MIT MUSIC AND THEATER ARTS SECTION AND THE CENTER FOR ADVANCED VISUAL STUDIES
21M.714 (undergraduate) Special Topics in Theater Arts and 21M.865 (graduate) Research in Theater
PERFORMANCE, ART, TECHNOLOGY
TTH 1-2 PM
INSTRUCTOR: John Bell
TA: Alex Rosenberg, firstname.lastname@example.org
FIRST MEETING: Tuesday, February 5, 1 p.m.
Performance, Art, Technology will pursue its subject in two modes. Half of the course is devoted to seminar-style discussion of issues related to the historical roles of technology in performance, technology as performance, and technology as the subject of performance; the other half is the studio-style development of student performance pieces involving technology and the issues raised by its interplay with the history of performance. In general, Tuesdays will be spent presenting and discussing in-class performances, while Thursdays will be spent discussing readings, films, and short student writings about the historical contexts of performance, art, and technology.
Performance pieces will explore such methods as shadow theater, automata, toy theater, panorama and picture performance, mechanical ballets, happenings, and automobile performance. A large end-of-semester project will involve the design and performance of installations and mechanical object pieces as part of Professor Thomas DeFrantz's Jazz All Over MIT production, which will take place in and around the McLaurin, Dorrance, and Dreyfus buildings.
Discussions and responsive writings will focus on texts by Plato, Ibn al-Jazari, Walter Benjamin, Heinrich von Kleist, George Maciunas, Enrico Prampolini, F. T. Marinetti, Alan Kaprow, Oskar Schlemmer, Tom Wolfe, and Kenneth Anger; as well as various films and videotapes about 19th-century media performance, Survival Research Laboratories, Burning Man, Bauhaus, Indian popular performance and other subjects.
The trajectory of the course will examine the overall functions of technology in different societies in different times, the cultural effects of technology in the West during and after the Industrial Revolution, and the ideologies of modernism connected to technology as they emerge in various performance practices.
This course is open to both graduate and undergraduate students, from MIT and affiliated institutions. However, since the course has a limited enrollment, priority will be given to those registered. Please address inquiries to Teaching Assistant Alex Rosenberg at email@example.com.
John Bell is a puppeteer, scholar, and teacher whose interests combine practice and theory. He started performing as a puppeteer with the
Bread and Puppet Theater
and as a member of that company for over a dozen years learned about the global breadth of puppetry. Recognized as one of the preeminent historians of puppet theater in the US, he performs, directs, and otherwise collaborates with
Great Small Works
, a Brooklyn-based theater collective. He is the author of Strings, Hands, Shadows: A Modern Puppet History (Detroit Institute of Art), edited Puppets, Masks, and Performing Objects (MIT Press), and is currently working on American Puppet Modernism, a study of US confrontations with puppet and object theater over the past 150 years.