About this class – Fall 2019

This course introduces and consolidates traditional (‘wet’) processes in photography with digital technologies. The course is about understanding the difference between seeing and looking, and how various aspects of the photographic process shape expression. While this is a General Education credit class, and without any prerequisites, it will be a deep dive into wet-lab, film-based photography. Please expect to put in about 10-12 hours of time each week, doing course work outside of class meetings. Akin to science lab classes, this course work will mostly be carried out in the photography labs.

The photograph is considered in terms not only of what it is of and about, but also what it is, as an object, as a primary mark. This approach requires a mannered and well-considered methodology, one that is in keeping with many ‘slow’ movements, as in gastronomic circles for instance. Thus, students work with wet-lab technologies and materials, with particular attention to the film-based 35mm to large format cameras and silver-gelatin printing.

This course meets the requirements for entry into advanced-level classes in photography and digital art. There are no prerequisites. Art 261 also meets the College General Distribution requirement for Art. It introduces students to the study and creation of visual art. In compliance with the University’s distribution requirements and policies, students taking this course will learn:

1. The specialized vocabulary and techniques of particular media and be able to use this knowledge to describe, analyze and create works of visual, performance or installation art;

2. How to discern, discuss, or create form, content or creative process in works of visual, performance or installation art;

3. To place works of art within an appropriate historical, cultural, thematic or stylistic context; and to create works with an awareness of the traditions, styles, and historical development of the relevant discipline.

Studio demonstrations and practice are designed to establish a firm technical foundation, while projects, lectures and critiques explore the ways by which the creative and expressive impulse may symbolize a broader realm of human experience; “the cosmos in miniature” as poet Stanley Kunitz put it.

There is an important but nuanced relationship between our means of expression and our realms of experience; it can task the maker as a revealer, or render the revealed as reflection, the mirror as a window, and so on. Throughout, the course uses photography as a primary tool for investigating these ideas. There is a particular stress on how resolution, via the film-based negative and the highly nuanced tonalities of the print, affects meaning and expression. The course also refers to a broad range of philosophical, art historical, literary, anthropological and scientific readings along with frequent viewings of photographic works. The course will rely heavily on student-led discussions and there will be supplementary lectures by guest speakers. Other material will be taught by lecture, demonstration and slide shows.

The core technical text, Henry Horenstein’s “Black and White Photography: A Basic Manual”(3rd edition), is supplemented with numerous handouts and guides.

Required Texts

[highly recommended but out of print: Stephen Shore, The Nature of Photographs: a primer, Phaidon Books]

John Szarkowski, The Photographer’s Eye, The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Henry Horenstein, Black & White Photography: a basic manual, 3rd ed., Little, Brown and Company

All required texts will be provided as a part of the course pack. This is included in the course lab fee.

Equipment and Supplies

All equipment and supplies will be provided as a part of the course pack. This is included in the course lab fee.

Schedule – see the menu tab for more details

Class meetings occur once a week in Carnegie 311 unless otherwise announced.  Field trips may require excused absences from other faculty. While the instructor will validate the requests, it is each student’s responsibility to acquire these excuses.