Since 1988 High has taught video art and documentary production and theory at institutions and universities including the UCSD, School of Visual Arts, New York University, The School of Art at Cooper Union, Princeton University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). Now High's practice includes classes on art and biology, and working with living systems. The following descriptions are some courses developed at RPI over the last ten years.
2002–12 Rensselaer Polytechnic Arts Department:
Speculative Fictions/Science Fictions
Speculative Fictions/Science Fictions is an advanced narrative video production and theory course that examines the areas of science fiction, the fictions of science, the fictions of utopia and dystopia, paranormal and supernatural fictions, and alternative histories. ‘Speculative fiction’ is a genre that looks at the real world and extends what we know and think about it, building on the ‘real.’ Students will produce videos relating to their own particular area of interest falling under this umbrella of ‘speculative fiction.’
Taking the title from Gene Youngblood’s Expanded Cinema (1970), a book that looked at early video art forms other than television, Expanded Video is an intense video production class that explores the boundaries of the medium. This class will probe video installation, video sculpture, video performance, and public projections as means to ‘get outside the box’. Or as Gene Youngblood put it: “When we say expanded cinema we actually mean expanded consciousness.” This class is about creating new ways of communicating in public spaces. We will look at art works from the 1960s and 70s to inspire new environments using media.
Eco Chic: Living Art
Eco Chic: Living Art is an upper level production and theory class about art, biology and the study of life covering topics such as environmentalism, land art, food art, sustainable practices with art, body art, bio-art. Part lecture, part hands-on workshop, Eco Chic encourages students to redefine and experimentally express their relationships with the varied aspects of everyday living systems and manipulating life. We experiment with edible materials, collaborate and build new interspecies relationships, and conduct lab experiments. There are field trips, guest lectures, and heated debates about the ethical issues surrounding biological art that deals so directly with life and death.
VivoArts: Biology and Art Studio
VivoArts was co-taught withTeaching Assistant Adam Zaretsky, PhD candidate, as a workshop for biological art projects. The study of life will aid and inform our expressive productions. Vivoarts: Biology and Art Studio course utilizes five major avenues of study representative of five ways in which Art and Biology join to segment our cultural interpolation of the life-world. The five major areas of study this class explores include: Gastronomy and Edible Art, Biology and Bio-Art, Ethology and Art for Non-humans, Physiology and Body Art, Ecology and EcoArt. VivoArts encourages students to redefine and experimentally express their relationships with the varied aspects of everyday living systems. Readings and discussions are directed towards cultural issues such as gene patenting, population diversity, new reproductive technologies, nature/culture boundaries.
Tools is an upper level undergraduate video course investigating alternative imaging devices and processing systems. The class will analyze the use and cultural context of alternative modes of video production including but not limited to: software emulation, VJ-ing, hardware hacking and using non-traditional imaging devices. As a class we will look into the history, politics and practice of these modes of media art production will be considered. Students will produce videos using material shot from alternative cameras and process material using non-traditional systems. Presentations will also be expected in an area of research of student’s choosing.
Advanced Post-Production: Speed & Random Access
This course is an advanced video post-production course, studying editing conventions and digital techniques through both theory and practice. Students will explore film structures and various editing approaches to organizing real time materials: continuity, discontinuity; dreaming and real life; and the criteria of a good cut. Traditional and experimental editing styles, audio sweetening, and DVD production will make up the bulk of the class work. There will be in-class screenings of films/videos to explore editing samples and readings about the craft of editing.
Strategic Manifesto: Curatorial Practices
Strategic Manifesto: Curatorial Practices is a graduate level course to further the development of curatorial skills that will emphasize research, writing and presentation. Students choose a theme for a show and produce a lecture/presentation on that topic, along with a curatorial plan for the exhibition including programming decisions, schedule and budget planning. Each student’s plan for an exhibition will be reviewed by the iEAR Presents! Committee. The class will make field trips to NYC, Albany, Saratoga Springs and other places to visit various art galleries, museums and arts venues and to meet with curators and discuss methodology for choosing and organizing shows.
Strategic Manifesto: Design
Strategic Manifesto Design is a graduate level course focusing on the development of essay writing skills, creative use of graphic design and the production of print publications. The goal of the semester's course work is the limited edition publication of a zine for release and distribution. Students will develop the concept of a publication by reviewing the historic use of photomontage, creative design and ingenious distribution of printed materials throughout history. They will collectively choose a theme by which to fuse the publication. Each student will write a contributing article and assist in designing the overall articulation of the publication. Grad Graphic Facilities will be used for all image/text production.
“Disease” is an upper level video production/topics course looking at the notion of “dis/ease” and how issues of the body have been dealt with in contemporary video art (single channel and video installation). The various permutations of “disease” - used as a metaphor – will navigate controversial areas such as: epidemic; cyborgs and body modification; gender/transgender and its relation to “care”; hysteria and madness; and transgressions of the spirit.
A production course investigating documentary or non-fiction film/video. Along side this production, students view and theorize about traditional documentary works and other less standard docs such as home movies, reality TV, tabloid news, autobiographical, art and activist videos.
Video: Big Tools/Small Tools: Alternative Imaging
An upper level video course investigating alternative imaging recording devices. Tracking the use of cameras in public and personal spaces (such as surveillance cameras, spy equipment, medical imaging techniques, etc.) as a class we will look into the history, politics and practice of bugging, profiling, and watching. Students will produce videos using material shot from alternative cameras (big and small) as well as present an area of research of their choosing.