Radical Media Fall 07 - Outline

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Syllabus | Resources | Student Work | Production Two Manual | Mediography

MCM 1700P - Radical Media (CRN 12348)
Department of Modern Culture and Media, Brown University
Fall 2007


Instructor Information

Name: Mark Tribe
Email: Mark_Tribe AT brown DOT edu
Office Phone: 401 863-7886
Office Location: 155 George Street, Room 101
Office Hours : Tuesdays 3:00pm - 5:00pm, or by appointment
Campus Box : 1957
Web Site: http://nothing.org

Course Description

Walter Benjamin wrote that in the age of mechanical reproduction art ceases to be based on ritual and "begins to be based on another practice--politics." What is the relation between art and politics in an age of digital distribution? This production seminar explores the nexus of media and radical political action, paying special attention to artistic practices that mobilize media tactically to engage hegemonic power structures. Students will explore political action through the development of their own art work: identifying issues, conducting research, defining tactics, and creating media projects. The course examines historical examples of radical media, including video art, culture jamming, and hacktivism, placing them in historical context and developing a critique of these practices based on readings including Hakim Bey, Bertolt Brecht, Critical Art Ensemble, and Guy Debord. The course also considers jihadi video produced by militant Islamist groups as an example of reactionary media. Prerequisite: one MCM course.

Meeting Times and Location

Mondays 5:00 - 7:30
Wednesdays 4:00 - 5:30

Unless otherwise indicated, all course meetings take place in the MCM Production Building, 135 Thayer Street, Room 102 (Production Two)


1. Develop a critical understanding of the relation between art and politics in contemporary culture;
2. Explore the theoretical and historical context of radical (and reactionary) media practices;
3. Develop a politically-engaged media art practice.


Nota Bene: assignments are not considered complete until they have been adequately documented on the student work page. Late assignments will not be accepted without prior permission from the instructor.


1. Poster Project, due Sept. 24

Design, print, and distribute a radical poster. Write a brief artist statement (250-500 words) discussing your intentions, subject matter, and working process.

2. Online Video Project, due Oct. 22

Produce a 3-5 min. radical video and upload it to a video sharing site (e.g. Blip.tv, Jumpcut, YouTube). Write a brief artist statement (250-500 words) discussing your intentions, subject matter, and working process.

3. Group Project, due Nov. 19

Collaborate in groups of 3-5 students on a radical media project that reaches an audience beyond students at Brown. Your project can take any form, as long as it fits within the broad definition of radical media established in the course. Each group should compile a mediography (a multimedia bibliography) consisting of texts, films, web sites, etc. that are relevant to your project. Each member of the group should write a short artist statement (250-500 words)  that includes references to the works in this mediography.

4. Open Project, due Dec. 10

This can be a new independent project or a revision or extension of a previous independent or group project. Write a brief artist statement (250-500 words) discussing your intentions, subject matter, and working process.

Presentation, dates TBD

Give an in-class presentation on one or more radical media project(s) of your choice. Select projects in consultation with the instructor. Presentations should be approximately 20 minutes long and should involve some kind of media support (Web sites, video, PowerPoint, etc.) in which you show the project(s) you are discussing. Presentations should be well-researched, should include detailed description and critical analysis, and must be documented on the wiki.


Student performance will be assessed in four areas:

  1. Quality of production work;
  2. Relevance of production work to the concepts explored in the course;
  3. Quality and relevance of in-class presentation;
  4. Active participation in class meetings demonstrating critical engagement with course material (readings, screenings, art works);
  5. Attendance and punctuality.

Attendance and Punctuality

Given the participatory nature of this course, attendance and punctuality are required. Plan to attend all course meetings. Please contact me in advance if you won't be able to make it to a class due to an unavoidable conflict or medical emergency. Students with multiple unexcused absences and/or persistent lateness risk failing the course. Class starts on time, so please make every effort to arrive on time.


Syllabus | Resources | Student Work | Production Two Manual | Mediography

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