Catalysts of Multimedia

Museum of Modern Art

“All those monster buildings, all that magnificent accumulation of human power and vitality, all that uneasiness, as though everyone were living on the edge of a precipice and how nice it would be to make a machine that would be conceived like Chinese fireworks, in total anarchy and freedom” – Jean Tinguely

Jean Tinguely, Homage to New York (1960), Sculpture Garden at the Museum of Modern Art, courtesy of Julie Martin

About Catalysts

Created for the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Catalysts: Artists Creating with Video, Sound, and Time, draws from extensive research into the history of art and technology, gathering hard-to-find archival materials and documents from landmark exhibitions of avant-garde performance, video, and sound art, as well as media installations and Internet art. The video works of more than a dozen artists including Bill Viola, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, Bruce Nauman, Vito Acconci, and Joan Jonas are streamed into MoMA’s online classroom: the first time such an extensive collection of classic work has been made available online. The course includes interviews with MoMA curators Paola Antonelli, Klaus Biesenbach, and Barbara London, along with Robert Whitman, Julie Martin, and Dore Ashton, who share their views and critical thoughts on media history.

Course Description

Catalysts: Artists Creating with Video, Sound, and Time explores the rich and diverse history of art and technology as viewed through exhibitions, performances, media archives, and collected works of The Museum of Modern Art. The course introduces students to the artistic movements, trends, and concepts of media history, and those who were seminal in its development. We’ll explore how artists, engineers, curators, and the public have participated in the explosive emergence of new media forms over the past half century. The course investigates the groundbreaking exhibitions that have taken place at MoMA from the 1960s to the present involving kinetic sculpture, video, sound, installation, performance, happenings, mixed media, and Conceptual, information, and communications art. The online class itself is an immersion in multimedia, drawing from new media resources to illustrate the creative process: video lectures, interviews with artists, scholars, and MoMA curators; rare archival film, video, and photographic works of art and documentation; and Web-specific projects. The course includes an extensive list of suggested readings, manifestos, artist websites, and media resources that demonstrate the often radically forward-looking nature of artistic, technological, and critical thought about the medium. Students keep an online blog journal to creatively record their own ideas and observations; participate in DIY projects; and, through online discussion, engage in dialogue focused on critical issues concerning the relationship between art, technology, and culture.

For more information, visit MoMA’s Website.

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