Binghamton University - Cinema Department & Artists Lab at School for Advanced Technology, (1977, 1980, 1983, 1998)

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Cinema Department
"The first traces of a Cinema Department appeared at S.U.N.Y. Binghamton in the Spring of 1969, when Larry Gottheim taught a film course in the English Department. At that time, Ken Jacobs, an underground filmmaker was invited to give a seminar. A program in Cinema was instituted during the 1969-70 academic year, and Jacobs was hired. Gottheim had received a National Endowment for the Humanities Grant that year, so Jacobs taught the entire program. In 1970-71, Gottheim returned, and the two developed the (1972) scheme of courses. Ralph Hocking, Lecturer in Photography and Television, was added as an 'irregular' member of the department," (1) teaching the first video making course in 1973, along with courses in photography. (2)

Hocking had begun the Student Experiments in Television in 1969, a program which provided access to new video technology to students and other members of the academic community, as well as the general public. In 1970 Hocking formed and incorporated the Community Center for Television Production, a precursor of the Experimental Television Center, and with assistance from the New York State Council on the Arts moved to a loft space in downtown Binghamton. Along with extensive programs for artists and the community, Hocking also involved students from the Cinema Department, teaching some courses in the downtown space.

The goal of the Department according to Gottheim is to "teach students to comprehend cinema as an art... To accomplish this purpose, students are shown films which do not always fall into the traditional categories of those made in Hollywood and in foreign countries." Gottheim stated that "Here you can develop yourself as a serious film artist or an artistic thinker about films. So-called 'difficult' works can be shown, and people can appreciate them." At this time the University produced the Film Symposium, showing the works of a number of independent filmmakers screening and discussing their work along with the premiere of a finished portions of Nicholas Ray's 1972 film "Don't Expect Too Much." (1)

Nicholas Ray was director of films such as, "In a Lovely Place," "Johny Guitar," and "Rebel Without a Cause." In 1972, as Visiting Professor of Cinema at S.U.N.Y. at Binghamton worked with a student based film crew to produce the tentatively titled "Don't Expect Too Much." (1)

"Nicholas Ray was added to the Cinema Department" in 1972, making it largely based on the teaching of independent underground filmmakers. Budget cuts forced the Department to establish a "very strict system of pre-requisites for higher level courses." Like contemporary abuses of faculty teaching time-base media "the three members of the Department teach much more than the usual professional course load."

The curriculum eventually included videomaking as well as filmmaking, and cinema analysis. Other visiting filmmakers and videomakers throughout the years included Peter Kubelka, Vincent Grenier, Barbara Buckner, Saul Levene, Dan Barnett, Graduates of the Department include Alan Berliner, Peer Bode, Neil Zusman, Ariana ....., There was an extensive exhibition program, and a rigorous senior thesis requirement.

1. Robert Lowe, "departmental survey cinema department-- rebels with a cause," Pipe Dream, State University of New York at Binghamton, Vol. 4, No. 19., April 25, 1972, pg. 11.
2. Maureen Turim, "Introduction," The Electronic Gallery, S.U.N.Y. Binghamton and The Experimental Television Center, Owego, New York, page 1.

The Electronic Gallery Exhibitions

The Electronic Gallery, 1980
The Electronic Gallery "exhibit marks the first time that the Experimental Television Center and the Department of Cinema ... coordinate[d] a full scale exhibition of process video as an ongoing installation. The initial planning of the exhibit took place in 1980, Sherry Miller, assistant director of the Experimental Television Center and [Maureen Turim] met to consider the possibility of... such a project."

"'The Electronic Gallery,' a course [Maureen Turim] taught in the fall of 1980 through the cinema department continued the work on this project by involving students in the planning of the exhibit. Video artists Ralph Hocking, Sherry Miller, Henry Linhart, Peer Bode and Harry [Hank] Rudolph visited the class, while the others who later were asked to show tapes in the exhibit were represented among the works screened and discussed."

The "catalog [was] a result of [a] semester's work [by Turim's students.] The essays were written by graduate students who participated in the course, while the design and layout was the responsibility of Kathy Zunic, Roy Harrison and Stan Kauffman. Since several artists [were] premiering tapes that were not available for analysis prior to the writing of [the] essays, some of the discussion refers to earlier works by the artists." The following essays were part of the catalog: "Art, Ideas and Video" by Donna Cesan; "Perceptual Process and Processed Video Art" by Lynne Kirby; and "Television Culture and Video Art" by Patricia Shores. Artists included in the exhibition were Ralph Hocking and Sherry Miller, Hank Rudolph, Henry Linhart, Shalom Gorewitz, Peer Bode, Meryl Blackman, Reynold Weidenaar, Barbara Buckner, and Gary Hill.

"The Electronic Gallery" was "sponsored by the Cinema Department of S.U.N.Y. Binghamton and Experimental Television Center, Owego, New York with support from The Media Bureau" of the New York State Council on the Arts. (1)

1. Maureen Turim, "Introduction," The Electronic Gallery, S.U.N.Y. Binghamton and Experimental Television Center, Owego, New York, page 1.

The Electronic Gallery 1983
University Art Gallery, Binghamton University
The Electronic Gallery 1983 catalog was "published in conjunction with an exhibition at the University Art Gallery, Sate University of New York at Binghamton, March 2-March 25, 1983. The exhibition" was "made possible through a grant from the Media Bureau of the New York Sate Council on the Arts." A panel discussion with the video artists was held March 25, 1983.

Josephine Gear, Director of the University Art Gallery wrote the introduction. Curator and catalog essayist was Maureen Turim. Contributing curators were Ralph Hocking and Sherry Miller of the Experimental Television Center, Owego, New York. Peer Bode of the Experimental Television Center did the photography for the catalog. Chris Focht of S.U.N.Y. Binghamton did the catalog printing.

"The seven artists represented in [the] exhibit [were] investigating various aspects of ...formal and implicitly theoretical issues of video art. Each of them has invested a shared technological apparatus with his or her own search for visual and aural expression of philosophical queries and statements. Each produces and investigates his or her own personal obsessions and desires... They have chosen as their common appellation the term 'process video.' This refers to the manipulation of the graphic and temporal structure of the video image, and often the simultaneous generation of the soundtrack, through a combination of various electronic and computer devices."

Video works by Ralph Hocking and Sherleen Miller, Peer Bode, Barbara Buckner, Shalom Gorewitz, Gary Hill and Henry Coshery Linhart were presented. Still Images exhibited were by Mary Ross, Peer Bode and Ralph Hocking. (1)

1. Maureen Turim, The Electronic Gallery, University Art Gallery, S.U.N.Y. Binghamton, 1983

Cinema Department, University at Binghamton and Relationship with the Experimental Television Center
          -Survey of Film/Television/Video/Still Photography/Electronic Music Activity at State University of New York Campuses. John Minkowsky. 1977

Programs of the Cinema Department
          The philosophy of the Cinema Department is described in the following way:
          The Department of Cinema is devoted to the development of artists and creative thinkers in cinema. It aims at a unified sense of cinema, providing a basis for new insights and works. Specific skills of analysis and production, including those of video, are taught, but not as ends in themselves. The major program aims to produce not narrow specialists in lighting, cinematography, or film editing, but rather broadly trained artists and thinkers sensitive to a whole range of cinematic values.
          Students who major in cinema bring together the techniques they have learned and the values to which they have been made sensitive, in a senior thesis which consists of an independent film work or a writing about film, demonstrating creative insight and ability.
          The Department encourages studies in the theories and techniques of other art disciplines such as music, painting, theater, and literature.
          Now in its sixth year, the Department began as a cinema course taught by Professor Larry Gottheim, now Chairman, through the English Department in 1968. The film curriculum expanded to a "program" of two faculty in 1969 and gained full status of an undergraduate Department offering a B.A. degree in 1970. It has since grown to the extent of having six full-time faculty and one visiting professor offering sixteen courses each year in film production, film analysis and paracinema to more than thirty majors and about six hundred total students.
          The most important recent developments in the Cinema Department are plans for an M.A. degree and the expansion of activities to include video. Ralph Hocking, a faculty member, offers two courses each year in video as an art, utilizing the extensive facilities of the Experimental Television Center, where he is Director. (Further information about the Experimental Television Center, a not-for-profit educational corporation separate and distinct from the State University of New York system, accompanies the Academic Courses in Video chart.) Students have constructed majors in video art through the Innovational Projects Board; they may also receive credit for independent work in still photography.
          Other faculty are Ken Jacobs, Daniel Barnett and Saul Levine.
                    Facilities in film include 8 and 16mm production and projection equipment with synchronizers, horizontal and vertical editing machines, magnasync and interlock projectors and processing equipment for black-and-white film. There is also limited 35mm production equipment. Video facilities at the Experimental Television Center include black-and-white and color cameras, 1/2-inch and 1-inch decks, video projection, keyers, special effects generators, a colorizer, a synthesizer and a spatial and intensity digitizer much of this equipment is owned by the Center, some is on loan from the University.
                    The Department screens hundreds of primarily art and feature-length narrative films each year, the Department's $2000 rental budget supplemented by the more than seventy-five films in the SUNY/Binghamton Film Archives and the screenings of the Harpur Film Society, an extraacademic organization.
                    Along with arrangements for regular visiting professors, the Cinema Department also sponsors one-day to one month programs with several dozen visiting film and video artists each year. The Department hosted the first University-wide conference on Cinema in 1972. Professor Gottheim reports that most of the interaction of the Cinema Department with other departments in the University occurs at an informal level, with students taking a variety of other courses and faculty giving lectures in other departments. The planned M.A. Program calls for greater interrelationships of this type. The Cinema Department lists an increase in faculty/personnel as its most basic need at present.

Relationship between Experimental Television Center and Cinema Department
          Ralph Hocking, lecturer in the Cinema Department and Director of the Experimental Television Center, "a not-for-profit educational corporation chartered by the Regents of the State of New York, legally separate from SUNY-Binghamton" indicates that the Center is an Extra-Academic Television/Video Organization. Whereas the Experimental Television Center differs greatly from our more common definitions of such extra-academic organizations as "clubs" or student-operated television stations directly affiliated to State University of New York campuses, the Center is nonetheless a facility utilized by a fluctuating number of students, who may also participate in workshops on an extra-academic basis, along with all video makers from the local area and around the state. The Center's facilities are also utilized in the instruction of video courses through the Cinema Department at the University Center at Binghamton.

Artist's TV Lab S.A.T. Plan School for Advanced Technology
Artist's TV Lab, a laboratory design with the goal to provide comprehensive exposure to all levels of understanding relative to computers and their use; a flexible equipment base to support instruction and research; an environment where experience oriented experimentation would be encouraged; and to provide experiences with equipment and software representing the state of the art. Digital electronic equipment was requested for small and medium stand-alone computer systems to expose students to development, data acquisition, and control, simple and multi-task operating, as well as system level software. The plan included course titles and content, equipment needs per student and security issues. Courses developed were to give students a concrete understanding of basic electronics, digital logic, microcomputers; applications development and real-time control; operating and translator system design. The equipment list proposed components to build their own digital computers coupled with computer friendly analog systems. Paul Davis was instrumental in the design and running of the Lab; Davis was also very active as consultant and engineer at the Experimental Television Center, working on the interface of computers to analog video instruments. (1)

1. "Once upon a time in a place called S.A.T...." photocopy.

Group Name: 
Binghamton University - Cinema Department & Artists Lab at School for Advanced Technology
Group Dates: 
1969 - present
Group Location: 
Binghamton, New York