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Information and Syllabus

Media Arts: Performance

Professor: Robert Spahr
Contact: rspahr@siu.edu
Office: Northwest Annex, B213
T   09:00am-01:00pm
W  12:00pm-02:00pm
& by appointment

Time & Location:
T @ 02:00pm-05:50pm - Comm 1116

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

Course Information:
Media Arts: Performance - 23497 - CP 300D 201

Suggested Text:

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


This course exposes students to the history and theory 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 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 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 a Live Art event.


  • Increase knowledge relevant to the analysis and history of media arts, performance, live art and installation.
  • Develop technical skills for creating and analyzing media arts and interactivity by developing individual and collaborative live art performance.
  • Develop an awareness of the creative process as it applies to media arts practice.


### Please note syllabus is subject to change with notice. ###

Jan 14
Introductions, Live Art, Critique, Elements of Art
Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
Critique and Self-Portrait
Elements of Art
Principles of Organization

The Case for Performance Art | The Art Assignment, 09:10
Live Art Selections #1
Live Art Selections #2
Regina Jose Galindo: Tierra, (6:56-9:10) 2013
Duchamp: Readymades
Man Ray: Indestructable Object
John Cage: Water Walk - Jan, 1960, 03:58
Robert Morris: Litanies & Document
David Greilsammer - John Cage - "prepared piano", 1:12
Pendulum Music / Steve Reich / 1968, 6:13
Tzara: How to Make a Dadaist Poem
Joseph Beuys, 9:47

Project #1: Metaphors & Machines
Create a Wordpress.com blog.
Note: Bring your Metaphors & Machines object to the next class.

Workshop: Stillness & Repetition

Blog: Reaction/Reflection #1

Jan 21
Italian Futurism, Dada & Bauhaus
Lecture: Italian Futurism, Dada & Bauhaus

Workshop: Inconsistency

Blog: Reaction/Reflection #2

Jan 28
Critique: Project #1 - Metaphors & Machines
Project #1 is due.

Dada & Bauhaus
Oskar Schlemmer - The Triadic Ballet, 6:58
Fernand Leger: Ballet Mecanique 1924, 16:10
László Moholy-Nagy’s Light Prop for an Electric Stage (Light-Space Modulator), 1930, 1:46
Jean Tinguely "Homage to New York" 1960, 1:28
Rebecca Horn Performance II (Pencil mask), 0:40
Zachary Small, Hyperallergic: The Performance Art of Congressional Protest, Sep 07, 2018

Blog: Response/Reaction #3

Feb 04
Glengarry Glen Ross (Alec Baldwin)
Script - Alec Baldwin Scene
Beckett on Film: Come and Go
Hitchcock: The Birds
The Birds - Analysis

Blog: Reaction/Reflection #4
Note: Please bring extra clothes to class, such as shirts, pants, gloves, hats, jackets etc...

Feb 11
Workshop: Inconsistency & Clothing

Workshop: Inconsistency & Clothing, Transitions, Light, Time & Space

Assign: Project #2: Time, Clothing & Prosthesis

Blog: Reaction/Reflection #5
Note: Please bring extra clothes to class, such as shirts, pants, gloves, hats, jackets etc...

Feb 18
Critique - Project #2: Time, Clothing & Prosthesis
Project #2 is due.

Assign: Project #3: Counter Mapping: Origins, Directions & Locations - Details will be discussed in class.

Blog: Reaction/Reflection #6

Feb 25
Studio / Workshop Day

Blog: Reaction/Reflection #7

Mar 03
Critique - Project #3
Project #3 is due.

Blog: Reaction/Reflection #8

Performance Projects: Three Projects

Three Projects
In addition to class exercises each student will complete three individual projects which can be individual or in small groups. During the semester we may look at some works-in-progress during Open Studio time. Details regarding the requirements for each of these two assignments will be discussed in detail on the day that they are assigned. All projects must be documented in a suitable medium. All documentation should be uploaded and linked to the students blog.


View the Class Blogs

Students will create an online journal hosted at wordpress.com. Please email the URL of your wordpress blog to rspahr@siu.edu

1. Each week you will be writing a reaction/reflection entry reflecting on your progress in the class. Topics could include your creative process, reflections on readings, work we have viewed in class, discussion, and critique.
2. You will be uploading the documentation of your completed projects
3. There may occasionally be written critiques and reviews of blogs, movies, or artwork.

Each entry should be approximately 250 words and no more than 500 words. I encourage you to freely discuss creative ideas for films, things that inspire you from the readings or media screened in class, concerns regarding theory or production, and most importantly, how you plan to apply what is learned to your own body of work.

Do not simply repeat information or facts that were mentioned during lecture or in the readings: REFLECT on them.

No plagiarism!

MCMA Equipment Checkout:
Call: 618-453-7763
Email: mcma.checkout@gmail.com

Helpful Equipment: As a CP student you will have the opportunity to check out video and sound recording equipment from the college. However, if you have your own point and shoot camera, DSLR still image camera or video camera, those items will be very helpful in this class. Details regarding available equipment will be discussed in class.


The work in this course requires motivation, exploration, risk-taking, and most importantly, an openness to new ideas. 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.

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

Assignments: All assignments and projects are due at the beginning of class. Late projects will not be accepted. If you anticipate difficulty completing an assignment, see me for assistance well before the deadline. You must turn in every assignment to pass the class. If you do not turn in one assignment, you cannot get any grade higher than a C on your final grade.

Critique: Students will work closely with each other to develop their projects. This includes learning to speak clearly expressing oneself when discussing their own and others artwork.

Quizzes: There may be occasional unannounced quizzes regarding recent lectures and/or readings.


A 95-100,   A- 92-95
Outstanding work.
Solution shows excellent depth of understanding and innovation. The solution has been fully developed in form and concept.

B+ 88-91,   B 85-87,   B- 82-84
Good work.
Solution exceeds all requirements and shows above average depth of understanding. Demonstrates more than adequate clarity of idea and execution.

C+ 78-81,   C 75-77,   C- 72-74
Average work.
Problem has been solved adequately, but the solution lacks depth of understanding, development and innovation.

D+ 68-71,   D 65-67,   D- 62-64
Poor work.
Solution is extremely weak and lacks understanding and innovation. Technical skills are weak.

F 61 or less
Unacceptable work.
Solution to the problem is unresolved and incomplete resulting in a failing grade.

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

Grades will be based on the following:

  • 20% Originality of concept
  • 20% Delivery (execution of the concept)
  • 20% Documentation / Process
  • 20% Craft
  • 20% Critique & participation

Your final grade will be determined by the following:

  • 30% Participation / Exercises
  • 10% Blog/Journal
  • 20% Project #1
  • 20% Project #2
  • 20% Project #3

SIU Syllabus Attachment

SIU Syllabus Attachment - Spring '20 - PDF