UC Berkeley Department of Film and Media

Department of Film & Media UC Berkeley

Courses / Undergraduate

Fall 2018

R1A-002 | CCN: 21471

The Craft of Writing: Perception, Prosthetics and Media

Chi Li & Beth Bird

4 Units

T/TH 9:30-11:00 PM, Dwinelle 209; TH 6:00-9:00 PM Screening Dwinelle 182


“I believe that at the end of the century the use of words and general educated opinion will have altered so much that one will be able to speak of machines thinking without expecting to be contradicted.”

― Alan Turing, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” (1950)


This class examines the relationship and boundary between humans and technology, historically and in our current moment. Since the time of Aristotle, philosophers and scientists have explored what constitutes life, and theorized the difference between “natural” and human-made objects, or techne. Prosthetic devices such as telescopes, microscopes, movie projectors, X-rays, ultrasound, and virtual reality goggles work in conjunction with human perception to extend or alter that perception. The experience of prosthetics has become ubiquitous in our daily encounter with new technologies such as Siri, Alexa, and Google’s search algorithms. How can the history of media such as cinema and television help us to think through the current revolution in computing and media technology?


We will examine the discourse of prosthetics as well as its political implications and aesthetic value through a selection of readings by authors such as Jonathan Crary, Walter Benjamin, Bernard Stiegler, and others. Screenings will include a selection of early and contemporary cinema, as well as some virtual reality and 3D viewings.


This course will cover a variety of 16mm filmmaking techniques, including hand-painted film, cinematography, and digital transfer with an emphasis on the avant-garde. Through readings, hands-on workshops, and individual projects, students will learn about exposure, the photochemical process, various film stocks, and digital editing. This course is intended to provide an historical perspective of film technology before the invention of video, a foundational understanding of cinematography as it is still used in video today, and an introduction to motion picture film as a professional medium of choice for contemporary filmmakers. Students will shoot and edit traditional 16mm film as well as digital transfers of film to video. This is a studio-based film production course that will utilize a range of equipment including: 16mm film cameras, video cameras and software, and audio and lighting instruments. The work created in class will culminate in a final screening/performance of individual and group assignments.