Intermedia Workshop

A white, topless woman covers her body with a white substance
Heidi Bartlett (MFA, Intermedia), with Kuldeep Singh (MFA, Painting), “Noli Me Tangere,” installation/performance, Fall 2014.

The goal of this workshop is to create conditions where students evolve conceptually and aesthetically. The workshop prepares students to interpret their culture in terms of new languages of representation. In particular, students gain critical skills in analyzing established visual languages and are encouraged to produce and perform such languages. Students learn to merge scholarly practices with workshop practices, thus challenging the barriers between so-called academic and creative areas. The work involves hands-on experience in production of video art, performance, and installation, as well as the creation of objects.

Course Materials

Download as PDF: Spring 2015 Intermedia Workshop Syllabus

Download as PDF: Fall 2014 Intermedia Workshop Syllabus

Download as PDF: Spring 2014 Intermedia Workshop Syllabus

Download as PDF: Spring 2013 Intermedia Workshop Syllabus

Download as PDF: Spring 2012 Intermedia Workshop Syllabus

Download as PDF: Fall 2010 Intermedia Workshop Syllabus

Download as PDF: Fall 2009 Intermedia Workshop Syllabus

Download as PDF: Fall 2008 Intermedia Workshop Syllabus

Level: Graduate

Student Work

Two conical objects face each other
Jason Renaud (MFA, Sculpture), “Survival Laughter,” installation, Fall 2014
Kristen DeGree (MFA, Intermedia), “Finishing Moves,” video and installation, Spring 2014.
A man holds a boox fan near a woman whose head is obscured by a large collection of turquoise balloons
Barber, with Heidi Bartlett (both MFA, Intermedia), “Republic,” performance with original audio score, Spring 2014
Gallery installation with knitted forms
Rachel Livedalen (MFA, Printmaking), “Behold A Most Spectacular Specter,” performance/installation/photography, Spring 2013.
Panoramic white drawing with map-like lines and textures
 Ian Etter (MFA, Drawing), “Bonetselle Panorama,” drawing with laser cutter, Spring 2013.
Heath Schultz (MFA, Intermedia), “Society of the Spectacle,” 85-minute video essay, Spring 2013.
Gallery installation with small objectson wall and platform with plaid blanket on the floor
Katie Hargrave (MFA, Intermedia), “Reading White Pines,” participatory/installation, Spring 2012.
Art photograph of room containing department store or hotel surplus
Stephen Crompton (MFA, Photography), “Jamestown Dillard’s,” digital photograph, Spring 2012.
Drawing of land maps and maps of agribusiness connections
Brendan Baylor (MFA, Printmaking), “Tracing Systems,” mixed-media drawing (detail), 41”x80″, Spring 2012.
A slender black man stands with his back to the camera flexing before a poster depicting Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg
Naqeeb Stevens (MFA, Intermedia), “Me And Pac And Snoop,” still from video performance, Fall 2010.

Select Student Comments

“Sarah is a wonderful instructor – she is encouraging and is capable of giving thoughtful feedback to all students. As a mentor, educator, and artist her engagement with the community and greater sociopolitical issues makes her an asset to undergraduates, graduates, the university, and Iowa City.” (Fall 2014)

“Sarah created a vigorous and collegial learning environment which encouraged me to think about my work more critically. I espeically appreciated her attention to community-building – through announcements, field trips – and deep commitment to creating a space to discuss and reflect on what’s going on outside the classroom walls.” (Fall 2014)

“Sarah is an excellent discussion leader and I deeply admire her ability to keep conversation focused but also allow it to organically expand from the voices of the students. This class had a combination of incredibly smart and invested students and an authoritative voice like Sarah that facilitated and propelled critiques.” (Spring 2014)

“Interviewing each other was a wonderful part of the class! Thanks also for requiring snacks – I feel like we built a strong community and I’m leaving this term with a stronger network of artists/friends/colleagues and a sense of how my work fits into a larger art context.” (Spring 2014)

“I have really enjoyed this class both for the quality of the discussion and the ways in which it has pushed my artistic practice in a new direction. Through the course of this semester I was able to begin a wholly new kind of investigation and shape it into a well-formed finished product due in large part of Prof. Kanouse’s structure of the course, the way that discussions throughout the class were focused on forming ideas into artistic products, and the specific feedback I received in my critiques.” (Spring 2013)

“In my time here as a graduate student, no other instructor has been as critical, helpful, and/or supportive of both my practice and my life as the instructor for this course has been. In the past 3 years I have felt like I have grown not only as an artist, but as a person in a very positive and affirming way.” (Spring 2013)

“Sarah not only challenges us to create original thoughtful work, but to engage in a dialogue that extends beyond the purely art/aesthetic…Sarah always has constructive feedback for students – often leading them to helpful texts or referencing contemporary artists/movements that would be beneficial to look towards. I thoroughly enjoyed the course.” (Spring 2013)

“I like the balance between structure and student-directed material – having peers pick/present readings relevant to their work helped give me context on where they were coming from as well as expose me to material unfamiliar to me. Sarah’s knowledge and astute criticisms encourage us to do the same – the class is very helpful for my development.” (Spring 2013)

“This class gave me the room to grow and learn from other artists. I developed a more critical eye for what the objectives are in my work.” (Spring 2012)

“The course overall helped me to develop a new framework for thinking about my practice.” (Spring 2012)

“In general, your effort makes the class and that much is evident. Thanks for your work” (Fall 2010)

“It has been a pleasure working with Sarah Kanouse. As a grad student in my final year, working with her has been a highlight of my art career at Iowa. She has offered rigorous courses/coursework and presents exciting ideas in the field of contemporary art…She is a smart, articulate teacher and an interesting artist who pushes students through critical feedback and dialogue in the classroom.” (Fall 2009)

“This has been an outstanding course from start to finish. I very much enjoy the academic challenge level of this course. Sarah sets high expectations for her students to know why their work is meaningful and how it fits into a larger social context. I found the critiques to be very beneficial to my work. Sarah has a wonderful ability to validate all students’ work, but also to challenge them to take it to an even more complex and academically solid place. Students pick up on this and emulate this – which results in a very positive environment.” (Fall 2009)

“I am very impressed by Ms. Kanouse’s ability to insightfully critique work of students from a wide range of disciplines. Her criticism was always thoughtful, constructive and well-balanced. She was able to bring her vast knowledge of current art trends and processes to the table to enrich the critique environment.” (Fall 2008)

“A good workshop class! I like the diversity of discussion and the lively participation. Sarah does a good job of keeping everyone on task and moving the conversation forward.” (Fall 2008)

Performing Haymarket

After over a century of official silence, the City of Chicago dedicated a new monument to the Haymarket Affair, one of the central events in the history of labor activism and radical politics worldwide, in 2004. The monument signaled a profound change in how divergent views on Haymarket are managed, and the monument’s iconography and inscription, as well as the media coverage surrounding it, emphasized themes of consensus and closure. Yet the new monument is not the only memorial to have been placed on the site, and in the past century a range of much more explicitly partisan commemorations have taken place there. This paper critically considers performative memorials inspired by anarchist observances but coming out of arts practice, with special attention given to the poetics and politics implied by this work. The author’s own memorial performance is discussed in detail; also addressed are works by Brian Dortmund, Kehben Grifter, and Michael Piazza.

Kanouse, Sarah, “Performing Haymarket,” ACME: An International E-Journal of Critical Geographies, 7(1): 69-87,

Download PDF: Performing Haymarket

Time-Based Media/Video I

This upper division/graduate level introductory seminar explores time-based media-including video, sound, installation, performance, locative media and Web-based production–and its expanding critical role in contemporary art and society. The course is designed to provide a laboratory/workshop opportunity for students to develop their time-based creative practice, focusing on individual production, group projects and critical discussion. In creative projects and short reading and writing assignments, students will look at the impact of time-based media in culture. Time-based media art history screenings and discussion are a routine part of the class. Informal and formal critiques of work are central to the seminar and a high level of personal engagement and initiative is expected. Technical workshops will be offered routinely during the semester. One-on-one tutorial help will be arranged as needed.

Download as PDF: Fall 2008 Time-Based Media/Video I Syllabus

Level: Upper-Division Undergraduate/Graduate

Student Work: Soundwalk

Create an audio piece that guides the listener through an experience of space. Your piece may must employ location recordings and/or voice; it is up to you whether you wish to employ music or non-location audio. Your piece may be a narrative that unfolds in space, a guide to the history or culture of a particular place, or a phenomenological experiment.

Download as PDF: Soundwalk Assignment

David Rogers (MFA, Graphic Design), “Untitled Soundwalk”, Fall 2008.  

Chris Shortway (PhD, Music Composition), “Clinton Street Music Building,” Fall 2008.  

Jennifer Zoble (MFA, Literary Translation), Seneca on Noise, Fall 2008

Student Work: Two Minutes/Two Edits

Create a single channel video with sound using at least two sources of strongly contrasting footage. Then, using only the same shots and sounds as in the first piece, create a second video whose pacing, tone, and meaning vary dramatically from the first piece. You do not need to use all the shots and sounds from the first video but should avoid introducing new materials into the second piece. Each video should be approximately two minutes long.

Consider Eisenstein’s concepts of montage in creating your video, centering around the conflict and collision of two unlike images. Consider contrasts of directionality, scale, volume, mass, depth, distance, light, and time in your work. Consider also how manipulating color and speed and removing or reordering frames might change the video’s meaning. Remember to think about how sound can converge or diverge from what is happening on the screen.

Download as PDF: Two Edits Assignment

Jean-Patrick Mahoney (BA, Film/Video Production), “The Cobra Strikes,” Fall 2008.
Jean-Patrick Mahoney (BA, Film/Video Production), “Real American Ninja,” Fall 2008.

Select Student Comments

“This has been a wonderful course that greatly improved my understanding of time-based art. I felt I developed many skills that I will apply to my art area. I was also very impressed with how well Sarah was able to create a community environment with the class. All students thoughts were respected – as was their work.” (Fall 2008)

“Great class! Sarah is very knowledgeable and helpful. I learned much about current technological devices/formats and was pushed to be as creative as possible.” (Fall 2008)