2018-19, 2021-22 Intermedia: Art and Materiality in the 1960s and 70s University College London, Department of History of Art, 20 weeks MA special subject

This course interrogates the temporal and relational materiality of artworks created in the spirit of Fluxus and other avant-garde aesthetic movements of the1960s and 70s. It considers the intermedial approach as a historical framework, a critical mindset, and a ground on which the notions of media, matter, materiality, and meaning will be scrutinized. In lectures, discussions, workshops and site visits, we will question the validity of traditional distinctions between the media as art categories, tools, and physical carriers. We will criticize the modernist myth of media purity, investigate the obsolete media’s redemptive quality and, finally, attempt to relocate the medium in an ever more pluralistic world of artistic expression. 

Fluxus objects, events, scores, performances, and ephemera will form the “artifactual” backbone of this course. The apparent permanence of objects and artefacts will be juxtaposed by the transitoriness of events and performances, as well as electronic media, notably television and video that were introduced in the 1960s within and outside the Fluxus circles. Notions of plural and singular arts, artistic and vehicular media, authenticity, uniqueness and originality, transition and recursion, agency and actancy will be theorised against the backdrop of the material persistence of artworks. 

The theoretical framework of this course will be enriched by the discussions of the institutional operations of mediation, display and care for cultural objects (and “quasi-objects,”). We will delve into conservation as a techno-socio-cultural activity and practice which is inherently participative, generative, and knowledge-building. Rather than pursuing artworks as inactive lumps of matter (or “im-matter”) waiting to be acted on by intelligent human beings, we will ask, what are the conditions of possibility for artworks to become active, acting, and agential—entities with properties, causalities, and affordances that delineate human behavior and subjectivity? Can the human-thing boundary be dissolved? Does curation and conservation of agential objects mean allowing them to fully dictate their conditions of care? 

Among the artists discussed will be George Brecht, John Cage, Philip Corner, Robert Filliou, Arthur Köpcke, Dick Higgins, Alison Knowles, Shigeko Kubota, George Maciunas, Jackson Mac Low, Shiomi Mieko, Yoko Ono, Ben Patterson, Nam June Paik, Dieter Roth, Takako Saito, Tomas Schmit, Daniel Spoerri, Ben Vautier, and Wolf Vostell. In addition to regular coursework, expect group exercises, performances, art-making, and creative writing. Circumstances permitting, we will tour Fluxus collections in Germany. 

2016-19, 2022  Methodologies of Making, University College London, Department of History of Art, 10 weeks level 2 module

This module focuses on the experimental system of art making, remaking, collecting, mediating, and conserving. It encompasses readings and discussions centred around theories related to the materiality and the immaterial, makers and their tools, the workings of institutions and collections, alongside the notions of time and archive. For the most part, classes will begin with a lecture followed by a discussion. In the first part of the class, students will be introduced to theories of making exemplified by artworks and artefacts related to one of the main topics of the module. In the the second part of the class, students might be asked to bring and discuss an example of an artwork or an artefact, to develop a statement drawing on the readings, or to engage in structured debates on the topic of the class. How is theory performed? How is it entangled with practice? How can we theorise practice or develop a practical aesthetics?

2018-19, 2021 Introduction to Media and Technology, University College London, Department of History of Art, 10 weeks level 2 module

This course offers an overview of technologies used to create artworks and cultural objects, from early modernity to the present. These might include but will not be limited to print technologies, still and moving image–photography, video, televised media – and mechanical and electronic projection devices. From paints, prints, daguerreotypes and celluloid strips through electromagnetic signals to bit steams, students are introduced to the materiality of communication. Challenging the traditional genealogies of media, we explore the media’s material histories, affordances, and the limits of their use. This class provides a foundation for a profound understanding of the methods and materials used by the makers, at different times and in a multitude of locations, and under consideration of social and technological contexts.

2017-19 Theory and History of Conservation, University College London, Department of History of Art, 10 weeks level 2 module

When thinking about artworks and artifacts, conservation provides an extensively rich area of study of their modes of conception, creation, dissemination, display and perpetuation. This is due to the premise that in order to engage with an artwork, conservation first and foremost seeks to understand what the work is and how it functions within and beyond its historic moment. Outsiders often refer to conservation as a homogenous field of activity that aims at prolonging the cultural objects’ lives into the future. But there are, in fact, different conservations that operate with respect to diverse theories, types of artifacts, institutional settings, historic contexts, and the cultures that produce them. We will sketch a picture of conservation that always exists somewhere between a set of dichotomies of hands and minds, practice and theory, the tangible and the intangible, and the traditional and the new. By putting today’s conservation into an historical perspective, we will examine how the attention paid to materials and materialities effectuated from the persistence of science and how new conservation became of necessity a reflective, critical practice.

2016-18  Methods, Materials, Materialities, University College London, Department of History of Art, 10 weeks level 2 module

This course addresses methods and materials employed by the artist, with a particular emphasis on artistic developments of the second half of the 20th century. It focused on the heterogeneous assemblages of installation art, Land art and earthworks, and technology-based media such as film, video, television, and software-based art. Food and biodegradable art, and art based on the implementation of the human body will offer an insight into organic materiality, while Conceptual art based on a pure idea will (paradoxically) reveal the significance of material support. The course expands on the issue of decay, degradation, and alteration of materials, and the aspect of technological obsolescence in order to draft conclusions regarding the complex correlation between the materiality of artworks and their meaning as anchored in this very materiality.

2016-2020 Art, Work, Space, University College London, Department of History of Art, 10 weeks level 2 work placement module

In this module, final-year students in the program History of Art, Materials and Technology (MAT) explore institutions around London where art is acquired, exhibited, cataloged, archived, and conserved. It is the aim to develop a considered response both to the immediate experience and to topics and issues in the MAT program as a whole. This way we hope that students will emerge better acquainted with the relationship between art history as a discipline taught in the university environment and the variety of spaces in which many students might expect to work following graduation.

Placements have been identified in private galleries, museums, conservation studios and elsewhere (e.g. UCL Art Museum, UCL Paper Conservation, the British Film Institute, The British Library, Wellcome Library and Archives, the National Trust, ArtVisor). Students will be able to choose an area (trade, curatorial practice, conservation, etc) and attach themselves to an institution or a business for a period of time. They will, following discussions with tutors, develop a research topic and write an independent study essay. 

Spring 2015  Revisions: Art, Materiality, and Continuity in Fluxus, Bard Graduate Center, Andrew W. Mellon curriculum, 12 weeks elective graduate course

This course interrogates the materiality of artworks and artifacts created in the spirit of Fluxus and other avant-garde aesthetic movements of the1960s and 70s, with a special emphasis on Nam June Paik’s first Fluxfilm, Zen for Film (1962-64). Participants will engage in the planning and development of the upcoming Focus Gallery exhibition In Focus: Revisions—Zen for Film and its digital components. We will examine the ways in which the archive (as a conceptual space and a place of consignation), the document, and the trace partake in the life of the artwork from an array of perspectives. We will seek to identify the conditions that determine curatorial, presentation and conservation cultures, leading to the emergence of a multifold character of the artwork, evident in its many manifestations. While largely practically oriented, this course combines methods of art history, material culture studies, philosophy, and the theory and practice of conservation.

Spring 2014 Beyond the Object Principle: Object, Event, Performance, Process, Bard Graduate Center, Andrew W. Mellon curriculum, 12 weeks elective graduate course

The emergence of new forms of artistic expression in the 1960s and 70s has introduced new perspectives not only to museum presentation and collection practice, but also to conservation. Conservation philosophies and principles have been increasingly challenged by shifting paradigms of what once was acknowledged as the unique, singular, or authentic ‘object.’ As a result, today’s museum curators and conservators must adopt a diversified approach in order to engage seriously with new forms of cultural heritage that change our conception of the object and its relation to world, transfiguring our understanding of what and how it once was. This course will employ the prisms of art, cultural and conservation theories to focus on the challenges of conserving and presenting artworks and artifacts that may be better understood as events, performances, and processes. We will reevaluate the meaning of the ‘conservation object’ by exploring its relation to conceptions of time, archive and identity. The participants will be asked to prepare oral presentations and submit a term paper or virtual presentation. The course is conceived as a preparation for the Focus Gallery Project.

Fall 2013 & 2014 Cultures of Conservation I&II: Between Object and Subject—On Sites Rites and Paradigm, Bard Graduate Center, Andrew W. Mellon curriculum, 12 weeks elective graduate course

What is conservation?  Simplistic as it may seem, this question has many possible answers. From the contemporary perspective, conservation no longer aims simply to prolong its objects’ material lives but is seen as an engagement with materiality—that is, with the many specific factors determining how objects’ identity and meaning are entangled with the aspects of time, the environment, ruling values, politics, economy, conventions, and culture. Accordingly, this course explores diverse cultures of conservation derived from anthropological-humanistic, aesthetic, and scientific approaches. Centered around the conservation of a variety of artworks and artifacts, our discussion will examine the challenges of traditional and contemporary materials and the so-called ‘new’ and technology-based media. We will explore the conservation cultures of multiple institutions and stakeholders, and examine the historical conditions that have shaped conservation discourse and theory, especially as reflected in the split between scientific and humanistic cultures and the move from objects to subjects. teaching