[NetBehaviour] Fun with Education: New Media Teaching, Florida, 2001-2002

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Sat Apr 17 09:49:06 CEST 2021

Fun with Education: New Media Teaching, Florida, 2001-2002


[This course was a dismal failure: no equipment, no internet
in the building, no drop-ceiling, termites, no airconditioning
- and this in Florida - anyway, what I was thinking and how
stupid I was to think I could teach under these conditions -
I actually had high student evaluations except for one student
who was the niece of the president of a South American country
who didn't turn in her evaluation but left it for me to see in
the room and it was absolutely a horrendous attack on me and
the class and even the possibility of a class - for example
having to pay lab fees when there wasn't any equipment or any
reason to do that or to do anything else for the course for
example and she was absolutely right, but without that
evaluation, as I say above, I was sterling.]

New Media Course:

Alan Sondheim, Office 371A DM. Call between noon and 2 am.
Meetings will be in W10, room 105 on the west side of the

[Away from all the liberal arts and arts buildings, sometimes
muddy in the rain.]

Book: Michael Rush, New Media in Late 20th-Century Art,

Please note attendance is mandatory and part of your grade.
You are also required to have an email address - and to check
your email at least several times a week. Some of the class
participation is online.

[Attendance was good, except - see below.]


a. If you have not taken the course before - there are two
projects - one due at the end of the course, and one at the
midway point. Midway: A piece in any non-traditional medium
(performance, sound, video, computer, html) dealing with
either: Issues of self; or: Light; or: Shark Valley in the

[The one video camera broke down in the first few weeks; it
was a Sony amateur one; the two Macs weren't online and were
out of date; the still camera was a Sony amateur one as well;
we did have access to computers at a lab elsewhere on the
campus, but weren't allowed to install any media programs, so
they were useless; there were droppings from the termites
eating away at the ceiling beams on the floor which was raw
cement with dead lizards and insects stuck to it because the
flooring was never finished and there was garbage that wasn't
picked up in a corner of the place, which had only a tin roof
so the heat was terrific and the noise moreso in the rain.]

Final: A work or works in any non-traditional medium dealing
with a subject of your choice; you should have decided this by
the mid-February, and you should be prepared to report on your
progress during the class periods.

[Provided of course you showed up in the first place; most
students did, but one, an international beauty-content winner,
came only twice and threatened me at the end if I didn't give
her an A, and I said go ahead because I've been fired anyway.]

b. If you have taken the course before - you may continue
working on your projects, as determined previously.

[There was no way you could have taken this course before and

This course will consist of several components:

1. Going through the Michael Rush book in the beginning;
    looking at other work; looking at work on the Internet -
    and work designed for the Internet.

[Good book on new media art. We couldn't really look at the
internet in the classroom and the computer labs were public so
we couldn't meet there.]

2. An overview of the Internet and the work presented on and
    through it; this involves the history, demographics, and
    culture of the Net, presented in brief.

[Easy to talk through this, students could look at things at
home or in their dorms, maybe. But of course no in-class

3. Learning the components of the digital video studio - these
    include:  Premier, Imovie, Movieshaker, Moviemaker, and
    FinalCut Pro. You do not have to know these in depth, but
    if you are working in video, you should try and learn at
    least one of these well.

[One of the students did amazingly well with Blender,
importing video into it; I remember some other beautiful work,
shot, elsewhere - one woman was a synchronized swimmer and had
her own camera, shot from windows in the pool and it was
breath-taking. Other people were doing performance art that
was also great; the students by and large made the best of a
bad situation.]

4. Learning about the other components available: audio
    including Audiomulch and Soundforge; imaging including
    Gimp and Photoshop; 3d modeling with Blender and
    Mathematica; and anything else that might be of use to you
    in your projects.

[See above re: Blender. I think I managed to get a Mathematica
license for myself.'

You are not expected to be an expert in any of these programs;
you are expected to be self-motivated if you want to explore
or use any of them in depth. Please note that the course is
not program-based, but is concerned instead with the entire
new media area.

[I was told that the university said each department had to be
self-supporting, so the head of mine told me she had spoken to
her next-door neighbor who was a Sony executive, and my
students would have to design cd covers for the company. I
explained neither I nor my students had any ability in this
direction, and the course wasn't about product design, perhaps
another reason I was fired.]

5. Learning how to use microphones, digital still cameras, and
    video cameras, well. We will cover camera/sound techniques.

[Well, we more or less didn't, but used a lot of bricolage.]

6. Learning how and where to distribute new media work.

[We did some of that.]

Please do not expect this course to be highly-structured! It
isn't - it will depend on the work you yourself bring in
during the semester; on work I will bring in to show in class;
on URLs I send out to you on the Net through email - you
should go to the sites themselves; and on any other
possibilities that might come up during the year.

[When I was fired, one of the faculty told me that at a
faculty meeting, the other teachers were told that I was let
go and there was to be no discussion. I was also told that a
deal was made to get rid of the new media area if the
department could get rid of me. It seemed a reasonable deal.
When I met with the faculty union representative, she told me
it was the worst situation she had heard of. We left at the
end of the school year by which time I was both in open revolt
and going through a nervous breakdown. I actually ended up in
the hospital, a doctor friend thinking I might have had a
heart attack, but it was only panic that I turned into an art
piece, but that's another story.]


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