Benjamin Rosenthal is an interdisciplinary artist and Assistant Professor of Expanded Media at the University of Kansas. Prior to joining the faculty, he lectured in video at the University of California, Davis. His work centers around the strategies of how we perform—the systems of control we set in place, and the ways we negotiate our psychological, tangible, and virtual positions.
Benjamin received his B.F.A. in Art (Electronic and Time-Based Media) from Carnegie Mellon University in 2006 and his M.F.A. in Art Studio from the University of California, Davis in 2011. While his formal training is primarily in film/video and related forms, his practice extends into performance, animation, web-based interactive work, installation, drawing, and sound.
"I am interested in a practice where ideas moves across materials and methodologies, as I seek new ways to address burning questions from different angles of approach. Moving between tangible space, visible time, and invisible space, I find myself questioning the authenticity of our physical experience in an age where the boundaries between reality and the virtual become indistinguishable."
My core role as an educator is to give students the conceptual and technical tools, and the agency to utilize those tools, to communicate what it is that they are passionate about in their world and the world at large. I am interested in fostering a creative environment in which students are able to push themselves to the boundaries of their limitations, and as such have the possibility to make meaningful progress in their goals as critical thinkers. Tantamount to these immediate and more material goals, I aim to help build a sense of community in the classroom that provides students with an ongoing network of feedback and support outside of the limits of a single course. In this way, I hope to facilitate the total development of a maker—an independently strong creative producer who simultaneously exists as part of a larger intellectual community.
My classroom is an open one, and I welcome the interjection of new possibilities. We are supportive, but we are also extremely rigorous, and that toughness comes from a desire to see all members of the class unit develop to their fullest potential. My own practice is multi-disciplinary, and as such I look for areas of strength in all aspects of a particular student’s creative production. Using methodologies endemic to those individual areas of strength, I aim to help students better identify with the new questions posed in a course by relating those questions to what they already know from their past experience. For example, if a student is strong in sculpture, we would discuss the possibilities of building believable and dynamic space in a media environment—for a painter we might engage with the development of composition over time. I believe that all students are different and as such I teach to the student—not the model.
Class time is structured around technical demonstrations, the presentation of work both historically and thematically, critique, and some in-class work time. The majority of production happens outside of the class, as class time is reserved for engaging more deeply with each other about the topics at hand and I feel students need time without input to immerse themselves in their projects. Assignments are kept as conceptually open as possible in order to allow students the agency to explore ideas important to their own interests. Increasing in intensity and in the amount of time allotted, assignments are designed to get students to dive right in to the material and develop relationships to the form as fast as possible. My expectations are high, and I expect ambition and commitment, but I find that by treating students as professionals their expectations and belief in themselves become even greater and the work ends up speaking for itself.