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Video: History, Theory, Practice

Semester and Year FA 2016
Course Number ARTS-UG1609
Section 001
Instructor Nina Katchadourian
Days R
Time 3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
6:20 PM - 7:35 PM
Units 4
Level U


Same as IDSEM-UG 1789. Students may enroll in either IDSEM-UG 1789 or ARTS-UG 1609. Students enrolled in IDSEM-UG 1789 will focus their work on the written critical analysis of video; students enrolled in ARTS-UG 1609 will focus their work on the production of video work. All students in this team-taught course share some assignments, written and production-based. Please note this course includes an additional, required meeting hour (Wed, 6:20-7:35) for weekly video screenings. Previous experience with video is strongly suggested for students who enroll in ARTS-UG 1609. Students enrolled in ARTS-UG 1609 should also note that they will not receive credit toward either the liberal arts foundation or interdisciplinary seminar requirement.


This course investigates video as an artistic medium, a tool of surveillant culture, and a means for everyday witnessing, watching, documenting, remembering, and giving oneself to be seen. We will begin by tracing the invention of the medium from the mid-1950s, and the subsequent effect on both artists and non-artists as video technology became more commonplace and affordable in the 1970s. We will consider the history of video art, including artists like William Wegman, Vito Acconci, Nam June Paik, and Joan Jonas, as well as video’s use by activist groups such as the Videofreex and Paper Tiger Television. Our discussion of video in contemporary art practice will touch on works by Sharon Hayes, Candice Breitz, Patty Chang, and John Kessler, among many others. Examining the history of video as an art form will require that we make sense of the interaction between artistic and non-artistic uses of the medium, as well as the ways in which artists do the work of representing important aspects of life in the visual field as such technological innovations as video have transformed that experience. What does video offer as a mode of representation that other mediums do not? Are there things that video does particularly well? Conversely, what are the blind spots of the medium? While all students will write critical papers as well as produce short video projects, students are asked to elect to enroll in one of two course code options: Option 1 (Video as Interdisciplinary Seminar, wherein major work completed is of the written type) or Option 2 (Video as Arts Workshop, wherein major work completed is artwork/ video projects). All students meet together regardless of Option elected, and all students are also required to attend one and a half hour weekly screenings of videos in addition to regular course meeting hours.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Arts Workshops (ARTS-UG)