Thinking Through Art and Design@Berkeley: The Bay Area Experimental Media Arts Underground

Jeffrey Skoller (Film and Media Studies)
  • MW 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
  • BAM/PFA Art Museum Auditorium
  • 3 Units
Letters and Science 25 (class number 26168)

Breadth: Arts and Literature

The San Francisco Bay Area has long been the epicenter for the most adventurous artistic exploration and innovation in the media arts. Media Artists and creative inventors from all over the world have been drawn to the freewheeling spirit of the Bay area artists' underground, in which there have been few rules beyond a commitment to bold experimentation and the art of the new!

This course focuses on the rich history and tradition of the Bay Area’s alternative, underground and experimental media arts communities and the ways they have transformed modern art and media culture of the last half century.

In the course we will see and hear from a range of media artists, curators, critics and thinkers, who will present their work in a range of media forms in film, video art, photography, computer and sound art and performance.

We will explore the idea of experimentalism as art making without a net; a risk-taking approach to creative expression and a philosophical position that emphasizes art as process and invention over product and professional mastery. We will also look beyond the artwork itself to explore the kinds of creative subcultures and underground communities that this approach to art making has produced.

We look at the notion of underground media art as a laboratory free from the constraints of the media industries and explore the rich history of artist-created collectives, media arts organizations and alternative exhibition spaces as well as the role of a range of Bay Area arts institutions in which artists have worked and studied. We explore the ways these kind of underground practices “trickle-up” to the mainstream, and have become integral to the aesthetic languages of Hollywood, Silicon Valley,and the music, fashion and advertising industries.