Last May, Mark Ferguson approached Jim McClure with an idea: to provide an outlet for High Mowing students and community members to collaborate on multimedia projects. Mark, who teaches French and music, and Jim, who teaches Digital Arts and owns a local film company, are now co-teaching that class at High Mowing School.
Like The Sinfonietta, the “Media Performance” class will meet outside of school hours and students will earn academic credit for participation. While there are some guidelines, the students are encouraged to devise their own projects—currently, the students’ working ideas include recording projects, a stop motion film, a trash sculpture concept, a film of a dance performance, and more. The class will share the finished projects at an event towards the end of the school year, to which the school and larger community will be invited. While some of the projects will conclude with live performances, the goal for many of the projects is to produce high quality video and audio that can be experienced by both the High Mowing community and the wider world.
“This class is a way of reaching out off this hill and making a statement,” said Mark. But the class is as much about the process of creating a high quality project as the final showcase. In Mark and Jim’s experience many artistic concepts are abandoned because the artist feels she lacks the necessary technical expertise or artistic skill. The Media Performance class will address both issues.
First, the class will provide opportunities to learn the skills needed to digitally record a project and effectively share it. “The media is here, the amazing technology is here, and the school has a lot of talent,” said Mark. “Instead of mindlessly consuming media, our students will learn to use it in a positive, creative and meaningful way.” Jim and Mark will encourage the students to embrace technology responsibly and intelligently, to see online platforms and computer programs as tools rather than distractions.
Second, the class will allow for the sort of collaboration across artistic disciplines that is not always possible in a traditional classroom setting. “For example, through this someone who has an interest in acting may find someone who is writing plays and films,” said Mark. This past week members of the class began a recording project featuring Mark on piano and senior Allison Jimenez on vocals. But the collaboration didn’t end there: junior Justus Schläfereit controlled the computer, Jim and Joe Laszlo ’13 taught him how to use the recording software, and junior John de Rochambeau filmed the process from start to finish.
The class will also provide continuity and longevity to the artistic process. “Working on one artistic project over the course of the year is not always possible in a normal class,” Jim said. During the year Mark and Jim will encourage constructive criticism and push the students to achieve the full potential of their projects. “Students will learn how to recognize effective artistic content... and help each other find the essence of what they want to express,” said Mark.
Photography by John de Rochambeau '15