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Infinite Video: Exploring Video Archives through Code

Sam Lavigne, Ilona Brand, Jonathan W. Y. Gray
Section 1: September 19, 2023 to November 28, 2023
Section 2: September 20, 2023 to November 29, 2023

(10 classes)
Section 1: Tuesdays 6-9pm Section 2: Wednesdays 10am - 1pm
Online (Zoom)
$1200 Scholarships available learn more...
Applications closed on August 11, 2023

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How can code and automation help us see and manipulate large collections of videos in new ways? What do novel approaches in machine learning help make evident? On the flip side, what do these same approaches prevent us from seeing? What do they obscure? How can automated "content generation" be leveraged for political, poetic, and critical ends? In this experimental video art class students will explore the possibilities (and limitations) of using Python, command line tools, and machine learning models as a means to critically analyze, filter, sort, edit, and compose video. We will look at historic and contemporary examples of artists and activists working with video archives, with a focus on the political dimensions of experimental filmmaking. Students may bring their own video archives to work with, or use material we collect online. The class will conclude with a public screening of student work.


Course of Study

  • Week 1: Orientation — Meet the participants, setting up your computer
  • Week 2: Basic tools — The command line, downloading material, FFMPEG
  • Week 3: Dialog — Videogrep, natural language processing
  • Week 4: Editing video with code — Moviepy, vidpy
  • Week 5: Object detection — Splitting a video into shots, analyzing the content of shots
  • Week 6: Classification — Using classifiers, training classifiers, zero-shot classifiers
  • Week 7: Camera motion — Pans, tilts, and zooms
  • Week 8 & 9: TBD
  • Week 10: Final presentations


Time & Workload
  • Participants are expected to spend time outside of class working on projects and assigned readings, approximately 2-3 hours a week.
Technical Experience
  • Some familiarity with programming is helpful, but not required at all.
  • Participants may need to purchase an external hard drive, depending on what video materials they decide to work with. A working computer is a must, but it can be Mac, Windows or Linux.

Is this class for me?

This class may be for you if:

  • You are someone who is already working the video, and is interested in experimenting with some new techniques for working with video, OR someone familiar with the command line and programming who is interested in working with video!

Meet the Teachers


Sam Lavigne

Sam Lavigne is an artist and educator whose work deals with data, surveillance, cops, natural language processing, and automation. He has exhibited work at Lincoln Center, SFMOMA, Pioneer Works, DIS, Ars Electronica, The New Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and his work has been covered in the New Yorker, the Washington Post, the Guardian, Motherboard, Wired, the Atlantic, Forbes, NPR, the San Francisco Chronicle, the World Almanac, the Ellen Degeneres Show and elsewhere. He has taught at ITP/NYU, The New School, and the School for Poetic Computation, and was formerly Magic Grant fellow at the Brown Institute at Columbia University, and Special Projects editor at the New Inquiry Magazine. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Design at UT Austin.

he/him · website · twitter · instagram


Ilona Brand

Ilona is an artist, extrovert, teacher and technologist who sees their work as love notes to themself, the world, and others. They work across mediums using music, poetry, code, drawing, and their jewish practice as tools of expression both publicly and privately. These days they are particularly interested in trans narratives of liberation, judaism as a site of ritual, visibility on and offline, and how we present ourselves and our work to the world.

he/they · instagram


Jonathan W. Y. Gray

Jonathan W. Y. Gray (jwyg) is Director of the Centre for Digital Culture and Senior Lecturer in Critical Infrastructure Studies at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London; Cofounder of the Public Data Lab; and Research Associate at the Digital Methods Initiative (University of Amsterdam) and the médialab (Sciences Po, Paris). His research explores the role of digital data, methods and infrastructures in the “composition of collective life”. More about his work can be found at ,, and at @jwyg.

he/him · website · twitter · instagram


Our programs are conducted in spoken English with audiovisual materials such as slides, code examples and video. Online programs are held over Zoom.

Please take care and be well. We hope you are comfortable in your housing, living, and working situation in general. Never hesitate to ask us for advice and reach out if you have accessibility requests or need any assistance during your time at SFPC. We will work closely with you towards co-creating the most accommodating learning environment for your needs.

reach out with questions about access...

How do I apply?

Apply Now

What is a video archive you'd like to work with? This could be something that you already have access to, or something you'd like to collect.

Applications open until Applications closed on August 11, 2023.

You can expect to hear back from us about the status of your application on August 25, 2023. Please email us at with any questions you have.

more about what we look for in participants...

How much does it cost to attend?

For 10 classes, it costs $1200 + processing fees, for a one-time payment. We also offer payment plans. Participants can schedule weekly or monthly payments of the same amount. First and last payments must be made before the start and end of class. *Processing fees apply for each payment.

SFPC processes all payments via Withfriends and Stripe. Please email if these payment options don't work for you.

Upon payment, your space in the class will be reserved. We offer scholarships for those who cannot pay full tuition. Read more about scholarships below.

I can’t pay for SFPC. Can I come at a reduced rate, or for free?

If you can’t pay full tuition, we really still want you to apply. Our application will ask you how much you can pay. We will offer subsidized positions in all of our classes, once each one has enough participants enrolled that we’re able to do so.

We have also started a scholarship fund, and we will be offering additional scholarships as community members redistribute their wealth through SFPC. We direct scholarship funds towards participants who are low-income, Black, Indigenous, racialized, gendered, disabled, Queer, trans, oppressed, historicially excluded and underrepresented.

Right now, tuition is SFPC’s main source of income, and that is a problem. It means that we can only pay teachers, pay for space, and organize programs when participants pay full tuition to attend. Tuition is a huge barrier to entry into the SFPC community, and it disproportionately limits Black participants, indigenous participants, queer and trans participants, and other people who are marginalized, from participating. Scholarships are not a long term solution for us, but in the short and medium term we hope to offer them more while we work towards transforming SFPC’s financial model.

How can I help others to attend SFPC?

For SFPC to be the kind of place the community has always meant it to be, it needs to become a platform for wealth redistribution. If you are a former participant, prospective participant, or friend of the school, and you have the financial privilege to do so, please donate generously. There is enough wealth in this community to make sure no one is ever rejected because of their inability to pay, and becoming that school will make SFPC the impactful, imaginative, transformative center of poetry and justice that we know it can be.

What if I can’t go, can I get a refund?

  • Yes, we can give you 100% refund up to 10 days before class starts
  • 50% refund after 10 days, until the first day of the class
  • No refunds can be given after the first day of the class

Interested in more learning opportunities at the School for Poetic Computation? Join our newsletter to stay up to date on future sessions and events, and follow us on Instagram and Twitter. Support our programming through scholarships. Get in touch over email.