module specification

SJ6070 - Artists' Film and Video (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Artists' Film and Video
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 150
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
105 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   3000 word Essay
Coursework 50%   5-7 min. Moving image project
Running in 2017/18 No instances running in the year

Module summary

This module explores a range of cinematic practices which may be described as: ‘avant-garde’, ‘underground’ and ‘experimental’ through a series of screenings and lectures and through practical exercises, making links with other cinema histories and with contemporary artists’ film and video work.

Module aims

This module aims to:

• introduce students to the related fields of experimental film and contemporary artists' video and new media practice, creating an awareness of key avant-garde movements and/or filmmakers and of artists using video

• investigate these practices using a range of critical theory from both film studies and related disciplines such as philosophy and visual culture

• provide students with a good basic knowledge of relevant histories of artists' film and video

• consider the cultural, social and historical context of contemporary artists' film and video production and its audiences

• encourage students to explore key concepts in time based work using a range of digital film and video practices to create work

• assist students in developing communication, project management and video production skills

• enable students to make use of experimental approaches in the construction of moving image work


This module explores a range of cinematic practices which may be described as ‘avant-garde’, underground’ and ‘experimental’, and moving image works which embody aesthetics and/or narrative strategies that are radically distinct from the mainstream, through a series of screenings and lectures and through practical exercises, making links with other cinema histories and with contemporary artists’ film and video work. Through screenings, gallery visits and analyses of key examples, students will consider film and video works in the light of their formal strategies and their relationship to the broader field of visual culture. Students’ theoretical understanding of time-based works made by

artists will be enhanced by undertaking a range of production exercises in workshops, employing experimental and non-narrative practices, using simple direct action on film, and digital video editing in the production of a short piece of experimental video work.

The module will enable students to examine the range of artists’ film and video by studying examples from key moments in the history of artists’ film and video related to contemporary gallery installations and single screen experimental works and will explore key themes such as: the manipulation of time using film technologies; subjectivity and spectatorship; film and video aesthetics; deconstructive and oppositional strategies and identity. The syllabus will include examples from: early cinema; modernism and abstraction; the European modernist avant-garde; US underground cinema; experimental and structural film-making in the UK; expanded cinema; early video art; alternative strategies by women and by queer and black  film-makers; diversity of practice in contemporary video art; contemporary experimentation with new media and new audiences.

Learning and teaching

Students will be introduced to the history of artists’ film and video practices though a series of weekly lectures, initially focusing on key moments from avant-garde and experimental film and moving on to look at contemporary artists' film and video practice. These will be accompanied by the screening of short films and extracts and at least one focused gallery visit. Students will be encouraged to respond
to the material, making connections with key concepts from their study across the Film and Television Studies course, considering avant-garde and experimental works in the light of issues such as historiography, representation, realism, narrative, spectatorship, reception and philosophical approaches. Weekly directed readings will be specified in the module handbook. Additional source material and links to relevant websites, screenings, discussions and events will be made available online and students will be encouraged to engage with the wider artists’ film and video culture.

There will be weekly workshops on most teaching weeks which are designed to equip students with appropriate video and media skills in the use of cameras, projectors, sound equipment, editing and post- production for the project, and to encourage experimental approaches to project planning and production processes. Students will be making use of video material on the shared drives in the University Digilabs in order to complete practice exercises in the use of editing techniques, sound mixing and the construction of post production effects, and students will also have access to facilities during open access sessions. It is expected that students will reflect on practical workshops and exercises in a log, to be submitted with the main practice project, that indicates how they are incorporating relevant working processes and strategies in their own project planning and this log will contribute to their PDP. The log will also reflect on their use of the university’s broad based collection of film and video collections to support their learning. Class time in the final weeks of the module will be devoted to assisting with preparations for assessment and one to one tutorials will be available. The presentations on the projects also provide a key opportunity for reflective learning.

Learning outcomes

On completing this module, students will be able to:

• demonstrate a sound knowledge of the history of artists' film and video practices in relation both to social/cultural/historical contexts and to other areas of art and cinema

• make use of appropriate analytical tools and approaches specific to artists' film and video and from the wider context of Film Studies as a discipline to construct relevant and informed proposals about experimental works and modes of working in their written assignments

• demonstrate competence in project planning, use of camera and sound equipment and use of digital editing and post-production equipment

• follow a creative proposal through all of its development stages from inception to finished work

• critically approach both the histories of film and to techniques and strategies employed by students to construct practical work in film

• produce video work which clearly demonstrates an ability to work with film and related media using experimental and deconstructive approaches in a coherent way.

Assessment strategy

The module is assessed using a practical video project and a theoretical essay, both of which draw on the histories and theories of artists’ film and video work as studied in the module. There will be a set of five essay questions available to students throughout the period of the module, and students will be encouraged to discuss their ideas with the module leader and seek guidance on appropriate search material for the essay. Students are encouraged to make a clear link between the artists, films and ideas which they are researching and writing about in response to their chosen essay question and the moving image work which they produce for the practical project. The essay should be 3000 words.

Students are assessed on the presentation itself and on a log kept during the module up to week 10 which should include notes on reading, viewing, the development of their ideas and feedback. Students are required to submit a statement of intent, of approximately 500 words for their practice project. NB: This material will be handed in with the practical project and should clearly demonstrate a link to the material for the theoretical essay. Students are being assessed on an ability to follow the proposal through from inception to finished project, taking account of relevance of the practical project to the essay and other theoretical material, use of appropriate media and competence in handling media tools such as cameras and editing. The moving image work should be approximately 5 minutes in length. Students undertaking more complex installation works may submit an extract for assessment.


Ian Christie, ‘The Avant-garde and European Cinema Before 1930' in: John Hill, John and Pamela Church Gibson (eds), The Oxford Guide to Film Studies (Milton Keynes: OUP, 1998), pp 449-454.
David Curtis, A.L. Rees, Duncan White (eds), Expanded Cinema (London: Tate Publishing, 2011).
Catherine Elwes, Video Art: A Guided Tour (London: I B Tauris, 2005).
Jackie Hatfield, (ed.), Experimental Film and Video, (London: John Libbey Publishing, 2006).
Nicky Hamlyn, Film Art Phenomenon  (London: BFI,  2003).
John G. Hanhardt, ‘Expanded Forms Notes Towards a History’ in World Wide Video (London: Art and Design, 1993), pp 19-25.
Michael Maziere and Nina Danino (eds.), The Undercut Reader (London: Wallfower, 2003).
Michael O’Pray, Avant-garde Film: Forms, Themes and Passions (London: Wallflower,2003).
Peter Osborne, ‘Distracted Reception’, in Jessica Morgan (ed.), Time Zones, (London: Tate, 2004)
A.L. Rees, A History of Experimental Film and Video (London: BFI, 1999).
P. Adams Sitney, Visionary Film: The American Avant-Garde, 3rd edition (NY: OUP, 2002).
Murray Smith, ‘Modernism and The Avant Gardes’ in Hill, John and Pamela Church Gibson (eds), The Oxford Guide to Film Studies (Milton Keynes: OUP, 1998), pp 395-412.

Online material is also available via Weblearn with links to relevant video clips/study materials at: