Core Practical

Approved Core Practical Courses

The Core Practical Course seek to provide students with a hands-on experience in Arts and Activism, allowing students to practice and develop their craft in a collaborative environment. These courses serve as a lab and incubator for testing out ideas and approaches, and for pushing students to dig deeply into their own work.

DEPARTMENT COURSE # COURSE: FACULTY:
Perf. Studies PERF-GT 4206 Performance Composition: Creative Activism Think Tank Jacques Servin
Perf. Studies PERF-GT 2804/2028 Creative Response: Performance Matters Karen Findley
Perf. Studies PERF-GT 2730 Performance Composition: Performing Identity Anna Deavere Smith
Art/Pub Policy ASPP-GT 2048 Community Collaborations (Photography) Lorie Novak
Art/Pub Policy ASPP-GT 2029 Conceptual Studio Karen Findley
Anthropology ANTH-GA 1218ANTH-GA 1219 Video Prod. Sem I
Video Prod. Sem II
Noelle Stout, April Strickland
Gallatin ELEC-GG 2435 What do you want to make, and How can you make it better? Nina Katchadourian
Gallatin CORE-GG 2023 Pro Sem: Works in Progress Matthew Gregory
Art and Art Professions ART-GE 2915 Graduate Projects in Studio Art (MFA): Anarchy and Imagination

COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

Performance Composition: Creative Activism Think Tank       

Creative activism: What works? What doesn’t? When creative actions do work, how and why do they? What enables certain actions to get more media attention than others? What is media attention good for, and how does it lead to change?

The professor has spent much of the last 15 years thinking about these questions, and has a few answers— but only a few. Far fewer, in fact, than you might expect. To answer more, this graduate seminar will begin with an in-depth historical and practical examination of the repertoire of creative activism, or what has variously been called “culture jamming,” “tactical media,” “useful mischief,” “tricksterism,” etc. We’ll try to get a full sense, together, of what this repertoire consists of, to understand what principles we think underlie it, etc. We’ll use the book Beautiful Trouble (which the professor has contributed to), and go on to read King, Gandhi, Alinsky, Solnit, and a number of other known and unknown writers who have written about creative activism.

We’ll try to answer interesting questions, decoct principles, etc. But the main point of the seminar (and the reason for the “think tank” in the name) will be to try to imagine new directions to take in each genre, or some of them, and maybe even build a sort of road map of creative activism. We’ll do this through brainstorms, thought experiments, and discussions with key practitioners.

Occasionally, thought experiments may lead us inexorably into action, and so actions will be one of the class outcomes. (Students will be invited to develop these projects in the Yes Lab—see http://yeslab.org/hemi for details.) Another outcome will be contributions to the Beautiful Trouble website when it launches, Actipedia.org, the Global Nonviolent Action Database, or some other new or existing public website or database.

Students may wish to enroll as well in the Creative Activism Thursdays speaker series course as well (a year- long, 2-credit course, with minor writing requirements), where some of the biggest scholars and practitioners of creative activism will come share their secrets. As speakers we expect to have the founder of Billionaires for Bush; some revolutionary Burmese monks; the founder of the Living Theater; and several others who will talk about their activist practice.

 

Performance Composition: Performance and Revolution       

What exactly is a revolution? What sorts of revolutions are there? How and when do revolutions start, and what do they need to succeed? What is success? What role does performance have in initiating, maintaining, and otherwise making revolutions successful? How are bystanders turned into participants, both in the street and online? When are demands possible or effective, and when does a lack of demands communicate better? When are visible leaders useful, and when not? We’ll start at the present moment, ask urgent questions about it, then move backwards to examine other moments, in hopes they can help us to answer those questions. Aside from reading historical and theoretical documents, students will be encouraged to perform interviews, do case studies, and develop documentary materials for their own scholarly and artistic work. Students will also have the option to assist in the conception and production of materials for the Yes Men’s new movie about revolution.

 

Creative Response: Performance Matters          

Performance Matters will consider what influences private and public performance, to consider what is performing, what we perform and how we perform. This class will look deeper into varying aspects of staging such as everyday experience, lists, menus, rituals, timing, gathering and collecting. Performing and communicating the body: gender, race and identification. Awareness of work in progress, process, such a text, script, online and improvisation will be utilized. The visual aspect of performing: such as accessories, design and costume. Listening, finding voice and giving and taking commands, and deviation from dominant norms of entertainment and product. Hopefully with deeper understanding, we will seek to challenge and stimulate our own creative content to produce original, thought provoking performance. Students will present their own work either individually or in groups, write about the theory and content of their production and have assigned readings to supplement their areas of concentration.

 

Community Collaborations                                               

COMMUNITY COLLABORATIONS is a Photography & Imaging and Art and Public Policy Course where the NYU students collaborate with teens in Lower Manhattan to create photo stories about their lives. Working in teams of two or three, the NYU students co-facilitate small workshops with teens from the Lower East Side Girls Club, East Side Community High School, and Norman Thomas High School. Digital cameras will be provided for the teens to photograph their families, friends, and communities to create photographic essays exploring their day-to-day lives, dreams, concerns, and social-political challenges. During the course time for NYU students, focus will be on workshop development, discussion of challenges, collaboration and supervision from the instructor. There will also be guest speakers and visits to other community-based art programs. Each group will create an online exhibition that will be added to the Community Collaborations website: http://photoandimaging.net/coco.

Groups with the teens meet two afternoons a week in addition to the course time. When you plan your schedule, make sure you have a minimum of two afternoons a week free from 3:30-6. (Saturdays may also a possibility.)

 

Conceptual Studio

This class is to consider artists, historical recording and the methods of art making that work outside of traditional norms; being time based, breaking expectations of the medium, the audience and or the placement and transaction in spectatorship. Other cultural mainstays such as interruptions, scrap books, outtakes, overheard conversation, the scandal, the accident will also be material for study. While examining and researching artifacts, footage, imagery, found objects that exist and resonate outside of the proposed point of focus we will look at the underlying meanings and the interruptions into our expectation of perception. After looking and studying examples students will create and design their own projects that can be performance, installation, new media or text based. Accompanying paper is also required.

 

Video Production Sem I

Yearlong seminar in ethnographic documentary video production using state-of-the-art digital video equipment for students in the Program in Culture and Media. The first portion of the course is dedicated to instruction, exercises, and reading familiarizing students with fundamentals of video production and their application to a broad conception of ethnographic and documentary approaches. Assignments undertaken in the fall raise representational, methodological, and ethical issues in approaching and working through an ethnographic and documentary project. Students develop a topic and field site for their project early in the fall term, begin their shooting, and complete a short (5- to 10-minute) edited tape by the end of the semester. This work should demonstrate competence in shooting and editing using digital camera/audio and Final Cut Pro nonlinear editing systems. Students devote the spring semester to intensive work on the project, continuing to shoot and edit, presenting work to the class, and completing their (approximately 20-minute) ethnographic documentaries. Student work is presented and critiqued during class sessions, and attendance and participation in group critiques and lab sessions is mandatory. Students should come into the class with project ideas already well-developed. Students who have not completed the work assigned in the first semester are not allowed to register for the second semester. There is no lab fee, but students are expected to provide their own videotapes. In addition to class time, there are regular technical lab sessions on the use of equipment.

 

Video Production Sem II

Yearlong seminar in ethnographic documentary video production using state-of-the-art digital video equipment for students in the Program in Culture and Media. The first portion of the course is dedicated to instruction, exercises, and reading familiarizing students with fundamentals of video production and their application to a broad conception of ethnographic and documentary approaches. Assignments undertaken in the fall raise representational, methodological, and ethical issues in approaching and working through an ethnographic and documentary project. Students develop a topic and field site for their project early in the fall term, begin their shooting, and complete a short (5- to 10-minute) edited tape by the end of the semester. This work should demonstrate competence in shooting and editing using digital camera/audio and Final Cut Pro nonlinear editing systems. Students devote the spring semester to intensive work on the project, continuing to shoot and edit, presenting work to the class, and completing their (approximately 20-minute) ethnographic documentaries. Student work is presented and critiqued during class sessions, and attendance and participation in group critiques and lab sessions is mandatory. Students should come into the class with project ideas already well-developed. Students who have not completed the work assigned in the first semester are not allowed to register for the second semester. There is no lab fee, but students are expected to provide their own videotapes. In addition to class time, there are regular technical lab sessions on the use of equipment.

 

Why do you want to make it, and How can you make it better?

This course is intended for Gallatin graduate students with a production component to their creative practice. At its heart, the class aims to pose difficult and productive questions that will help you understand your tendencies and priorities as an artist, the methods you employ, and where these are in the service of the work as opposed to where they stand in the way. The course starts with a series of exercises and assignments that explore the strategies and subject matter of each student in order to understand what has motivated and generated the work you have made thus far. The next set of assignments encourage you to work against the grain of the familiar to discover other solutions than the ones that might immediately appear to be the best ones. Towards the end of the terms, these various insights will be channeled into writing about your work that will be useful in the future context of an artist’s statement or project proposal essay. In the personal and lab-like atmosphere that this course hopes to cultivate, the class aims to connect Gallatin graduate students to each other’s work and practice, and to take advantage of the enormous importance that peer input can have on work in progress. Possible side effects include: getting unstuck, reengagement, enhanced motivation, collaboration.

 

Pro Seminar: Works in Progress: Criticism and the Creative Process

Historically, criticism has evoked in the artist a myriad of reactions from antagonism to apathy and everything between. Yet despite the inherent vulnerability that comes with having one’s work criticized, it is possible to constructively engage with and learn from criticism. This proseminar is designed for students interested in the visual, literary or performing arts. It is primarily intended for practicing artist/scholars who wish to explore how criticism may productively influence their creative process as well as understand their artwork and the role of criticism in a broader historical and theoretical context. In this class we will survey a range of readings that reveal issues about the history and changing purposes of criticism. Central to our exploration, however, is the requirement that each student create a piece of art (a screenplay, musical composition, painting, theatre performance, or other medium determined by the student’s concentration), which will receive criticism at various stages of development from a wide hierarchy of sources: peer, faculty, critics and experts in the field. Over the course of the semester, students will further develop their artwork in response to critique, while concurrently writing critically about their own work and work of their classmates. This iterative process of creation and criticism will provide an opportunity to deeply examine, through both theory and practice, the intersections between artist, audience, scholar and critic. Readings may include: John Berger’s Ways of Seeing ; Hans Hofmann’sSearch for the Real ; George Bernard Shaw’s The Sanity of Art ; Tolstoy’s What is Art? ; Oscar Wilde’s The Critic as Artist ; Liz Lerman’s Critical Response ; Richard Schechner’s Between Theatre & Anthropology ; W.M. Shrum’s Fringe and Fortune: The Role of Critics in High and Popular Art .

 

Graduate Projects in Studio Art (MFA): Anarchy and Imagination

Organized from the artist’s perspective , this class takes a speculative & critical look at the interrelation between anarchy & the imagination. Imagination is assumed to be the primary resource for artists, one that is best used by rejecting constraints through an attitude of limitlessness & radical personal freedom. It is celebrated for its ability to enable people to ‘think outside the box,’ to innovate & to surprise. Anarchy, as a social & political idea, receives a far more ambivalent welcome. From it’s linguistic roots meaning ’without a rule,’ it would seem to be a fellow traveler to the imagination, seeking to scale up the trans-formative potential of the imagination to a social & political scale. But if it is a change in scale, it is one that then challenges use to examine closely the implications of the imagination & to engage with the full complexity of anarchy. The course will explore these ideas through a range of texts by authors such as Andre Breton, Leo Tolstoy, Jean-Paul Sartre, Emma Goldman. Murray Rothbard, Murray Bookchin, David Graeber, & Hakim Bey. Finally, we will consider the questions of lawlessness, violence & insurrection by looking at the writings of Valerie Solanas, the Unibomber, Tiqqun & the Anonomous Collective.

 

 

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