Elements of Media Art

Hands-on digital media production class for non-art majors! Learn media storytelling skills by shooting and editing high-definition video, using still images and found footage, and enhancing your productions with sound. Grounded by key screenings, projects explore video as a medium for personal and group storytelling. Students will work in community settings and creatively engage the University of Iowa’s themed semester. Video cameras will be provided.

A toddler in traditional Korean dress sits alone at a table set for a birthday party
Kimberly Pickering (BA, Undeclared), Pecha-Kucha Presentation, Spring 2015

Course Materials

Download as PDF: Spring 2015 Elements of Media Art Syllabus

Media Art Lab

This workshop supports study and production in the media arts, including digital video, sound, installation/performance, and Internet and new media art, for students with a range of experience with media technologies. Conceptual development is stressed through regular readings and screenings, while technology skills are built in hands-on workshops using a range of media production equipment and platforms. In class and short-term projects lead to the development of a significant final piece of work that may relate to students’ ongoing creative interests.

Course Materials

Download as PDF: Fall 2014 Media Art Lab

Download as PDF: Fall 2013 Media Art Lab Syllabus

Download as PDF: Fall 2012 Media Art Lab Syllabus

Download as PDF: Spring 2012 Media Art Lab Syllabus

Download as PDF: Fall 2011 Media Art Lab Syllabus

Download as PDF: Spring 2011 Media Art Lab Syllabus

Download as PDF: Fall 2010 Media Art Lab Syllabus

Download as PDF: Spring 2010 Media Art Lab Syllabus

Level: Upper-Division Undergraduate/Graduate

Student Work: Video Exquisite Corpse

Among Surrealist techniques exploiting the mystique of accident was a kind of collective collage of words or images called the cadavre exquis (exquisite corpse). Based on an old parlor game, it was played by several people, each of whom would write a phrase on a sheet of paper, fold the paper to conceal part of it, and pass it on to the next player for his contribution.”

­­–William S. Rubin

Each pair will have a week to create a video exquisite corpse, using the camera to record images grounded in a specific point of view and individual, subjective position. Use the camera’s manual functions in an intentional and controlled way, developing fluency with exposure and focus controls such that technical “imperfections” are clearly intentional, expressive effects.

Download as PDF: Video Exquisite Corpse Assignment

Emily Dang (BFA, Drawing), Buffy Quintero (PhD, Interdisciplinary Studies), and Sarita Zaleha (MFA, Printmaking), Fall 2014.

Student Work: Video Trios

Over the next two weeks, each individual will shoot and edit three distinct but related videos of exactly twenty seconds each. The trio should have a unifying visual or conceptual theme (such as “time,” “pattern,” or even something silly like “fruit”) that is dealt with in three distinct ways. Each twenty second video should feel ‘complete,’ with a distinct beginning, middle, and end, and include a minimum of three shots. Create one video around each of the following:

  • Informal voiceover or conversational exchange
  • Reading of appropriated text
  • Images/sounds only, with no spoken text

Note: The precise length of each video in this assignment varied each semester, from 12-30 seconds

Download as PDF: Video Trios Assignment

Christopher Willauer (BFA, Intermedia), Fall 2013.

Student Work: Audio Postcard/Sound Story

This assignment asks students to tune into the aesthetic potential of sound composition while introducing fundamentals of field recording and audio composition. Variations have included audio ‘postcards’ – descriptive and evocative dispatches from a specific place, ‘sound stories’ – narratives in which the visual is subordinate to the sound, and thematic, collaborative sound investigations.

Download as PDF: Sounds Like War

Download as PDF: Sound Stories Assignment

Download as PDF: Audio Postcard Assignment

Emily Dang and V.K. Tian, “24 Hours,” Fall 2014

Naoki Izumo (MFA, Intermedia) and Jared Jewell (BFA, Intermedia), “Manufacturing War,” Fall 2014.

Erica Blair (BFA, Intermedia), “Abstract Audio Postcard,” Fall 2012.

Derek Blackman (BFA, Photography), “Anxiety,” Spring 2011.

Student Work: Installation

The class sometimes includes an installation component, especially when paired with Intermedia’s public Fall Showcase event. Due to space limitations, the students have only one week to develop the installation component.

Download as PDF: One Week Installations Assignment

Art installation with strings and shadow puppets
Emily Dang (BFA, Painting/Drawing) and V.K. Tian (BA, Art), “24 Hours,” installation of the audio work shown above, Fall 2014.
Installation with five vintage TVs live-monitoring their own image
Brendan Wells (BFA, Intermedia), “Daisy Chain,” Media Art Lab – Spring 2010
Dan Feinberg (MFA Sculpture) and Josh Hoeks (MFA, Sculpture), “Down He Goes,” site specific installation with mechanical arm “flushing” video image into a bucket of water, Media Art Lab Fall 2010.

Select Student Comments

“This class has been the most pertinent in developing my artistic awareness in the world around me and what I am doing as an artist. Thank you for helping me develop, Sarah.” (Fall 2014)

“I was encouraged to do something I always wanted to do. It is a good chance for me to know and show who I really am.” (Fall 2014)

“Sarah does an excellent job balancing learning of technical craft skills with conceptual, historical, and contemporary trends of video/sound art. I appreciate her knowledge of artists and art and weaves that info throughout the semester into both class group and individual work. I feel much more comfortable in media equipment and editing software now.” (Fall 2013)

“Your knowledge and passion for the craft is evident and inspired (inspiring) me to do my best!” (Fall 2013)

“This was a wonderful class. Not only did I learn the technical skills necessary for video/audio art, I also learned a lot about artists working in this way, and I was inspired by them. You did an excellent job of balancing course content/expectations for people with a lot of background in this and students with no background at all.” (Fall 2012)

“In comparison with some instructors, Sarah assumes a lot of work from the students; however, I’ve found that I try to be more creative because of it.” (Fall 2012)

“I really enjoyed the structure of the class. I was able to learn most of what I needed to begin quickly and really focus on what I wanted to do. I am planning on taking the course again next semester and hope to do a lot of independent research.” (Spring 2012)

“Professor Kanouse is incredibly smart and generous with her time. This class helped me a lot with my art work and both she and the rest of the class gave me great feedback. The class is challenging, much more so than other classes I have taken in the school of art. I would definitely take this class again. There was a good balance of theory and practical learning and service learning (with our class-curated exhibition). This is a great class.” (Spring 2012)

“The material in this course is super interesting but the class is really intense. Sarah is super smart and ambitious as an instructor.” (Fall 2011)

“This class was very challenging, technically and conceptually. The instructor has high expectations but it seems to make everyone work much harder. This was a great class.” (Fall 2011)

“Great class, well organized, very dedicated instructor.” (Fall 2010)

“I really enjoyed this course. It was often fast-paced, with introduction to several computer programs with projects/assignments due the following week. This made learning the programs a self-guided venture – I would have appreciated more time working on computers in class, though extremely detailed instructional handouts did help…Nevertheless, I learned and feel proficient with so much more than I previous was, and feel I can now work independently on similar audio and video projects, which is of great value to me.” (Fall 2010)

“Sarah is an extremely organized and well spoken teacher. She cares deeply about the course and her students at large. Sarah has been an exceptionally valuable part of my graduate studies and as a result I will be minoring in this area. I hope to continue working with her throughout my time here. Thank you Sarah for all of your help, support, and insight.” (Spring 2010)

“If I could give one piece of advice to entering graduate students, it would be to take a class with Sarah Kanouse. Her courses are engaging and she will inspire you to create your strongest work. Sarah clearly loves teaching and is committed to seeing students of all interests/ability levels succeed.” (Spring 2010)

Video as Art

Young man playing basson with writing over image
Dana Telsrow (BA, Art and Music), “Telsrow Performing Baldessari In The Style of Baldessari Singing Sol LeWitt in The Style of Telsrow After Baldessari,” Video as Art – Spring 2013.

Hands-on experience in video production for the artist! This intensive course teaches skills in digital video capture, editing, and presentation while providing an overview of video in the contemporary arts, including storytelling, installation, performance, and documentation. Several skill-building assignments lead to the creation of a final, self-initiated creative project.

Course Materials

Download as PDF: Spring 2013 Video as Art Syllabus

Level: Intermediate Undergraduate

Student Work: “After____________”

Restage one of the early performance-based videos from the list provided. Your goal is not merely to repeat but rather to re-invent the original. Consider what it means to re-enact the piece some 35-40 years after the original performance was put on tape. How has the historical context changed, and in what ways is it the same? What idiosyncrasies, blind spots, or attributes of its time can be addressed or updated through your restaging? What quirks of our present cultural moment might be illuminated by including them in your reperformance? How does taking documentation of a performance – largely planned but unscripted—and using it as a ‘text’ change its meaning? In short, what does the present have to say to— and through—this artifact of the past?

Your reenactment may take great liberties with the original piece, but your documentation plan should include shooting at least one full-length shot that maintains the camera-on-tripod grammar of the original video work. Consider your video documentation carefully: by using multiple cameras and editing, you may be able to emphasize elements of the performance in ways the original artist could not.

Ian Abrams (BFA, Drawing), “Bicycle Mechanic (After William Wegman),” Spring 2013.
Tony Ramos (BFA, Graphic Design), “Rolling Device (After Bruce Nauman),” Spring 2013.

Student Work: “Un/Reliable Narrators”

Conduct an interview with one or more individuals totaling about 30 minutes in length. Use this footage as the basis for a video in which you examine how authenticity and trustworthiness are established or undermined in the media image. The goal is not to ‘trick’ the viewer but rather to foster reflexivity and criticality about how narrators are constructed as believable or untrustworthy, as sympathetic or unsympathetic, as individuals or representative of a group. Taking the works screened in class as a point of departure, you may:

  • Radically edit the interviewee’s words while exposing your authorial hand (Omer Fast)
  • Use actors to blur the boundary between authentic and inauthentic testimony (Sam Taylor-Wood)
  • Manipulate or withhold a speaker’s image (Jacqueline Goss)
  • Replace the words of one speaker with those of another (Gillian Wearing)
  • Allow a speaker’s singularity to slowly emerge (Candice Breitz)
  • Or some other formal gesture that self-reflexively reveals the production of truth in the context of documentary.
Tyler Lynch (BA, Film/Video Production), “These Ideal Forms,” Spring 2013.

Student Work: “Ubiquitous Images”

The moving image detritus of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries is at your disposal like never before; you probably generate at least some of it every day yourself. Taking recent works (2000-present) screened in class as a point of departure, create a short video piece that reflects on the status of the moving image a century after its popularization and two decades into the Internet. Pick one formal or conceptual approach from each list.

  • Material: Found footage, Genre Conventions
  • Look: Plug-in Effects, Digital Degeneration
  • Form: Black Box Screening; Video in/as space or object
Angela Barr (BFA, Intermedia), “No Metal, No Nails,” Spring 2013.
Tyler Lynch (BA, Film/Video Production), “8 Hours of YouTube,” Spring 2013.

Select Student Comments

“I wanted to thank you for being a great teacher. Video as Art was definitely one of my favorite classes that I have ever taken, and I do wish that I would have discovered my propensity for visual art sooner in my collegiate career. You have a balance between cool-ness and teacher-ness that made it easy for me to become excited about my own ideas and approaches and I appreciate the freedom I had to explore my own pathways. Thanks for helping me think through some of my wonderings as an artist.” (by email, Spring 2013)

Time-Based Media/Video II

This upper‐division course is intended for students pursuing advanced study in time‐based art forms such as single channel film/video, live performance, internet art, sound art, film/ video installation, and event‐based projects. Course content will be tailored to the practices of students in the class while supporting the exploration of new thematic and formal areas. Activities may include in‐class creative assignments, readings, screenings, field trips, student and guest presentations, professional development exercises, critiques, and the production of original works of time‐based art.

Download as PDF: Spring 2009 Time-Based Media/Video II Syllabus

Level: Upper-Division Undergraduate/Graduate

Katy Hoffer (MFA, Film/Video Production), “Man vs. Hog,” experimental video, Spring 2009.
Char Banach (MFA, Graphic Design), “Bullet and Suitcase,” digital animation, Spring 2009.

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)