About two weeks ago, I posted about Bruce High Quality Foundation, a New York based art collective. In particular the post was about Bruce High Quality University, a free, unaccredited, alternative art school they’ve started.
Several members of BHQF came by SVA yesterday and gave a lecture to the MFA program. There was a mixed reception with people seeming to be in agreement with the idea but also thinking it was a little idealistic and romantic. While BHQF did talk about problems in the art world right now, they were understandably unable to provide a solution. What’s interesting is that as a performance piece, their lecture successfully engaged us as an audience and now includes us as now the department is discussing the issues that they raised.
Today, a department-wide email was sent out to all the Photo MFA program students and faculty. Here’s a little excerpt:
Yesterday’s lecture hopefully opened up issues for your personal and collective dialogues. For some time now many of the faculty have been discussing what our future obligations to you as interactive image makers will be. You will be leaving this rare and nurtured environment for a world that is quite different than the one you thought you were entering. That is to say the making, the delivery, the reception, and the economy of the lens based image is going to radically change at a speed that may be unimaginable to us now. It is very difficult to anticipate in what forms and manners these changes will occur. The questioning of the past and the speculation upon the future is the content of our pursuits and our intellectual engagements.
As faculty we can only set the guidelines and hopefully the stimulus for you and challenge you to give up your own vision of the past and to challenge it as well as to risk partaking in a new arena. All of this is of course vague because we are in the cloud of this consequence of the digital revolution and thus it is hard to see around us. That should be our attempt.
There are models from the past: The Bauhaus, The New Bauhaus, Black Mountain College, The Visual Lab at MIT, PARC, DARPA etc. These are places which foster an interdisciplinary and a trans program exchange. We need to do it amongst ourselves, engage new lecturers, readings and examples that are not the “usual suspects” but enlightened outsiders.
Over the course of the next several weeks, faculty is going to meet to discuss these issues. I encourage students to do the same and we can have group meetings when appropriate. As students of the 21st century you all need to come up with some answers.
Finally, in thinking about your futures, you must be totally savvy about a number of digital programs. These include: Lightroom, Photoshop, Protools, InDesign, Dreamweaver and many others. Additionally it is quite clear that creative image-maker who can program will have more control of their destinies. To this end we will be initiating more workshops to address these various applications and we will expect you all to at least have the rudiments thereof.
I think it’s an amazingly interesting time to be an image maker and I’m excited to see what discussions arise in the department in the coming weeks. If anyone out there has suggestions for interesting artists and readings I should check out and share with my classmates, let me know!