Theory & Practice:
Intermedia Performance
DMS 416/516

Profs. J. Anstey & S. Bay-Cheng                                           Office Hours:  T 10-11,
Spring 2007                                                                                        and by appointment
TR 11-12:50                                                                            Offices: 248a & 276 CFA

286 CFA                                                                                 e-mail:;


Required Texts:

Gabriella Giannachi, Virtual Theatres (Routledge, 2004)

All other readings will be determined individually, and must either be a source in either Auslander's or Giannachi's bibliography, or a source that cites either text. Part of your course assessment will be to construct a bibliography useful to your own work. (See course evaluation.) The process and timeline for these readings will be announced in class.

Recommended Text:

Philip Auslander, Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture (Routledge, 1999)

Freda Chapple and Chiel Kattenbelt, eds. Intermediality in Theatre and Performance (Rodopi, 2006)

*note on reading:  As of 1/13, neither Auslander nor Chapple/Kattenbelt are available for purchase in the bookstore. Copies of essential readings will be provided in the first weeks of the semester.

Course Description:

 Performance, whether traditional or experimental, is increasingly impacted by media, and Intermedia Performance embraces and explores this union. This course combines the study of recent debates in performance theory and the creation of Intermedia performance projects based on individual students interests and skills. We will consider topics such as the performing body across media; what performance means to current media practice; new theories of media as performance. We will analyze intermedia performers and performances in theatre, performance art, interactive arts (games, VR, locative and installation practice), networked art, time-based arts (film, video, TV).

The course is divided into two sections:

Tuesdays will be devoted largely to developing both a general theory of intermedia performance and a specific theory of intermediality specifically tailored to the individual art practice of each student. Thursdays will cover developments in media and performance in installation, gallery, and game contexts, and related exercises and projects. This production segment of the course will consist of in-class experiments and a longer term project integrating live and virtual performance with video/film, computer graphics, virtual reality, motion capture.

 Course Evaluation:

 Reading, Preparation & Participation: 15 points

You are expected to come to class thoroughly read on the material (not simply skimmed) and prepared for engaged discussion. 

"network texts"

As noted in the course outline, students are required to provide so-called network texts in lieu of assigned reading. Each week, students will bring additional documents to class, the salient points of which will be shared with the class. Two additional copies of the text should be provided for the instructors *before* class, in either hard or electronic copy. The ability to find good texts, discuss them clearly in class, and connect individual reading with the course's larger topics will weigh heavily in the participation evaluation.

Writing: 40 points

This paper should outline your fundamental understanding of intermedia performance and how it relates to your specific area of creative and/or theoretical interest.  Coming relatively early in the semester, it need not be a fully developed idea, but rather the beginning of your own exploration. As such, you may choose to present questions and hypotheses to be addressed both in your creative and theoretical work.

This should carefully detail everything you've read this semester, and other texts potentially useful to you own developing art practice and theory. Throughout the semester, you will construct a network of reading based first on Auslander's book and its citations, and then on books, articles, etc. that cite Auslander. Finally, you can use this foundation to construct a broader list of cites using the bibliographies in the books and articles you've read. For each entry, you will write 1-2 sentences outlining the argument and its relevance to your own project.

Written Requirements:

All writing should be typed in 12 pt. font Times or Times New Roman with 1" margins, and stapled before you come to class.  Please use a running header for each page after the first with your name and page number and staple one blank page at the end for comments. You may use whatever citation style you prefer (Chicago Manual of Style, MLA, APA, etc.), but please be consistent. If you have questions about citation styles, please see the instructors immediately. Carefully proofread all work yourself; do not simply rely on your computer.

Final Project: : 45 points

The final project will be an intermedia performance that will be exhibited at a final show (date TBA). The project should be substantive, illustrate the studentÕs engagement with the topics introduced in this class, and demonstrate the studentÕs creative, conceptual and aesthetic concerns. Group projects will be accepted. The performance should stand-alone but could be part of a larger project. Students should start conceiving the final project from the beginning of the semester, be ready with a detailed plan after Spring break, and use the in-class production experiments to work out their concepts and concerns.


Attendance for every class is mandatory barring serious emergency.  Each student is allowed two unexcused absences for whatever reason (e.g., illness, weather). If extenuating circumstances arise (e.g., serious medical problems, child care), please contact the instructors as soon as possible to address the situation. Barring emergency circumstances, each absence after two will drop lower the final grade by a full grade for each additional absence (i.e.,3 absences =  B→C).  Punctuality is also expected.  For the purposes of grading, three tardies will equal one unexcused absence. 

Criteria for Incomplete Grade:

It is the policy of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Media Study to grant incompletes for a semester only under extraordinary circumstances. Under any circumstances, incompletes will be granted only to students currently in good standing (i.e., regular attendance and passing completion of assignments).  Requests for a grade of incomplete need to be submitted in writing, and should include a rationale, documentation for the reason, and a proposed schedule for completion. 


Plagiarism is literary theft and a betrayal of trust. The term is derived from the Latin word for kidnapper and refers to the act of signing one's own name to words, phrases, or ideas, which are the literary property of another. Plagiarism comes in many forms, all to be avoided: outright copying or disguised use of words and phrases from an unacknowledged source. This includes copying and pasting from any online source. To avoid Plagiarism, students are encouraged to make it their habit to put quotation marks around words and phrases, or to isolate and indent longer passages that you are using from someone else's writing. Students can cite the source in a footnote/endnote, or within parentheses in your text. The penalties for Plagiarism can be severe: from an F for the particular assignment, to an F for the course, and to referral of the case to the Dean of Undergraduate Education for administrative judgment.

WEAPONS AS PROPS: If you are planning a student production which involves using any prop which could be interpreted to be a weapon [toy gun, BB gun, knife, etc.] And you are planning to shoot on the UB campus or any other public place, you must obtain written permission from Campus Security or the equivalent authority before you shoot. If you do not you will face serious problems including possible expulsion from the university.

Course Outline:

Tuesdays will (mostly) be devoted to discussion on the critical issues central to developing a theory of intermedia performance, i.e., what is intermedia performance? what is the intersection of performance and technology? where do notions of performance and theatricality fit into the evolving domain of media study and art?

Readings are to be completed by the Tuesday class in which they are listed. For additional readings, please bring one clean photocopy, so that we can scan and distribute.  Each Tuesday be prepared to discuss the texts in light of a general theory of ImP and your own response to the work. Be sure that you can clearly articulate the argument in the text before your response. After completion of the assigned texts, students are required to provide a "network text." These networked texts may include any source either cited in the bibliography of a text already read, or that cites texts already read. These sources can be many times removed from the so-called original text, but the links should be traceable.

On Thursdays, at the beginning of the semester, we will view documentation of  a wide range of performances. We will look at performances that pre-date the coining of the term intermedia performance, and contemporary performers that may not consider themselves intermedia performers. We will discover whether the lens of  intermedia performance theory lends useful insights to our analysis of performance practice. Both the theory and the practice will inform the rest of the semester, which will consist of  creating experimental intermedia performances both inside and outside the class.

Fundamental issues for the production experiments will be the relationship of text/spoken word to image, the relationship of live bodies to media, the problems of  confronting audiences with multiple information channels, and the difficulties of producing interactive work. How can gesture and facial expression enrich and enhance the spoken word, garble and undermine its meaning, or create a  subtext at variance with the overt speech?  How can the interplay of live bodies and media do the same work?  How do we balance live bodies and projected images aesthetically and conceptually? What changes when we introduce computer generated worlds, avatars and artificial characters into the mix? What are the pre-conditions for successful interactive experiments?

The production experiments will include work with the DMS's virtual reality equipment, and experiments with video or CG projections on scrims, transparent screens, green screens, or other materials. However, we are open to suggestions and to the use of any other media. We expect students to bring their own knowledge, expertise, and creative issues to the production experiments, and encourage them to use the in-class experiments as sketches or stages in the production of their end of semester project.

Jan. 16-18:  Introduction to Inter/Media/Performance

Jan. 23-25: Liveness

Jan. 30-Feb. 1: Real/Realness/Reality

Feb. 6-8: Text & Hypertext

Feb. 13-14: Body

Feb. 20-22: Praxis

Feb. 27-Mar. 1: Environment

Mar. 6-8: Interactivity

Mar. 13-15: Spring Break

Mar. 20-22: Reception

Mar. 27-29: Material

 Apr. 3-5: Synthesis

 Apr. 10-12: Work on Final Projects

Apr. 17-19: Work on Final Projects

 Apr. 24-26: Presentation of Final Projects