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Gloria Sutton: The Experience Machine, Stan VanDerBeek’s Movie-Drome and Expanded Cinema

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Apr 08, 2015
1:30 pm
Alumni Center

Join us to celebrate the publication of The Experience Machine, Stan VanDerBeek’s Movie-Drome and Expanded Cinema from MIT Press, written by Dr. Gloria Sutton, Assistant Professor of Art History and New Media in the Department of Art + Design at Northeastern University.

In 1965, the experimental filmmaker Stan VanDerBeek (1927–1984) unveiled his Movie-Drome, made from the repurposed top of a grain silo. VanDerBeek envisioned Movie-Drome as the prototype for a communications system—a global network of Movie-Dromes linked to orbiting satellites that would store and transmit images. With networked two-way communication, Movie-Dromes were meant to ameliorate technology’s alienating impulse. In The Experience Machine, Gloria Sutton views VanDerBeek—known mostly for his experimental animated films—as a visual artist committed to the radical aesthetic sensibilities he developed during his studies at Black Mountain College. She argues that VanDerBeek’s collaborative multimedia projects of the 1960s and 1970s (sometimes characterized as “Expanded Cinema”), with their emphases on transparency of process and audience engagement, anticipate contemporary art’s new media, installation, and participatory practices.

“Stan VanDerBeek’s Movie-Drome (1965) is one of the most important projects created at the intersection of art, video, and digital technology. This book is the first in-depth study of Stan VanDerBeek’s works and ideas on the larger practice of 1960s avant-garde, and subsequent emergence of new media art and digital culture. It’s a must-read for anybody who wants to understand the conceptual roots of social media networks, creative coding, and our present cultural situation.”

Lev Manovich, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, author of The Language of New Media

The Experience Machine is an illuminating and authoritative study of Expanded Cinema and one of its key artists. Combining a close analysis of VanDerBeek’s films, drawings, collages, photographs, and writings with a lucid assessment of the historical debates and practices of 1960s multimedia art, the book’s originality lies not only in the sheer information it yields, but also in the questions it asks and the very concepts it proposes.”

Roy Grundmann, Boston University

About Dr. Gloria Sutton

Gloria Sutton

Gloria Sutton is Assistant Professor of Contemporary Art History and New Media at Northeastern University in Boston. She received her PhD from the University of California Los Angeles and was a fellow at the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program and the Getty Research Institute. Gloria’s teaching and research focus on time-based media practices and a critical history of technological experiments within visual art. 

Dr. Sutton has contributed to Afterimage, Art Bulletin, Art in America, and Rhizome.org, and has published numerous exhibition catalogue essays on artists including Kirsten Everberg (Pomona College Museum of Art, 2013), Renée Green (Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne, 2009), Karl Haendel (Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, 2006), Carsten Höller (New Museum, 2011), Laura Owens (Kunsthalle Zurich, 2006), Kerry Tribe (American Academy Berlin, 2006), as well as Ice Cream: Contemporary Art in Culture (Phaidon, 2007) and Vitamin Ph, New Perspectives in Photography (Phaidon, 2006).

She has also curated exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art and the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in Los Angeles and Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria and has been invited to lecture at the New Museum in New York, MIT’s Program in Art Culture and Technology, Carleton College in Minnesota, San Francisco Art Institute, Contemporary Art Museum Houston, and Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art (INHA) in Paris.