Thoughts on Life, Art, Photography, Technology, Teaching and Travel…..
I’m taking photography critic and author A.D. Coleman’s online “VASA Transmedia” workshop on Teaching Photo Criticism and I must say its an eye opening learning experience! He has incredible insight and a wealth of knowledge concerning all aspects of the photographic medium, in addition to being extremely well versed on the history of photography. I’ve enjoyed listening to him share his vast photographic knowledge, theories and experiences via weekly Skype conference calls. His informative and not always politically correct essays on photography are also engaging to me and my fellow photography Professors on multiple levels. His essays have been a catalyst for some engaging discussions both in our online “Ning” classroom and on Skype. One in particular “The Destruction Business: Some Thoughts on the Function of Criticism” has me completely rethinking how I view criticism and critics in general.
He refers to a concept called critical distance “that ability to step back from even the most engrossing work of art or emotionally embroiling situation in order to observe and assess it disinterestedly”. This concept related back to our first weeks discussion that stressed addressing description and analysis first when critiquing a photograph or any work of art because its important to keep our emotional response out of that initial evaluation if you are going to do a thorough, viable and honest critique.
The nature of the photographic medium itself is changing rapidly and dramatically. In the analog world we were able to hold and appreciate a physical print. Those of us who learned and practiced photography before digital still treasure and appreciate actual photographic prints and see them as an integral part of the photographic medium and process – however those students and photographers who never knew analog “film photography” don’t necessarily appreciate or view the actual print like I do.
The young generation of photographers may view the “photographic print” in a very different context as I do and photographers from my generation. I don’t see this as a good or bad thing, it’s just part of the evolution of the medium that in reality is still in an embryonic state compared to the other fine arts.
As A.D. Coleman stated in his recent skype lecture…”we can’t even imagine what photography is going to be like in 20-30 years”. Digital technology has changed all the rules and given the medium new and powerful tools and applications for creating images that push the outer limits of the human imagination.
Don’t get me wrong… I am nostalgic for those days in the darkroom, the smell of photo chemicals and the beauty of a pulling a perfectly printed black and white print from the fix, but I’m also excited about the endless creative possibilities digital technology has afforded photographers. It’s opened so many new doors for creative expression and intellectual discourse and exploration. Photography is (and always has been) so much more than the visual documentation and factual recording of external references–it’s become an incredibly powerful and expressive tool for investigating every aspect of the human condition both internally and externally.
Photographers are still making photographs and many of the traditional rules (compositional guidelines for example) still apply, but now we have so many more creative options in our digital imaging tool box. Like A.D.Coleman said in his online workshop “you can make a photograph this morning and in 20 minutes it can uploaded to a computer-posted on a photo Blog, Facebook and//or Flicker and by noon thousands of people have viewed it. It can literally go “virile” on the web in 24 hours .
We could not have done this 20 years ago. So in one small respect I’m nostalgic for traditional analog photography, but on the other hand I’m excited about the future of the photographic medium (and industry) as well. Photographers are more empowered as ever before if we continue to harness and channel this thing we call digital photography for creative and intellectual exploration.
I’m not afraid. Are you?
For more information about Vasa Transmedia workshops to include A.D. Coleman’s online courses, the e-portfolio book store and other Vasa events and activities just CLICK HERE!