Week 16: Spring 2010 Semester Begins

Don’t forget about Appreciate A Photographer Week!

After a nice little vacation, school is back. The first week of the semester is done. I’ve decided to make a few little changes to the blog. Rather than update for each class every week, I’m just going to focus on the highlights.

A quick reminder of what I’m taking this semester:

Digital Imaging II with Caroline Shepard:

The theory and practice of digital imaging will be explored in this course. The use of digital cameras; flatbed and film scanners; enhancement of images for various output options; tonal and color correction, color management, restoration and retouching techniques will be addressed, with a focus on creative masking and compositing techniques to create images from multiple image sources. Creating photo-real and surreal composites, exploring abstract panoramic image-making and creating a body of work that is well-executed from concept to presentation will also be included.

The History of the Book with David Ross:

The photobook has played a central, if neglected, role in the history of photography. Artists have always known that their use of photographs to tell a story implied the need for some narrative device, and the photobook has long served that role. From early artist books and lavish 19th century albums to mass-produced trade editions and self- published books, photobooks allow images and photographs to be experienced widely and intimately – shaping the medium, and influencing fellow photographers and artists, in profound ways. We are now in the midst of a series of radical changes to the idea of the book as “dead-tree” publishing is being transformed by the online revolution. Through attention to specific books, publishers and online projects, this class will examine the history of the photobook from the earliest efforts to new innovative avenues of self-publishing, print-on-demand and the advent of the photobook in a paperless society. In addition to lectures, guest presentations and discussions, the class will also include field trips to publishers, artists studios and special collections.

Visible and Invisible: The Lens as Interpretation of Reality with Silvio Wolf:

At once abstract and indexical, the lens-based arts reveal and transform the world. Using the visible and invisible as a metaphor, this course investigates the language, experiential and theoretical nature of the lens based arts in all its forms – video, photography and installation. Each session will consist of lectures and discussions of artistsʼ works, including: Antonioni, Arbus, Bacon, Barth, Basilico, Bruegel, Cartier- Bresson, Casebere, Cattelan, Lorca di Corcia, Close, Crewdson, Demand, Escher, Hatakeyama, Kosuth, Lutter, Magritte, Moholy-Nagy, Michals, Ousler, Richter, Rodchenko, Ruff, Sherman, Sugimoto, Struth, Viola, Wall and others. Works are not discussed on an historical basis, but for the insight they can offer to critical examination and study of the concepts explored. In addition to lectures and discussion, there will be assigned projects and written essays that reflect upon theories, concepts addressed and works presented.

Master Critique II with Gus Powell:

Group critique seminars are the focal point of student activity in any given semester. Guided by prominent figures in the visual arts, and assisted by their peers, students concentrate on producing a coherent body of work that best reflects their individual talents and challenges the current boundaries of their media. The program is designed to expose students to divergent points of view.

Right Here, Right Now with Lyle Rexer:

This course offers a forum to research, debate and unravel some of the pressing issues that affect contemporary photographers. Each week, we will concentrate on a question or a theme that is crucial to contemporary practitioners. Subjects include: does size matter? contemporary print aesthetics; the return of black & white; the new color; where has editorial gone? the power of the edit; roles of nostalgia in a digital era. Through lectures and readings, we will connect contemporary photography with historical precedents, and through discussions explore these connections to each student’s photographic practice.


This week was mostly introductions and going over syllabi.

In History of the Book, we will be covering a range of topics including:

Picturing the World – Early Photographic Books
Mapping the West – O’Sullivan Curtis and Watkins
The Modernist Photographic Book – The Book Between the Wars
The Soviet Photographic Book – From El Lizzitsky to Stalin
Camera as Witness: Documentary in the 1930’s and 1940’s
Camera as Witness: The Concerned Photogapher – 1950’s and Beyond
The Postwar Photo-Essay: Frank, Klein and Others
The Postwar Japanese Photographic Book
The Artist Photographic Book
The Vernacular Book
New Topographics – The Modern Landscape
Artist and the Archive
The Future of the Photographic Book

The main reference books will be using are:

Badger and Parr, The Photo Book, A History. Vol 1. Phaidon, 2004
Badger and Parr, The Photo Book, A History. Vol 2. Phaidon, 2004
Roth, ed. Book of 101 Books, The: Seminal Photographic Books of the Twentieth Century. Roth Horowitz LLC, 2001
Stephen Daiter Gallery: From Fair to Fine: 20th Century Photography Books that Matter. 2007
Roth, ed. The Open Book: A History of the Photographic Book from 1878 to the Present. Hasselblad Center, 2005

I’m really looking forward to this course, particularly with all the discussion going around these days about the future of photobooks.

In Visible and Invisible: The Lens as Interpretation of Reality, we talked about ourselves and our interests and Silvio dropped a few smart bombs on us like:

…a photograph, like all lens-based images, is like the peak of an iceberg: it may only how a visible fragment of Reality; through this we are given limited possibilities of experience, yet these limits offer us the keys to think, to imagine and to interpret the totality which this fragment belongs to. These limits offer the possibility to interpret reality and access – beyond and elsewhere – through the lens: the limits of our medium may represent a power offered to our visual experience.

Photographs, which are images of the evident and of the apparent, of the likelihood and of lifelikeness, may allude and reveal what is not manifest through the visible forms of the world.

The power of the photographer greatly consists of the limits of his vision.


Photographers, like sculptors, subtract matter from totality to reveal images; they impose frames to vision in order to create and bring out images, the ones they respond to and recognize within the matter of visible Reality. Different photographers see differently while looking at the same object and envision different images, as much as different sculptors produce different sculptures from the same marble block, because they see that same matter diferently, they interpret the same object differently.

We may see the photographer as a revealer, a recognizer, a discoverer, a sensitive listener of the visible matter.

It’s gonna be an interesting course.

In Right Here, Right Now, we took a quick look at some images and again introduced ourselves to everybody else in the class:

James Welling
Thomas Ruff
Wolfgang Tillmans
Vik Muniz
Hiroshi Sugimoto
Atta Kim
Gerhard Richter
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