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  1. #1
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    The Academic Perspective?

    The "Ethics & Philosophy" discussions we have sometimes steer towards problems that scholars deal with, and sometimes I'm tempted to bring in some articles to support a point or another. I don't know if that's actually useful or a deterrent to discussion.

    My own status regarding the academic world is that I'm in it. I am writing an MA thesis on graphic novels and literature, and I'm thinking about a PhD in something related, so I read quite a bit of stuff on images, literature, aesthetics, and the like. I'm not an expert, but I have a direct interest in relating what I read on the academic side with issues in photography ethics, aesthetics, etc.

    I think we're primarily interested in making photography, but I would like to know whether you have any scholarly experience about it, and whether you find it makes any difference in your work. I'm also interested by the point of view of those who are not in the scholarly world, and how they perceive it.
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

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  2. #2
    AgX
    AgX is offline

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    I’m not a scholar but it is interesting to sniff a bit the scents of academic hallways this way…

    What kind of photography we all exercise, we don’t do it in a vacuum and it is worthwhile relating one self to such ideas. I like reading such posts, though my limited means of expression rather keep me a reader.

  3. #3
    davetravis's Avatar
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    Over the years, I've talked to many folks at the art shows. Most have no scholarship in art or photography.
    In my life, I've only had one intro to photography college course. I've known all levels of academics, 2, 4, 6, even 8 years of education. In some cases it seems to have helped them accomplish their photographic goals. But after reviewing some of their works, I didn't see where the schooling helped improve their eye. It's like you have it or you don't. For myself, sometimes I'm glad I skipped formal education in the arts. I believe I'm more free to screw up, and to get it right.
    DT

  4. #4
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Although my academic background is not currently in the fine art field, I did an extensive study in college of art history and literature, specifically relating to the Renaissance. So much of our modern culture and ideas have a direct descendance from the Renaissance, and the ideas continue to reverberate and inform our culture today. When we make images, we are still responding to those ideas, even if we are totally ignorant of their origins and context.

    To me, that academic background has been enormously influential in what, how, and why I photograph. For me, personally, I can't comprehend the notion of feeling pride in ignorance of something, or feeling that ignorance of some academic topic makes me better at doing it. But I've always been an academic learner - I grew up in a traditional western academic background, attended academically focused schools whose success paradigm was aimed explicitly at academic success.

  5. #5
    kman627's Avatar
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    As a current student (Mechanical Engineering Major), I've found that almost every subject I've taken has given me something to add to my photography. While I have taken photography courses, it's actually been other courses that have given me more. The photography courses were a great asset as far as learning technicalities and learning to make prints. But it's really the other courses that improved my "eye". I've found geology courses to be extremely beneficial, as for me it add something to a landscape photograph to actually know the science behind the scene. Although this may be lost to a viewer with no geological knowledge. But for me it does add to my own and other's work. I've even found my mathematics studies to give me a greater vision in terms of composition, as mathematical functions help in opening my eyes to the contruction of the world. I was also a telemedia student for a while and found that learning cinematography and viewing numerous great cinema works added greatly to my own art. I specifically think of the film "I am Cuba" Which sparked my interest in the infrared spectrum.

    I believe you specifially need any type of higher education to make good photographs, but I would say a well rounded breadth of knowlege will certainly give a person more insight into the world around them, thus making them a better photographer.

  6. #6
    kaygee's Avatar
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    This is a very interesting topic!

    I believe you specifially need any type of higher education to make good photographs, but I would say a well rounded breadth of knowlege will certainly give a person more insight into the world around them, thus making them a better photographer.
    I fully agree with this statement. The more you know, the more you see.

    My academic background isn't in photography either, all the photo classes I have under my belt are a few community courses that I've taken over the years, mostly technical. My actual academic background is in archaeology, and I think this has greatly influenced me in all aspects of life. I was always interested in archaeology (when I was 10 I wanted to be Indiana Jones, and while archaeology is of course a lot less adventure in that sort of sense, there is the quest for knowledge that is absolutely true). Even in things I've written and things I've photographed, when I tell people I've studied archaeology they go "ah-ha, I can see that in what you do!". Archaeology has helped me to delve deeper into what I see - nothing is as it appears, there's always a deeper meaning, even if it's a piece of trash on the ground. What does our society deem trash and treasure? Why is this? This is something I've explored through civilizations that are thousands of years old, and something my photography has helped me to explore through our present day societies.

  7. #7
    JG Motamedi's Avatar
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    I finished my PhD a bit over six years ago in anthropology. I orginally came to anthropology and the academe because I was unsatisfied with journalism, my career, and its (in)ability to explain or even properly document human behavior. I orginally matriculated in visual anthropology, a subfield of anthropology, but after completeing three years of course work, my MA, and my PhD qualifing exams I found myself drawn to cultural anthropology. In the end my dissertation had little, if anything to do with photography.

    I do have a very large body of photo-documentary work (primarily 35mm chromes with an occasional 6x6 B&W) made during my early years as a graduate student, and I regard it as my best work done to date.

    I have little doubt that my photography is informed by my academic interests, and my current project of occupational Daguerreotypes is for me a perfect marriage of the academic and artistic.

  8. #8
    Daniel_OB's Avatar
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    I have, as my parents too, that academic background even from one of the best state owned art academy at the time, and also from some very good photographers as friends of my parents. It was very intensive study of history of art, way to trace some specific artistic problems, and finally photography as a medium too. When I got it all, cooled down, I forgot it all and just go by instinct developed through “education”.

    I have seen also equivalent aducated people with Phd, working as permament stuff in photography, asking on internet question like “how I can know is some specific photograph art or not …”

    So Academic education can means a lot or even nothing, depend of the person. Work, after the formal education is “over” , is the most important to develop a good photographer.

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  9. #9
    Andy K's Avatar
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    Michel, I'd be interested in hearing your take on V For Vendetta.


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    Anáil nathrach, ortha bháis is beatha, do chéal déanaimh.

  10. #10
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Andy, the graphic novel or the movie? The GN was a laudable effort, somewhat beleaguered here and there by naïvety, but the movie just plainly sucked, if it were not for John Hurt's great portrayal of the leader. They get extra point for making a somewhat directly political movie during the Bush years, but that's as far as I'll concede.

    In terms of Alan Moore's production, I think Watchmen is the only real masterpiece he produced, V a close second. His other stuff (like From Hell) are more of a Gnostic fantasy than a deep artistic work; he sometimes confuses complexity with depth, I fear.

    But back to our regular program, I can see that we have a variety of people who went through academia at some point or another, and I'm curious about those who had some exposure to the Humanities. Have you ever had the "oh, you're studying literature, anyone can do that?" The disciplines are partly to blame for their perceived frivolity, but it seems to be a common misperception you don't need to study what everyone takes for granted.
    Last edited by Michel Hardy-Vallée; 07-31-2007 at 01:56 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

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