I recently gave a keynote talk on live cinema for MediaLive: Exploring Live Audiovisual Arts in Boulder, Colorado. The event was wonderful, featuring performances by artists as varied as Miwa Matreyek, Jon Satrom, Brian Kane and Tiffany Trenda.

Recent past events include participation in the Best Minds Conference hosted by Queens College of Charlotte in North Carolina; a presentation on the potential of using the concept of world building to imagine a curriculum for the future at the Aspen Forum for the Future of Higher Education, June; and some ideas on the radical disruptions of space in the 3D worlds of Marco Brambilla, and co-curated a program of innovative digital animation works from the last few years for the Society for Animation Studies conference.


Thanks for visiting – this website houses descriptions of my recent work at the intersection of experimental film, video, new media art and emerging forms of teaching, learning, and research practices. I’ve also posted several recent essays and descriptions of projects, some real and some speculative. Please get in touch if you have questions! – Holly

Recent Writing

Here are recent profiles of media artists: Janie Geiser and her amazing puppet media performances; animator David O’Reilly; Stas Orlovsky and his moving paintings; and John Carpenter, known for his lovely interactive media installations.

Film Comment published an essay that I wrote on the work of Rick Linklater and his obsession with time, especially in his new film, Boyhood.

For my presentation at MediaLive 2013, I was invited to create a PDF combining the images and text. Here’s that presentation, with gratitude to all the artists and scholars represented in the talk.

“The Paradise Trilogy” considers three recent films by Ulrich Seidl, for Film Comment, September/October 2013.

“Extra Curricular: Lessons Learned,” a collection of filmmaking assignments by instructors in diverse film schools, was published in Filmmaker, June 2013. Unfortunately, access requires a subscription.

In May, I was invited to contribute to a conversation about the future of film for Frieze. Titled Future Fictions, the prompt asked us to imagine how stories would be told in the future. I got caught up in how the “future” can be viewed by looking at the past.

The Pleasure of the Text: David Gatten is a profile of the wonderful filmmaker in the March/April 2013 issue of Film Comment.

Terror and the Cinematic Sublime: Essays on Violence and the Unpresentable in Post-9/11 Filmspublished in January 2013, includes an essay I wrote titled “Pleasure and Pain: Cinematic Remakes,” on avant-garde artworks such as Douglas Gordon’s  24-Hour Psycho and Jim Campbell’s  Illuminated Average #1, Hitchcock’s Psycho, that query the very boundaries of the cinematic object through repetition and a kind of dismantling.

Digital Learning, Digital Scholarship and Design Thinking | Co-written with Anne Burdick, Design Thinking Research Symposium conference proceedings, “Interpreting Design Thinking,” January 2011.

Voice, Performance and Transience: Learning Through Seesmic | Book chapter, Learning Through Digital Media, Trebor Scholz, editor, February 2011.

Marco Brambilla and 3D in the Museum | LA Weekly | May 2011

Reboot: What Film Schools Need to Explore to Stay Relevant in the Future | Filmmaker Magazine, fall 2011.

Review: The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation Is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue and the Way We Tell Stories

Sundance Docs Explore the Demise of the American Dream

Women Who Roar: Sundance 2012

Sundance Portrait: Terence Nance

Sundance Portrait: Sally El Hosaini

Sundance Opinion: Miguel Arteta

Sundance Portrait: Shirin Neshat

I was invited to give the keynote presentation at this year’s University Film and Video Association Conference, and promised to share it. Here is the PDF file, with just the slides. Here is the PowerPoint; view “Notes Page” to see the image and lecture text.


New Digital Cinema: Reinventing the Moving Image, published by Wallflower Press in 2005, tracks the evolution of contemporary cinema as it intersects with the formerly separate realms of filmmaking, video art, music video, animation, print design and live club events to create an avant-garde for the new millennium. Beginning with the premise that we are witnessing the most extensive reworking of the role of images since the inauguration of cinema, thanks in no small part to the advent of desktop filmmaking tools, the book opens with an investigation of digital cinema and its contribution to innovations in the feature film format, examining animation/live action hybrids, the gritty aesthetic of the Dogme 95 filmmakers, the explosions of frames within frames, and the evolution of the “ambient narrative” film. The book then moves on to examine the creation of new genres and moving image experiences as what we know as cinema expands beyond the confines of the movie theater and television screen into new venues and formats.

The New Ecology of Things project, an experiment in transmedia publishing, was created in collaboration with faculty from Art Center College of Design. I worked primarily on editing the text, and helped brainstorm ideas for the project’s manifestation across other media platforms. The project in its current form unites four media components – book, dust jacket / poster, Web site, and wap – each of which relates to the others: place the book on the poster to see additional imagery; point your mobile phone camera at barcodes on the poster and watch videos; browse URLs in the book and move to a dialogue online… The NET publication includes several essays, a glossary, forums, interactive works and videos, with writing by Bruce Sterling, Brenda Laurel, Phil van Allen, Anne Burdick and Nik Hafermaas.

Design Research Report

This report was drafted in response to calls among AIGA members for the organization to create a publication devoted to design research.

Review: Art of Immersion

Review of Frank Rose’s book, The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories.

Shifting Paradigms: Tools and Systems

This report follows from the New Contexts/New Practices conference hosted by North Carolina State University, October 8 – 10, 2010, and was printed in Design Observer in conjunction with five other reports.

A vital next step in design education centers on taking seriously the notion of systems and systems thinking, which are inherently transdisciplinary, holistic and focused on the interrelationships and patterns of things, not on fixed and isolated parts of a larger process. This means embracing dynamism and emergent possibility as core to design methodologies as well as to design education. What does this mean with respect to curricula, pedagogy, assessment and teaching spaces? And how does this shift affect the designer’s identity? Continue Reading →


Graduate Education + the Future of Scholarship

Reports show that graduate students are among those least interested in exploring new tools for research and scholarly communication. This essay explores this conundrum and its implications, especially in the digital humanities.


Literacies for the Near Future

Many recent calls to expand literacy for the 21st century center on visual literacy, and to some extent, networked literacies. However, we should also be thinking about literacies that acknowledge pervasive computing and urban informatics…


Mobile Voices

Mobile Voices, funded through the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Initiative, is a mobile phone storytelling platform that gives voice to the stories told by immigrant workers in Los Angeles.


Critical Commons

Critical Commons, funded through the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning initiative, is a non-profit advocacy coalition that advocates for the fair use of media in educational contexts, providing resources, information and tools for scholars, students and educators.


Blur + Sharpen

Blur + Sharpen began as screening series devoted to innovations in moving image artwork; it is now a blog hosted by KCET Local, and chronicles new media art and artists in Los Angeles.



Traveling festival of digital media projects, co-curated with Jonathan Wells and Sandy Hunter.

Video: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

“Video is everywhere,” the 2008 edition of The Horizon Report boldly announced, noting that the lower costs associated with video production mean that “faculty have more options than ever before to incorporate video into their curricula.”1 The sentence might also have read: “Bad video is everywhere!” Indeed, as Flip video camcorders and YouTube clips grow increasingly prevalent on campuses and in classrooms, and as citizen journalism vies with professional media production as a primary source of information, it is time to examine how those of us in higher education use — and how we ought to use — video, both in teaching and within emerging modes of scholarly production. It is also time to debunk some of the entrenched assumptions regarding the supposed divide between the word and the image, as well as the harsh distinction between amateur and professional production. Continue Reading →

City as Screen / Body as Movie

Let’s start with a photograph: taken by Hiroko Masuke, it is of a billboard that features an ad for the TV miniseries The Andromeda Strain printed in The New York Times a year ago.1 The billboard includes a large, horizontal poster for the film, along with a video display showing clips embedded within the poster. What’s not visible, however, is a small video camera made by the company Quividi that documents passersby as they look at the billboard; the company has developed what it calls the “automated audience measurement solution,” which documents visitors who look at the billboard, channeling the information into a database, from which it then decodes the data, examining factors such as the overall height of viewers, as well as facial features, including cheekbone height and the measurement of space between the nose and chin. The goal is to determine gender and age, and although the company says it does not yet factor for race, it plans to soon. Continue Reading →

Real Time Live

In March 2009, DreamWorks Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg announced that in conjunction with the release of the animated feature film Monsters Vs. Aliens, all of his company’s subsequent film projects would be produced and exhibited in 3-D. The gambit allows the studio to delineate clearly between the cinematic experience as it is enjoyed in the theater versus the DVD screening situated in the home – or airplane, desktop, mobile device and so on. The immersive film event could in addition prompt higher ticket prices and hinder piracy. Despite the wonders of 3-D, this attempt to revitalize Hollywood’s increasingly marginal role in moving-image entertainment remains merely one of many examples of a broad-based dismantling and reconfiguration of cinema at the turn of the century as a once relatively stable form splinters into dozens of image/sound practices, ones that reference the generally elided history of avant-garde experiments of the last century but also respond to new forms of networked, digital life that invite artful reconfigurations of time, space and social interaction.

Infrastructures in Virtual Learning

Part One: Introduction and Initial Questions

In an essay written in 1980 about potential directions in interactive media, video artist Bill Viola famously asked, “Will there be condominiums in data space?”[i]

If you consider the multi-user virtual environment Second Life a “data space,” then yes, there are indeed condominiums, and a lot more. As visitors to Second Life know, much of the design in Second Life aims to replicate material world structures, crafting virtual spaces that look and feel like the houses, offices, shops and classrooms we know from the physical world. This replication is designed to hide the code substrate upon which Second Life was built, but also, often inadvertently, to recreate traditional modes of interaction and hierarchies of power. Continue Reading →

Conceptual Vertigo

In their 2006 working paper “The Play of Imagination: Extending the Literary Mind,” Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown use the term “conceptual blending” to describe the ways in which players of massively multiplayer online games are able to take into account multiple worlds simultaneously, and in so doing, find “new and unusual opportunities for learning.”[i] One key to the success of these games, the authors argue, is that they are eminently social, but perhaps more importantly, the rich social fabric of the games “blurs many of the boundaries that we tend to expect such as the distinction between the physical and the virtual, the difference between player and avatar, and the distinction between work and play” (2). The essay, part of a growing body of work that highlights the potential of video games for learning and pedagogical practices, considers how conceptual blending is essentially a process for using “one’s imagination to read across boundaries” (2); it’s a creative act that contributes to ways of “seeing and making sense of the world” (20); it is a process that “does not simply project one space onto another or privilege one view and subordinate another to bring them into concert,” but instead constructs “something that is altogether new, a blended space that is able to account for the vividness and complexity of each perspective, doing violence to neither, by producing something that is undeniably true of both elements that compose it” (19); and finally, it is a process that is, the authors argue, especially pertinent to functional engagement in and with the 21st century.[ii] Continue Reading →

Graphic Convergence: Fella + McFetridge

Review of essay of “Two Lines Align: Drawings and Graphic Design by Ed Fella and Geoff McFetridge”curated by Michael Worthington at REDCAT. The piece was printed April 1, 2008 and is available here.

The Amazing Visual Language of Processing

Casey Reas, Raegan Kelly and Matthew Cullen talk about Processing, and its use in super beautiful graphic design projects…

Toward an Algorithmic Pedagogy

Colleges and universities in the United States currently face a daunting challenge: how can we transform longstanding definitions of literacy to account for not only the vast social shifts wrought by the centrality of networked, visual and aural media, but epistemological shifts as well? Calls for reconsidering literacy in light of digital tools are multiple and varied in approach and orientation, ranging from the declaration that every grade school student deserves access to a computer by then President Bill Clinton in 1996 (U.S. Dept. of Education, 1996), to the articulation of multimodal literacy outlined by Gunther Kress in his seminal book Literacy in the New Media Age to the taxonomy of skills characteristic of a new generation of students who currently inhabit a digital and participatory culture listed by Henry Jenkins in his 2006 paper for the MacArthur Foundation, ‘Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century’; here Jenkins highlights the potential benefits of forms of participatory culture, including

opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, a changed attitude toward intellectual property, the diversification of cultural expression, the development of skills valued in the modern workplace, and a more empowered conception of citizenship (Jenkins, 2006: 3).

Continue Reading →