Document Type


Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

Digital Media and Learning 2017

Conference Location

Irvine, CA

Total Pages

12 slides


With the support of the Mellon-funded Digital Bridges Initiative, the semester-long course, "Museum without Walls," invites students to conduct new research and engage digital interface development related to the history of the Intermedia program at the University of Iowa. Renowned as one of the first MFA programs that encouraged art students to work across disciplines in their research and practice, Intermedia produced work that often integrated new technologies and media.

Focused on the study of a partially digitized corpus of videos made by students, faculty, and visiting artists between 1969-2003 in the program, the course pursues art historical lines of inquiry that also raise fundamental questions about how we catalog and categorize each artifact. Videos, especially those produced in the context of performance, are often the product of collaborative effort and the result can be seen as documentation and/or artwork. Because videos, even when digitized, are not machine readable, appropriate metadata is one of the few ways this material can become robustly accessible. Students generate metadata descriptions that enable the development of a research portal to this corpus of video artifacts. To be offered every year, this course is fundamentally iterative: each semester, we build upon the work previous students have completed as researchers, designers, and contributors to a growing database of videos.

Given the technical, theoretical, and historical parameters of the course, its resources, organization, and design has also drawn upon the expertise of library specialists, digital humanities researchers, art historians, and museum professional. Graduate and undergraduate assistants conduct preliminary research and students in the course deepen the content and work collaboratively on interface design and development. What emerges is a model of participatory design, which, Bratteteig and Gregory have argued, fundamentally understands "design as change" and seeks "to include future users in most parts of the design process, even as co-designers." By engaging multiple constituents in the process of research, interface design, and metadata determination, the course models participatory design in digital humanities pedagogy and resource development.


digital, pedogogy, participatory design, GUI, intermedia, avant garde, art, Iowa


Copyright © 2017 Hannah Scates Kettler, Joyce Tsai, Matthew T. Butler, Theresa Hercher, Paul Schmitt, and Lindley Warren

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