IMD 540 Topics in Intermedia Theory / History

Here are some of the topics we have offered under the topic IMD 540.

 

IMD 540 Dadaism/Neo-Dadaism

The first half of this art history seminar examines Dadaism, the legendary and iconoclastic avant-garde art movement. It considers the history, aims, successes, and failures of the movement in the context of mechanization and World War I.

The second half of the course examines the legacy of Dadaism, in particular the 1950s movement known as Neo-Dadaism. The course takes an interdisciplinary and theoretical approach to the art, literature, design, and performance of each movement. In keeping with the experimental flavor of the art produced by these movements, students will keep reading journals, deliver multimedia presentations, and write research papers on selected topics.

The readings will provide historical analyses of the movements and place them in the contexts of modernism and postmodernism. Throughout we’ll consider how each movement challenged conventional definitions of art and traditional distinctions between “high” and “low” art forms. Specific artists considered include Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia, Robert Rauschenberg, and Allan Kaprow.

 

IMD 540 Contemporizing the Absurd

This course will have two halves, the first of which will survey the dramatic literature of the Absurdist movement and the second will create a performance piece inspired by this literature.

Using texts such as Martin Esslin’s Theatre of the Absurd and dramatic works by Beckett and Ionesco, among others, students will explore the brief but powerfully influential contemporary theatre movement coined as Absurdism by Esslin.  Absurdism uses irony and humor to critique the contemporary human condidtion from an existential perspective and its influence can be seen in contemporary writers such as Edward Albee and Sam Shepard as well as in performance art such as Ono’s Cut Piece.

The class will then, as a group under the direction of Sarah Lou Cottrell, create a performance piece inspired by the themes and techniques used by the Absurdist dramatists.  These ideas will be used to address and update the critical discourse of contemporary performance practice and the final project will be entered into the 2012 Without Borders Festival.

 

IMD 540 Wabi-Sabi: the aesthetics of impermanence and imperfection

The traditional Japanese notion of wabi-sabi is both compelling and inscrutable for contemporary artists. In some ways oppositional to the Classical aesthetics of the West, wabi-sabi has provided a focal point for artists such as Andy Goldsworthy and Mary Lucier and for ideas from fuzzy logic to sustainability and eco-art. This course will examine the tenets of wabi-sabi and some of the currents it has helped inform today. Students can expect to explore these currents through readings, screenings and discussions in pursuit of their own individual or small group projects examining some aspect of this ancient practice.

 

IMD 540 The Century of the Self

Documentary filmmaker Adam Curtis describes the co-opting of Freudian psychoanalysis by market forces in the 20th century as constructing the “Century of the Self” in his powerful and thought-provoking 2002 documentary series of the same name. This course will examine in detail the ideas and arguments at the heart of this documentary, which attempts to draw together the streams of capitalism, democracy and the media spectacle as a grand collusion in contemporary Western culture. Using this examination as a starting point, students will respond by creating research projects relative to their individual course of study that further extrapolate on Curtis’ thesis in whole or in part. These projects can be in forms ranging from artwork to essay and may deal with a variety of ideas from the semiotics of the hyperreal to techniques of the contemporary documentarian and anything in between.

 

IMD 540 Conceptual Photography in the Digital Age

Conceptual art, a new form of dematerialized art that developed in the early 1960s, profoundly changed both methods ad process of the creation of art as well as our thinking about art’s place and function. Many conceptual artists have made use of photography as both a primary investigatory tool as well as a presentation form. The intention of this class is therefore twofold: to consider the premises, definitions and directions of conceptual art and to explore how photography was utilized in conceptual art. The format utilized in this class is based on a theory and practice model, that is we will be both studying the historical and theoretical nature of the subject as well as doing/creating work that extends and puts into practice the ideas under consideration.

 

IMD 540/CMJ 593: Visual Culture

Visual culture constitutes an emerginginterdisciplinary field that builds, among others, on the fields of art, cinema and mediastudies, gender studies, (post)structuralism, and critical/cultural studies. This courseexplores key texts in visual culture that examine the diverse roles of looking and seeingin contemporary culture. Readings and discussions will follow debates on a range ofareas including: the gaze, bodies, and power; consumer culture and globalization;colonialism/postcolonialism; and scientific looking. Readings will be paired with screenings to facilitate the application of theory and lively, interactive discussion. Objects of study will include film & television, advertising, fashion, architecture, photography, painting, graphic design, and digital culture. The course will emphasize both theory and methods of analyzing and critiquing visual culture.

 

 IMD 540 World Making Practices

 

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