Randall Packer | Course Information

Intermedia Studio

Syllabus - Spring, 2003

Friday, 1:00 - 6:00 PM
First class: January 17, 2002, B170 - Bunting Center (MICA)
Other class locations:
Peabody Conservatory of Music, #314, 3rd floor
JHU Donovan Room, 110 Gilman Hall
JHU Digital Media Center, Mattin Center for the Arts


Randall Packer (Coordinator): Professor of Electronic Art, Maryland Institute, College of Art, http://www.zakros.com/

Joan Freedman: Director, Digital Media Center, Johns Hopkins University

Greg Boyle: Professor of Computer Music, Peabody Conservatory of Music, http://gigue.peabody.jhu.edu/~boyle/


Linda Delibero: Director, Film and Media Studies Program, Johns Hopkins University

Directions to class Locations
Sample Project Proposal


InterMedia Studio is an experimental course offered jointly by the Maryland Institute College of Art, the Digital Media Center and the Film Program of Johns Hopkins University, and the Computer Music Department of the Peabody Conservatory of Music. The Studio is intended to encourage collaboration among student composers, performers, filmmakers, engineers, and artists at MICA, Johns Hopkins, and Peabody in a team environment, and to engage students in the investigation of a range of interdisciplinary multimedia projects, including networked, live performance, electronic theater, installation, video, and animation. As a long-range goal, the Studio is envisioned as an ongoing structure to bring music, visual arts and students of scientific disciplines together from MICA, Johns Hopkins and Peabody to promote and facilitate the creation of intermedia art and to further explore shared resources, joint research, and exhibition/performance opportunities.


Course Description

The Intermedia Studio is a laboratory for the research, creation and presentation of interdisciplinary electronic works. The Studio brings together students, faculty and technical personnel to provide a structure for the development of advanced projects and to give students experience in all facets of team-based production in the electronic, digital and media arts. Studio projects will be primarily student produced with additional input from faculty, visiting artists, and technical staff. The Studio will seek to integrate the artistic and technological resources of MICA, Peabody Conservatory of Music, and Johns Hopkins University.

The course will support collaborative projects among students in the music, visual, and media arts, as well as those working in various scientific and technological disciplines including biomedical, scientific imaging, computer science, mechanical and industrial engineering, etc. Together, students working in a diverse range of disciplines and artistic genres will explore the theoretical and practical problems inherent in the process of interdisciplinary collaboration. Students will focus on developing and implementing conceptual constructs and skills vital to cross-disciplinary work. Recognized media and sound artists, scientists and engineers engaged in contemporary art and technology will share new technological trends and explore issues critical to the exploration of emerging interdisciplinary forms.

The Intermedia Studio will meet weekly to discuss student projects, relevant topics in Intermedia art, performance and technology, and to coordinate productions. Projects will take the form of installation and performative work, with an emphasis on strategies for integrating sound and media in an interactive context.



The Intermedia Studio makes extensive use of the MAX/MSP/Jitter software environment (Cycling 74), a graphical set of programming tools that has a broad range of artistic application from electronic music to media installations. Originally developed at IRCAM (the computer music institute at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris) in the late 1980s, MAX became the basis for a surging interest in interactive computer music, and more recently used by visual artists interested in its capacity to engage viewer interaction within installation and performance environments.


Consent of the instructors.

Week 1 - 1.17.03: Introduction (MICA) (MICA students only)

Course information.


Week 2- 1.24: Overture (Peabody) (MICA and Peabody students)


Overview of course, documentation from previous semesters. Class exercise in collaboration.

Lecture: Intermedia - collective art as a vehicle for artistic and social transformation.

The history of intermedia, in which new relationships are forged between media and genre, has been the result of artists, composers, writers, choreographers, and others breaking free of the constraints of their unique disciplines. This urge to redefine the boundaries of artistic expression has involved collaboration, interaction, and the redefinition of aesthetics, tools, strategies, and audience. Today's art, perhaps more than ever, tends towards this integration, the result of countless collectives and art ensembles experimenting with the interaction between visual media, music, movement, theater, poetry, etc. Often this desire to experiment results from the artist need to redefine themselves in relation to society, the political establishment, in order to voice their social and artistic aspirations.

The following is an overview of key artists and artistic movements, historical and contemporary who illustrate these ideas and trends:

Billy Klüver - collaboration between the artist and the scientist.

Fluxus - Radical implementation of Happenings and Intermedia forms.

Alan Kaprow - Used the Happening to dissolve the distinction between artist and viewer.

John Cage - Created a new form of theater that established an ensemble of multi-disciplinary artists.

Nam June Paik - Performance art as a critique of our increasingly technological society.

Pavel Curtis - Adapted on-line environments to investigage new forms of social interaction.

Pierre Lévy - Media Philosopher who has predicted the artist of the future as one who creates a system of communication to produce collective events in cyberspace.

Jodi - Prototypical artist collective of the new media and the net who create information systems that inhabit your computer.

Peter Weibel - Artist and media theorist who organized an Internet exhibition that investigated the utopian promise of the new media for artistic and social transformation.

RTMARK - Artistic collective of political activists who have employed the net to encourage activism and radical change.

Critical Art Ensemble - A collective of artists, media theorists, and technologists who generate a variety of projects from installations to books to performances.

Zakros InterArts - Arts company led by Randall Packer now based in Washington, DC. A recent project includes Mori - an Internet-based sound installation.


Reading: Overture - Multimedia: From Wagner to Virtual Reality

Week 3 - 1.31: Defining Intermedia (Johns Hopkins)

Overview and discussion of key concepts in the definition of multimedia/intermedia. Class exercise in collaboration.

Overture on-line.

Key Concepts and definitions:

Integration: the combining of artistic forms and technology into a hybrid form of expression.

example: Total artwork of Richard Wagner

Interactivity: the ability of the user to manipulate and affect his or her experience of media directly, and to communication with others through media.

example: Reponsive environment of Myron Krueger

Hypermedia: the linking of separate media elements to one another to create a trail of personal association.

example: Hypertext of Ted Nelson, Grammatron by Mark Amerika

Immersion: the experience of entering into the simulation or suggestion of a three-dimensional environment.

example: Surrogate travel of Michael Naimark

Narrativity: aesthetic and formal strategies that derive from the above concepts, which result in nonlinear story forms and media presentation.

example: "Zero gravity" of Laurie Anderson


Reading: Intermedia, Richard Higgins; Great Northeastern Power Failure, Billy Klüver

Week 4 - 2.7: History of Intermedia (MICA)

A history of intermedia forms through the 20th century. These works include: Karlheinz Stockhausen's Originale (1961), Variations V by John Cage (1964); and the Pepsi Pavilion(1970), a collaboration of over 75 artists and engineers organized by Billy Klüver and E.A.T.

Class exercise in collaboration.

  Reading: Diary - 1966, John Cage

Week 5 - 2.14: Sound (Peabody)

Exploration of media: sound - Introduction to computer music techniques in Max/MSP.

Final project collaboration groups are formed.

  Reading: Modalities of Interactivity and Virtuality, Jeffrey Shaw

Week 6 - 2.21: Moving Image (Johns Hopkins)

Exploration of media: moving image - Overview of the moving image in the context of interactive media. Introduction to Jitter.

Project group brainstorming session.


Reading: "Changing Space: Virtual Reality as an Arena of Embodied Being," Char Davies

Week 7 - 2.28: Space + Time (MICA)


Exploration of media: space + time - Discuss of interactive environments and the composition of virtual space in relation to the viewer.

Complete project group brainstorming and presentation of project ideas.

  Work on full project proposals over break.

Week 8 - 3.21: Final project (MICA)
  Group review of project proposals, complete and turn in.
  Prepare for final project presentation (instructors will provide feedback).

Week 9 - 3.28.02: Final project (Hopkins)
  Discussion and class critique of project poposals (15 minutes for each group)

Work on final projects.

Week 10 - 4.4: Final project (on-site)
  Work on final projects.

Week 11 - 4.11: Final project (on-site)




Work on final projects.


Week 12 - 4.18: Final project (on-site)

Work on final projects.

Week 13 - 4.25: Final project (on-site)
  Complete final projects.

Week 14 - 5.2: Final project (on-site)
  Post-presentation critique.

Week 14 - 5.9: Final project presentation
Intermedia Festival
  Mattin Center for the Arts
Digital Media Center
Johns Hopkins University
4 - 6 pm
Final Critique
  Digital Media Center
Johns Hopkins University
6 - 8 pm

Course Resources

MICA: computer labs for media production.

Peabody: computer music studio with ProTools for editing and recording, computer music lab with audio/MIDI workstions, Max/MSP/NATO is available in both facilities.

JHU Digital Media Center: labs for video, multimedia and sound production.

JHU Film Program: film and video production.

Assignments and Grading

Class Discussion and Presentation (25%)

Each student is required to participate in class discussion and submit a written assignment.

Project Proposal (25%)

Students will hand in a group proposal for final projects.

Final Project (50%)

A final project will consist of a full developed team project that draws from concepts and techniques explored in the course. Students will select an area to work in including: animation, video, installation, network, etc.

Required Reading

Multimedia: From Wagner to Virtual Reality (W.W. Norton 2001)
Edited by Randall Packer and Ken Jordan

Available in the MICA and JHU bookstores.

Website: http://www.artmuseum.net/w2vr/contents.html