Video Art

ARTS 204

Fall Session - 11:00am-1:45pm on Tuesdays & Thursdays

Moakley Center, room 216

Instructor: Neil Salley

Course Description

This course introduces students to the fundamental principles of Video Art through a survey of its history, theory and practice.


Course Structure

Through a historical survey of aesthetic conventions of video as an art form this course seeks to expand upon a students conceptual ideas and visual language. Video screenings and discussions will be a routine part of the class. Hopefully – we will make connections across decades (centuries?) as students foster and develop their own unique perspectives on current Video Art practices.


The classroom will take the form of a laboratory as students develop their time-based creative practice. We will focus on individual productions, group projects and critical discussion as we create work that seeks to exhibit innovative visual, sonic and/or textual modes of expression with conceptual clarity and technological skill.

Informal and formal critiques of student work are central to this course and a high level of personal engagement and initiative is expected from all students. Technical workshops will be offered routinely during the semester and one-on-one tutorials will be arranged as needed.


Students in this course will be provided the opportunity to:

  • Gain a fundamental proficiency in communicating with a variety of digital media tools and processes.

  • Engage an inter-disciplinary and intermedia approach to time-based media.

  • Understand major critical, historical, and cultural issues in time-based media and art

  • Show an ability to discern artistic merit of diverse forms of art/design in their contexts.

  • Be able to defend critical interpretations concerning the significance of artistic expression.

  • Make valid assessments of quality and effectiveness in design projects and art works - especially their own. 

  • Create a portfolio of original time-based media art



  • Basic knowledge of photo editing, sound editing and video editing software.

  • User accounts with the school email service.


Screenings and Readings

Screenings will be done in-class and assigned readings are to be completed outside of class. We will discuss the readings in class in relation to specific video artworks and each other’s work. All students must participate in the readings by submitting at least one question to the class that acts as a prompt for discussion. Questions should NOT be directed at the instructor, but should be for your fellow students. 


Project 1, Your Evolving Website/Web Portfolio

Ongoing and due at the time of Final Critiques at the end of the semester.

For this class all students are required to have a website that will a serve as a core database to store media and provide documentation for all our class projects as well as a means of sharing your work, research and hyperlinking to sources that have informed your practice. Students are encouraged to create a website that has a use beyond the scope our class projects. This evolving website will not be formally critiqued or graded until the end of the semester. However, the class will collectively review the progress of each student’s website as part of our scheduled project critiques. 


(If you don’t already have a website your first priority will be to set one up. I recommend using WIX, a cloud-based web development platform. WIX is FREE and allows users to create HTML5 websites like this one.)


Project 2, The Art of the GIF

For this project students will introduce themselves to the class by participating in the creation of an animated GIF “Class Portrait”. A GIF (graphics interchange format) is a graphic image on a Web page that moves - for example, a twirling icon, an animated photograph or a brief clip from a video. Each student will explore a multiplicity of notions of what their self-portrait could be and then choose one of these to be published on the class website. 

Project 3, Appropriation and Remix (Culture-jamming/subvertising)

Propaganda is a powerful tool for politicians. Corporations, advertisers, cultural institutions and anyone who is looking to manipulate a story, but it is also the starting point for acts of subversion, humor, and creative resistance. Early examples of video art often featured the appropriation, deconstruction and manipulation of mass media and culture as a form of social critique. For this project we will attempt to find political and imaginative expression in re-editing and re-interpreting material  “harvested” from YouTube. Students will come away well-versed in the techniques and tricks used in remix works, including ripping videos, sampling and audio/video cut-ups. Details


This work will be uploaded and published to student websites or posted on a video-sharing website such as YouTube or Vimeo with a link on the student’s website.


Project 4, Transformation – Video as a Sculptural Medium

For this project students will explore the creative possibilities of using video projection as a tool for transforming objects and environments. By using video projectors in conjunction with Final Cut Pro and Adobe After Effects software we will “compose” projections that will turn everyday objects such as boxes, pillows, ceilings and doors - into display surfaces for video projection. What will the objects say? How will they act? What sorts of transformations can we make occur? Students are encourage to incorporate sound in this project. Details


This work will be documented with the class DSLR camera, edited and then added to each student’s individual web-based portfolio.

Project 5, Independent Project

For this project students will create a Digital Video/Sound artwork in a format of their choice. Students may choose to make their own extended video narrative, performing video object, immersive projection or interactive story that utilizes a collection videos or refined GIF animations, text and sound – or perhaps push the envelope further and create truly dynamic sensory experience! The objective is for students to showcase their ability to create a truly original work and to demonstrate their growing aesthetic sensibility with digital arts.


The work will be developed, produced and submitted in 2 parts:


  • Phase 1 - The written proposal. Student's will compose a brief written description of their proposed project and publish it on their website portfolio. This document will describe their method for capturing images and sounds: Will you use a DSLR or phone Camera? Will you draw the images? Take photos and animate them? Will you combine camera footage with appropriated images and sounds? Describe the mood or setting for the piece as best you can. Finally – a few visual and/or sonic references should be cited by providing URL’s of videos the class can watch. The screenings section of our website has a plethora of artists and examples – but student's are also welcome to show other examples. Surprise us! The point is that student's should be able demonstrate some  knowledge of the  history and current practices in the field of of Digital Video Art – As well as their understanding  of how to use the tools of the trade to achieve their desired results. Example

  • Phase 2 – Produce the work! Students and teacher will collaborate on bringing their imagined artwork to life. If the work requires installation like project 4, it will be documented with the class DSLR camera and students will be responsible for editing a brief video of the installed piece. Students will then post the finished video and/or video documentation on their individual web-based portfolios for critique.

Final Critiques

The class will collectively evaluate the functionality and form of the student's website as we navigate and review the body of work created over the past semester. Evidence of craftsmanship, intellectual growth and indications that the student has pushed conceptual boundaries and taken risks with their work will be taken into account.


As noted in the Project 1 description above, students are encouraged to create a website/web portfolio that has a use beyond the scope our class projects.


  • Participation  - 15%

  • Reading and Viewing Assignments  - 15%

  • Projects 2,3,4 and 5 - 10% = 40% total

  • Final Critique (Project 1) - 30%


Grading Criteria

  • F – Frequently late and/or absent. Insufficient participation. Little to no understanding of the materials covered in class.

  • D – Occasional lateness and more than one unexcused absence. Basic understanding of materials covered in class.

  • C – Occasional lateness. Demonstrated an understanding of materials covered in class. Failed to take risks. Work holds together. Makes only obligatory contributions to discussions

  • B – Always present. Work in on time. Demonstrated a solid understanding of materials covered in class. Was able to seek out new sources of inspiration and technologies and shared them with the class. Work has good form and content, and there is evidence of taking risks. This student has made interesting contributions to the class

  • A – Always present. Work in on time. Demonstrated a solid understanding of materials covered in class. Was able to seek out new sources of inspiration and technologies and shared them with the class. Work has good form and content, and there is evidence of taking risks. This student always makes interesting contributions to the class, and frequently leads class discussions 


One unexcused absence and your letter grade drops by one, i.e. from A to a B. Two unexcused absences and you will be dropped from the course. Two late arrivals without prior arrangements equals one unexcused absence. Students who have been absent are expected to have their work completed the class session following their return. To obtain an excused absence, you must both write the instructor in advance and bring in medical documentation. See also: Bridgewater State University’s Undergraduate Academic Policies


Accessibility Statement

In compliance with Bridgewater State University policy and equal access legislation, I am available to discuss appropriate accommodations that you may require as a student with a disability. Students will need to register with the Disability Resources Office in the Academic Achievement Center in the Maxwell Library to provide documentation of the disability, to determine reasonable academic accommodations, and obtain a letter of notification to faculty of the accommodations.

A Note on Perseverance

We will encounter frustrations as we deal with unexpected road-blocks and create workarounds that fit within our project schedule. These are important skills to practice as you will do the same when you leave school and enter the world of professional practice – whether it be art, business, academic pursuits, etc.  It is important to know you do not have to be a practicing or aspiring artist or designer to participate in this course. However you must be willing to explore how this medium allows you to develop and refine your unique means of expression.  As an instructor I cannot teach you the effort that is required to succeed in this class; It must come from your own desire and willingness to participate, create and grow.


Expectations and Other Class Policies

The majority of information we cover in this class is readily available online and a web search can provide answers to many of your immediate questions. Think for yourself, carefully review what you did and what trouble you’re having. Consult the resources section of this web site. Ask 2 friends that are sitting next to you.


And OF COURSE you can ask me!


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