(781) 283-2105
Cinema and Media Studies
B.S., California Institute of Technology; S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Ph.D., Cornell University
Nicholas A. Knouf
Assistant Professor of Cinema and Media Studies

Media scholar and artist researching noise, interferences, sound, information, and affect in media of the 20th and 21st centuries.

My current research project, entitled Noisy Fields, investigates how noise mutates and is mutated within a variety of disciplinary fields. I trace how noise causes interferences within these fields, and how these interferences cause a discipline to question its fundamental assumptions. I do this through an analysis of media: musical compositions, academic texts, films, new media artworks, fiction, robotic creatures. My research shows that noise cannot be grasped at only the poles of negative disruption or positive revolution, but rather should be understood as an equivocal force, possessing aspects that can easily be captured by processes of accumulation but still retaining currents that flow unabated.

As I media artist, I ask how contemporary technologies could be configured differently to enable new forms of subjectivity. I construct robotic creatures that encourage the expression of non-speech vocal sounds; write programs for mobile phones to enable people to communicate independent of centralized networks; and design web-based artworks that question various power structures. I endeavor to make the technological aspects of these projects as open as possible, as I believe in the pedagogical potentials of studying the processes of making media art.

I consider theory and practice to be fundamentally intertwined and endeavor to highlight this in the courses I teach. In the Fall of 2013 I am teaching CAMS 101, "Introduction to Cinema and Media Studies", and CAMS 218, "Theories of Media from Photography to the Internet"; both courses involve substantial work in media production, alongside the reading of texts and viewing of media. Additionally, I use media examples and presentations by outside artists in my classes to both illustrate and question theoretical topics under discussion. I look forward to teaching a course entitled "The Light and the Dark of the Internet", on histories and theories of the Internet, in Spring 2013, and courses on sound studies, video games, and software studies in future years.

I am a member of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts (SLSA); Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS); Society for Social Studies of Science (4S); and the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT). I also regularly attend and present at international media arts festivals such as ISEA, transmediale, and Piksel.