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  1. #11

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    darkrooms forever!!

    Quote Originally Posted by jimgalli
    "A college is a business; students are our customers. Our customers have spoken. No darkroom, no students."

    The words of Brent Wood, a fellow rocket scientist and current Chair of the Art Curriculum at Victorville College.

    The rest of the article is fascinating. It is here.

    Thanks to Kirk Gittings for pointing me to these fascinating accounts by each of the Freestyle Advisory members. Well worth a read!
    Jimgalli,
    Thanks for bringing those articles to our attention. At the university where I teach the administrators have allowed the faculty to make decisions concerning curriculum, equipment etc. We have kept all the darkrooms in tact and have actually been given a good deal of money to expand the wet darkrooms. Students really enjoy making b&w prints and they seem to become much more involved in their own work when they begin mastering darkroom techniques. They own that work. It becomes unique and very satisfying for them. It would be silly for any photography program to abandon an art making tool as powerful as analog photography. Our painting program still has paint.
    I've been stocking up on used photo equipment for the school. Many people are unloading cameras, darkroom stuff and selling it for pennies on the dollar. I bought a 10x10 Chromega enlarger, with all the stuff, for $800.00. Buying equipment now at these prices has allowed me to expand the program so that there are 20 individual b&w darkrooms along with a number of special areas like cold light head enlargers and the 10x10. I have only 2 classes that are exclusively b&w.In all of my other classes students can make prints in any way they choose. A majority choose to make either silver or some sort of "alternative" prints. They have choices. Their art can take many different routes but the route that I have found that they like the most is silver gelatin printing.
    Jack

  2. #12

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    At the School of Art Institute of Chicago, where I teach in the summers, there remains a large commitment of fascilities and budget to traditional darkroom. Rather than taking over wet darkrooms for more computer expansion, they have sought additional space outside of photo to expand digital. This is at a school that prides itself on being at the cutting edge of technology.

    The school also offers stone lithography along side digital printmaking.

    At this point I am not worried, but as this generation of photo professors retires, things may change.

  3. #13
    digiconvert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Egan
    Jim,
    I guess I have an ideological aversion to using the words business and customers when it comes to education. I think providing a decent education in a society is an obligation and not a profit centre..
    Thanks for saying that, off topic but as a High School teacher many of my 'customers' would probably pay NOT to get my services

    You do make a valid point though, if the purpose of education is to expand someones ideas as well as their knowledge then a darkroom makes perfect sens in a photo course since it teaches you about the importance of LIGHT- which is the basis of photography, analogue or digital.
    Hmm- Wonder if she'd notice if I bought that :)

  4. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Egan

    I guess I have an ideological aversion to using the words business and customers when it comes to education. I think providing a decent education in a society is an obligation and not a profit centre. It will usually become perverted when run along business lines. You can't be thinking about the future when worrying about next quarter's earnings. I think many educational institutions have become centres for overpriced accreditation rather than places for real learning and critical thinking.
    As someone who spent 10 years teaching at the college level, including classes in critical thinking, that is exactly what is happening, especially at small, tuition dependent (i.e. they have no meaningful endowment) colleges. I've got so many horror stories... But that's OT, and I have to take the film out of the washer.

  5. #15
    Richard Boutwell's Avatar
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    This thread is interesting. I actually went to VVC and knew Brent Wood fairly well. I went to the school a year before the darkrooms were replaced with computers. It is very safe to say that if I were two years younger, and showed up for the first day of class and sat down at a computer I would NOT BE A PHOTOGRAPHER.

    I even unloaded a Hassleblad, an 8x10, a few lenses and a boat load of 8x10 holders from Brent. I would have gotten his Lieca too, if I had the money. I guess that is what happens when people "go digital"

    He actually thought I was crazy to start using an 8x10, because materials would soon no longer be available-- that seems funny now.

    I remember writing a flaming letter to a few of the students I was closely associated with when I was at the school about what a mistake it was that they were tearing out their darkroom and replacing it with a computer lab. Often one of the things that first interests a young person about photography is the process-- think of how many people say that seeing the magic of their first print come up in the Dektol was what hooked them. What I fear that we are loosing is that kind of connection and love with the THING that we are doing or making. Think of how many people really love sitting at a computer. I guess I am preaching to the choir.

    This is something that Brent Wood wrote me in an email a few years ago when I told him how big of a mistake it was to replace enlargers and sinks with computers. I also asked if he had any equipment left over from tearing out his personal darkroom at home.

    Brent wrote, "I don't agree about my decision either. However if I did not go digital the photography department would have been closed. I had to design a building and do it spending 300,000 dollars less. The printing darkrooms had to go. We retained the ability to shoot and process film. Scanning and printing wet digital.

    My heart is still with wet process pyro. I don't know if you have seen what high end digital has to offer. High end digital is better than 8 x 10. It is sharper, more detail, far more controls and the image can hold 14 stops from white to black. Yes I love b&W film. Once you have seen the high end of digital it is very difficult to go back.

    Frank and I have both sold our personal darkrooms. I will look to see what I have left. I might have a little pyro left. I do not have any more holders. I think Frank has a print washer.

    Take care, keep your mind open and look at what the fine art world is doing with high end digital photography and art."

  6. #16

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    Why worry...?

    Painters did not burn their brushes when photography got on the scene.
    Artists still work on lithographic stone, in clay, stone, wood, steel, plastics, etc...as well as in platinum, silver gelatin etc...

    I am totally convinced that digital photography will show us new facets of art, never seen before. This will happen when computer based imaging finds "its own"...

    Why worry? Personally I will never get involved in serious digital photography. Only one lifetime - and that is already spoken for. However I celebrate artists who work in all kinds of media, and hope for the day when someone, somewhere will show the world an incredible image that touches your soul, yet is completely done in a digital manner...

    There is room for everyone! And just like the lithographic stone there will always be traditional darkrooms to be found...

  7. #17

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    I've just auctioned off an abandoned and neglected Mamiya Press Universal camera today real cheap, and that speaks a lot about how I deal with this trend...

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