Mediaworks: Experimental and Documentary Approaches to the Moving Image

Fall 2019
Winter 2020
Spring 2020
Class Size: 44
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

media arts, photography, visual studies
Julie Russo square
media studies, gender & women's studies, sexuality and queer studies
Suree Towfighnia
documentary film

What does it mean to study and create moving images in this age of media proliferation, saturation and commodity culture? What is a "critical practice" of media? How do we slow down our perception, tune our senses, cultivate patience, deepen our attention, and listen more closely to each other and the world around us? How do we put these capacities to work in our critical practices to test the boundaries of traditional approaches to media, participate in vital conversations, and strengthen historically marginalized perspectives? What ethical challenges and responsibilities are at the core of our practice? How have historical and contemporary media artists addressed these questions? What kind of critical practitioners do we want to become? 

We will engage with these questions as we define and cultivate our artistic voices. Working within broad definitions of nonfiction and experimental media, we will sharpen essential skills of observation, research, collaboration, reading and writing, design and production, critique and reflection. We will experiment with autobiography, documentary, soundscapes, and video essays, both individually and collaboratively; gain technical skills in studio and field production; produce short works in film, video and sound; and weave together a media practice from a wealth of philosophical, cultural, historical, and material perspectives. We will explore strategies of challenging dominant forms and stereotypes and develop fluency in media analysis and criticism. 

In fall and winter quarters, we will laying the theoretical and practical foundations essential to all students studying art and media, with particular attention to skills how we interpret and make meaning. We will engage in field observation, critical analysis, and research, and apply these in photography, 16mm film and video. Class sessions include lectures, screenings, conceptual, technical and writing workshops, seminar, and critique. We will engage substantially with the development of close reading, viewing and listening skills as well as writing skills as we analyze and critique historical and contemporary films and texts. This practice will help us deepen our vocabulary and capacity to articulate ourselves verbally. All of these skills are essential to the practice of group critique; we will significant time in critique helping each other see, describe, evaluate and improve our creative and written work.  

In spring, as a culmination of the year’s work, we will design and produce nonfiction/experimental media projects individually or collaboratively in the wide range of media and forms covered in previous quarters: short film/video, installation, or performance. In lieu of or alongside a smaller project, students will have the opportunity to pursue an internship. We will support our creative practice by participating in weekly critiques, visiting artist presentations, screenings, and technical workshops. At the end of spring quarter, we will organize and host a public screening of our spring projects.


This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

media art, visual art, journalism, communication, education, community studies, and the humanities


Credits per quarter


No media skills are required, but intermediate college level reading, writing and critical thinking skills are necessary. An additional prerequisite is successful completion of at least two quarters of college-level studies spanning multiple disciplines. This could be satisfied by Evergreen interdisciplinary programs or classes at Evergreen or elsewhere that provide breadth. Students must complete and submit an application in order to demonstrate that they have fulfilled these prerequisites. 

Online learning:
  • Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Fall:$350 for overnight field trip, winter: $50 for museum fee and motor pool, spring: $50 for museum fee and motor pool.

Internship Opportunities:

In spring quarter, students may choose to do an internship in a local or regional organization focusing on media production, media education, or a related subject. Students must complete an in-program Internship Learning Contract in consultation with the faculty and Academic Advising by the end of winter quarter. Please go to Individual Study for more information.

Class Standing: Sophomore–Senior
Class Size: 44

Scheduled for: Day

First meeting:

Monday, September 30, 2019 - 9:00 am
Com 326 - Screening Room

Located in: Olympia

May be offered again in: