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DXARTS 450: A Taste Of Experimental Video

December 10, 2013

[Photo courtesy of the UW Center for Digital Art and Experimental Media]

[Photo courtesy of the UW Center for Digital Art and Experimental Media]

Thai, Astronomy, Asian American Studies, Communication, Comparative Literature. Those are just a handful of the courses I have taken at UW thus far. These classes involved the standard lectures, written tests and papers. This quarter I decided to leave that behind and venture out into unfamiliar territory by enrolling in DXARTS 450.

First, what is DXARTS? DXARTS, or the Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media, is a department dedicated to exploring the growing media arts field. DXARTS encourages artists and students to explore, develop and discover new perspectives and ideas through video, sound, and other technologies.

I enrolled in DXARTS 450 (Digital Video Foundations) because I’ve always wanted to get involved in film and video, and taking a beginning experimental film course seemed like a good step forward.  The class has about twenty students and covers digital video basics, historical and contemporary experimental films, and encourages students to explore and express their own interpretations of what experimental art is. In short, it’s a mix of lectures, hands-on workshops, and students creating and showcasing their own videos.

Instead of handing in papers, I submitted short videos. (Capturing and editing video was the equivalent to writing and revising a paper.) DXARTS 450, the first in a series of three courses (with 451 and 452 following), introduces students to Adobe Premiere, sound, lighting techniques, and different camera motions. I learned how to play with sound, work with green screens, and create impromptu DIY set-ups. The class was also took a mini, on-campus field trip to Robert Twomey’s “Face Swap” exhibit . (Click here for more information on the exhibition, or here for more information on Robert Twomey’s work.)

A still image from Robert Twomey's Face Swap exhibit. [Photo courtesy of]

A still image from Robert Twomey’s Face Swap exhibit. [Photo courtesy of]

Assignments included combining still photos and full-motion video to create a short black and white film, and splicing together shots from different sources to create an appropriated piece. The final project asked students to create their own independent work with no set theme. Each assignment challenged me to think outside my creative box, from viewing the world through an upside down camera lens to using a tripod in nontraditional ways I would have never imagined.

The best part of this course was watching and critiquing the creations of other students in class, which inspired me to think about experimental art and expression from very different perspectives. The course was an overall great introduction to video basics and the modern realm of creativity.

While the requirements for my Communication and American Ethnic Studies majors prevent me from enrolling in another DXARTS course in the near future, I do hope those who have the time will take advantage of these awesome classes! After taking this course, I have new tangible skills that I can apply to future endeavors in video, as well as a short resume of my own works of art. If there’s one course that has shaped and enriched my experience at UW the most within just ten weeks, it would hands down be this class!

For a sampling of DXARTS 450 classwork, check out my first video project below:

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