Media Art History 2013-2014

Tutor: Barbara Sonvilla, MA (, Kari Yli-Annala (

Course code: tk0266

Credits and structure of studies: 4 ECTS (submission of assignments) or 6 ECTS (assigments + final essay)

Course Description:

This course is a quick guide to the history of media art. It explores the many ways in which artists have used new technologies and media from the 1920s up to the present. It aims to serve as an introduction to the aesthetics & practices of media art, by introducing the work of some of the most outstanding artists.

Historical derivations are tight to digital art in compelling ways:

The course begins with the exploration of the technological visions of the early avant-garde period, such as the German absolute film; animation films and commercials of the 1930s; the Russian film avant-garde of the same period; and the grand masters of abstract cinema in the US. We will explore the beginnings and aesthetics of video art & feminist performance video art.  We will examine strategies of interactivity and immersion in large-scale media installations; closed-circuit video systems and the rhetorics of surveillance in contemporary art.

The course aims to foster the understanding of the role of media within the arts and the present media culture as a whole. Knowing its roots, development and achievements means understanding contemporary media culture better.


  • Early abstract film and the “Absolute Film” Matinee
  • The Ideologization of Utopia – “The Man with a Movie Camera”
  • The pioneers of electronic art -  Whitney, Paik & Latham
  • Practices of video art – narration, immersion, interactivity, feminism
  • Closed circuit – confronting the viewer with their own image
  • The Rhetorics of Surveillance

eMode of Tuition:

This course is a blended-learning course, combining VLE-based self-study and five face-to-face lecture meetings.

Course Intended Learning Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Describe what media art is, and classify different genres of media art.
  2. Describe the influence of technological developments on the aesthetics and discourses of art.
  3. Have gained expanded ideas of its multiple perspectives and historical derivations.
  4. Appraise and evaluate milestones and pioneers of media art.
  5. Have gained a comprehensive introduction to this subject.

Assessment criteria:

  1. Students will be asked to submit written assignments related to each of the five topics in order to gain 4 ECTS.
  2.  Participation in lecture meetings.
  3. Maintaining a course journal, to be posted on Moodle VLE.
  4.  Essay (optional) based on student choice and interest, in order  to gain 6 ECTS


This course will start on September 9 (VLE opens up)and will end on November 22, 2013 (VLE closes down).

Online tutoring on VLE Moodle will be available during the entire period of the course.

Lecture meetings will be held in two blocks:

  1. lecture on Friday, September 13 (Barbara Sonvilla)
  2. lecture on Monday, September 16 (Barbara Sonvilla)
  3. lecture on Thursday, September 19 (Barbara Sonvilla)
  4. lecture on Monday, October 14 (Barbara Sonvilla)
  5. lecture on Friday, October 18 (Barbara Sonvilla)
  6. lecture on Monday, October 21(Kari Yli-Annala)
  7. lecture on Wednesday, October 23 (Kari Yli-Annala)
  8. lecture on Friday, October 25 (Kari Yli-Annala)

Time: 17:00 – 18:30 hrs.                    Room: PR 5005