas Kahn of Mainframe Experimentalism: Early Computing and the Foundations of Digital Art (University of California Press, 2012). She has received the UIC University Scholar Award, DAAD, Getty and Philips Collection Fellowships and is co-executor of the Estate of Dick Higgins and the Something Else Press.

Mar 27
Developing Group Performance / Exhibit

Mar 29
Developing Group Performance / Exhibit

Apr 03
Developing Group Performance / Exhibit / Project Two
Journals are due.

Apr 05
Public Presentation - 'Frankenstein' Performance / Exhibit

Apr 10
Class is Cancelled
Performance of Mary's Creature, 4/10 & 4/11 6-8pm in Comm room 1017

Apr 12
Open Studio
Assign Project Three

Apr 17
Guest Lecture/Discussion: Dr. Jyotsna Kapur
Class meets back in Comm 1116

Apr 19
Open Studio
Bring a Laptop to class.
Graduate Students in MCMA 512
Dan Saffer: DESIGNING FOR INTERACTION Creating Smart Applications and Clever Devices

Apr 24
Open Studio
Bring a Laptop to class.

Apr 26
Open Studio

May 01
Final Critique - Project Three is due.
Journals are due.

May 03
Final Critique - Project Three

May 12
FINAL - 12:30-2:30 - Final documentation of all work is due.

Three Individual Projects & One Group Live Art Event

Three Individual Projects
In addition to class exercises each student will complete Three Individual Projects. During the semester we may look at some works-in-progress during Open Studio time. Details regarding the requirements for each of these three assignments will be discussed in detail on the day that they are assigned. The second and third project will be informed by our discussions of the themes and issues in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein as they relate to our contemporary challenges living in a world of rapidly changing technology. All projects must be documented in a suitable medium. Documentation will be collected at the final class meeting.

Please Note:
Students in MCMA 512 will have a different Project Three from the students in CP 470D
MCMA 512 - Project Three

One Group Live Art Event & Exhibition for the public.
A group exhibition and event will be organized by the class. This live art event will be created and structured by the group, and informed by our discussions of the themes and issues in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein as they relate to our contemporary challenges living in a world of rapidly changing technology. This Live Art event will be presented to the general public. Exact date and location TBD.


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 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 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/Studio Exercises
  • 10% Journal/Sketchbook
  • 20% Project #1
  • 20% Project #2
  • 20% Project #3
  • 10% Group Project

Web Resources:

Creative Commons

Creative Commons Filmmaking - A Swarm Of Angels remixes modern cinema

Paul Graham: Taste For Makers

Aspen: The Multimedia Magazine in a Box

Dadaism by Tristan Tzara


The Fluxus Home Page

Electronic Arts Intermix

SIU Syllabus Attachment

SIU Syllabus Attachment - Spring 2017 - PDF