Parallel Media: Strategies of Convergence in the Classroom

By Gene Gort and Ken Steen.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Media Artist Gene Gort and Composer/Sound Artist Ken Steen collaborate on projects they coin, “parallel media”; works that challenge conventional form, gallery and performance practice. This mode of production has at its core a single vision realized through multiple, simultaneous iterations. Among these are static and time-based media presented through a combination of gallery installation, performance, web and other types of media distribution systems. These are works that place clear participant/audience focus on the process of creation, at once allowing transparency and designed to embody specificity of both place and time concurrent with the transcendence of place and time. This working model has allowed them to develop a pedagogy that is directly informed by their professional practice. In the classroom, “parallel media” fosters collaboration among students from disparate backgrounds through clear focus on a common art-making goal. Their specific example cites the use of written/spoken word, video production and music composition/performance but suggests it is not limited to these. Primarily, students communicate with each other through production and presentation of work mediated through a website depository as a database. The interactions between students are through the sharing of work in various media. This requires the work itself to be compelling, to initiate the need or desire to respond to other participants through creation in other media. It also creates a more professional attitude since the work produced becomes public immediately. The inclusion of verbal discussion, whether actual or virtual, is kept to a minimum in order to place clear focus on the production of visual images both moving and static, text pieces, sound, noise, music, etc. as the primary means of communication between participants in the unfolding of the larger art-making goal. Gort and Steen will discuss various strategies for implementing challenging collaborative processes in multi-media art-making.

Keywords: Media Arts, New Media, Multimedia, Art Education, Collaborative Practice, Music Composition, Music Performance, Sound Art, Noise Art, Video Art, Websites, Podcasts, Installation Art, Time Art

The International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 2, Issue 6, pp.35-44. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.097MB).

Gene Gort

Associate Professor, Media Arts, University of Hartford, Hartford, USA

Gene Gort is a visual artist, video producer, media programmer and educator who lives in Avon, Connecticut,USA. His installations, digital prints and videotapes have been shown internationally over the past 20 years and vary widely in scope and content. Current projects include Reliquary of Labor, a parallel media project with Composer Ken Steen and electronic cellist, Jeffrey Krieger (; participation in the First Connecticut Biennial, Mattatuck Museum, Waterburt, CT; “50,000 Beds” (, a collaborative video project curated by Chris Doyle for the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Artspace and Real Art Ways (three Connecticut regional art institutions); and digital printmaking projects ( He has been twice nominated by the Rockefeller Foundation for Film/Video/New Media Fellowships. He has received grants from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts; Pollack-Krasner Foundation; LEF Foundation; New England Foundation for the Arts, “New Forms”: National Endowment for the Arts Regional Artists Projects and has received two residencies at the MacDowell Artist Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, USA. He currently holds the position of Associate Professor in Media Arts at Hartford Art School, University of Hartford, a program he designed and directs.

Ken Steen

Associate Professor, Composition and Theory, University of Hartford, Hartford, USA

Ken Steen’s music sits squarely on the frontier between the acoustic and electronic domains of musical expression; often combining traditional orchestra, chamber ensemble or soloist with electronic instruments, processed sound and noise, mixed media or web based components. He recently received a MacDowell Colony Fellowship in 2006, a commission from the American Composers Forum Continental Harmony Encore Project and a Fellowship from the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism in 2005, and a residency at the Artist’s Enclave at I-Park in 2004. He has enjoyed performances by some of the finest interpreters of new music including: Robert Black, F. Gerard Errante, Cyrus Stevens, Kathlene Supové, Guido Arbonelli, Carrie Koffman, Larry Axelrod, The Italian Modern Ensemble, The Artaria and Meridian String Quartets, Fumiko Miyanoo, The New Ear Ensemble, Sounds New Ensemble, The Third Angle New Music Ensemble, John McDonald, The Saint Louis Symphony and The California EAR Unit among others. Recent premiere performances and sound installations in such diverse locations as Xi’an, China, Fortaleza-Ceará, Brazil, Spring in Havana Festival, Old Havana, Cuba, Merkin Concert Hall, NYC, New Delhi, Goa, Jaipur, Mumbai, Raipur and Bhilaspur India, New Britain, Connecticut, Tokyo, Kobe and Nagoya, Japan, Ancona, Assisi, Bologna, Padua, Perugia, Recanti and Trieste, Italy, Fylkingen in Stockholm, Sweden and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Melbourne, Australia, confirm that his work is fast attaining international recognition. Steen is currently Associate Professor of Composition and Theory and director of Studio D [the digital sound, noise and music studio] at the Hartt School of the University of Hartford in West Hartford, Connecticut USA.


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