Art History and Actuality / Media (B2)

De erg

Professors: Maxime Jean-Baptiste, Isabel Burr Raty

This course is a general introduction to several classical and contemporary artistic practices that re-appropriate technology as a medium and, in turn, generate works of art that use new materials in order to reflect on the agency of a variety of species. This course will focus on two notions: reenactment and resistance.

Maxime Jean-Baptiste will be in charge of the first quadrimester, which will be centered on the notion of reenactment. This term could refer a reactive tradition, mainly based on role-playing, oriented toward the historical reconstitution of passed events or eras as popular entertainment; in addition, we will find out that this form functions as a reinterpretation of the official, patriotic and patriarchal history, as well as a deconstruction of the old and new media that have shaped it. The reenactment of history can be more than a mere representation or imitation: it may also refer to the active unearthing of persisting past trauma that re-emerge in our present time under unnamable forms of violence, in order to collectively transform them. We will study and discuss several art works as well as literary and theoretical texts whose urgency and relevance allow for a rethinking the ambiguous relationship between art and media, using examples such as the Maroon societies, works by Frantz Fanon, Sarah Maldoror, Angela Davis, Gil-Scott Heron, Peter Watkins, the Black Audio Film Collective, Trinh T. Minh Ha, Achille Mbembe, Jeremy Deller, Pedro Costa, the Centre for Historical Reenactments, Karrabing Film Collective, Milo Rau, Le peuple qui manque, Childish Gambino…

Isabel Burr Raty will be in charge of the second quadrimester. This part of the course will start as a historical journey through the artistic technologies devised by indigenous cultures, adapted by minorities living in a state of resistance and excluded from the “official” artistic production, such as the Easter Island Rapa Nui community, the Mapuche people in Chile, or the Zapatista community in Mexico. After understanding the “technology of art” as it developed within a “struggle for survival”, we will explore the notion of “resistance” in artistic practices lying at the core of new media movements such as hybrid art, digital art, mechatronic art, xenofeminist art, bio art, ecofeminist art — all of which develop their own technologies or technological approaches, inscribed in a reflection on non-human agency, matter- and material-oriented ontology, multispecies aesthetics, post-humanism, the Anthropocene and climate change among others.


- Providing an introduction to the history of new media arts, with a special focus on artistic practices using or re-creating technology in order to re-appropriate it.

- Opening the imagination around the creative potentialities of technology and expanding the notions of matter beyond the established paradigms of interaction.

- In the course, the students will learn to reflect on the development of their own practices.

Evaluation modes and criteria

- Oral exam and written essay.

Teaching method

- Individual research

- Group dynamics, presentations and readings

- Exhibition and performance visits

- Guests (conditional)