This sort of springs from both my art school rant and my morality debate.....
In the last few weeks, I have come to the conclusion that art-world, and by that I mean the university crowd, the gallery crowd, et al, is at what is possibly an all-time low.
Why I think this -
1) A hell of a lot of art put out there seems to be nothing more than some form of gloomy mental masturbation. Everyone seems to focus on such things as "artist statements" and "the deep meaning". Screw the art. The statement is what counts. Even when it is an incoherent load of babble. Usually identified by the use of the word "post-modern" every six lines. It seems even the thought of a piece being done "just because I like the way it looks" is enough to send many people into an apoleptic fit. Seriously, I could take a picture of a flower and present it two ways to the same profs. One way would be "simply as nice, pleasing picture of a flower". This would get an immeditate "F". But if I take the SAME picture and write a statement about how the flower "represents the post-modern fate of our vegetable brothers" and title it "Cream Cheese and a Bagel", I would get an "A". Whatever happened to art that people simply WANT to make? No meaning, no big messages, just pictures that people think look interesting or nice?
2) There is no focus on technique anymore. At least it seems so in photo. The UofA doesn't even offer a class on alternative processes! What the hell is THAT about? I have met grad-students who have no idea what I mean when I say "I work in 4x5". They literally ask ME questions. I mean besides the obvious TECHNICAL issue here, there is also the HISTORICAL issue here. I mean how much of our photographic history was done in LF? Well, MOST OF IT! Yet people have no idea what was used to make all these very historic photos. Sorry, but that sequence of the Hindenberg becomes more amazing when you realize the guy was shooting LF! And it explains things like the doubts about certain famous images (since LF is not the easiest to use). But why bother with that? We can just do what we want. It is all about the "statement" now. I mean seriously....they put some student work up recently, and I have NEVER seen such bad printing in my life. I mean, GOOD LORD! People, it is called SPOTTONE! USE IT! $12.00 will get you a 200 year supply. And a bad neg makes a bad print! We have one print now that someone made up in the student gallery that 100% pure mud! Everything falls between zones 3 and 5. No highlights, no shadows, just this muddy mess. Tons of dust too. I think the neg was stored in a sock drawer at some point.... And guess what...
The thing is like 30x20!!!!
What a waste of good paper! Look, nobody has to be Ansel Adams in the darkroom, but you MUST be able to make a good print in my mind if you are the college level.
But then I guess I am just crazy....
It's late....I'm going to bed....
Official Photo.net Villain
[FONT=Comic Sans MS]DaVinci never wrote an artist's statement...[/FONT]
Robert, you're missing the point entirely!
Originally Posted by Robert Kennedy
This print obviously symbolises the pollution in the post-modern environment and the way this is corrupting the beauty and purity of our Mother Earth. This also (in part) explains the dust, although a more holistic post-modern view would show that the Gaia spirit infuses this substance as much as it does the emulsion of the film. To disturb it would be to disturb the aura and post-modern presence of the image itself.
I hope this clears up the matter once and for all.
P.S. Wibble! :-)
I fear this problem exists in many disciplines. It seems that everything at some universities is politicized. Some folks blame it on the Vietnam war in the US - people who sought to escape the draft became permanent students - then moved on to the faculty.
It's the disease of post-modernism. I certainly saw it in the graduates of broadcast journalism schools when I was doing time at TV stations.
Your dismay is a common reaction to many academic disciplines (or lack of same) in the modern university system. Except for the professional schools (medicine, law, engineering business, some science ("Trade schools", the enlightened will sniff)), you will learn precious little that will ever be applied directly to what you do in life. What you REALLY need to know you will learn either on your own or in your job. Maybe the best way to look at the whole experience is in a detached way, and approach it as earning your 'union card', with a little ritual hazing thrown in. Learn to laugh at the ridiculous. There will be a lot of it around wherever you end up.
Clay is correct as usual. Remember that they are students too. When I went to art school, everybody was at a different level technically and emotionally. To expect otherwise is not practical. There are only a few instructors that I know that are worth their weight technically. You might apply to Rhode Island School of Design or one of the west coast school (Brooks or Art Center) This will get your foundation to work in the photographic field quickly. The main thing I would recommend is "to do your own thing and show only your best work and screw the others". Be there for yourself. Maybe just maybe it will start to rub off on some of the others. There was a saying we used in the military a long time ago, "Don't let the bastards get you down."
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As a certified artistic community outsider and 1950's old guy I would like to assure you that what you are experiencing now is nothing new for the self appointed elites of education. It has nothing to do with Vietnam or the 60's or any of the changes during the last half century. If fact if you read biographies of accomplished people you will find it has been a problem in education for centuries.
I fondly remember my arts class instructor showing his latest creations which can only be described as found-garbage-on-board-coated-with-black-tar. The "Art" was less then inspiring but the rapture and enthusiasum with which it was greeted by the faculty left me stunned. I no longer remember the phrases used to describe it but I am sure it was post-neo-modern-blah-blah something.
I let the insanity get to me and switched majors, and am sorry. Aggies approach has a lot to recommend it, get the degree but learn elswhere. Sad!
The couple of photography classes I had were taught by a photographer who was a professional and did art work that is held in several museums. He had no problem teaching proper technique, criticizing laziness in approach and lambasting some students for subject matter. However, if you strived for a technically good print, and showed continued improvement he was more open to subject matter. His main focus was on learning to see photographically and learning how to use materials to acheive that in a print.
I had several conversations with him and his opinion was that to many people think they are artists and choose photography because they see it as an easy way to create art with little or no talent. His view was that a photographer who has a very good understanding of the medium, its various processes, strengths and limitations and has technique down as second nature will always produce superior work and in turn can produce art.
My feeling is that you learn very little in school except facts, (law, medicine, architecture, accounting). The rest of everything else you learn by living and doing. You seek and gain knowledge and then hopefully you turn it into wisdom.
As for photography I believe you do in school as we do in real life. You do whatever is necessary to achieve your goals ( feed your family etc) and you do dream projects in your spare time. As your life's goals are archieved (diploma, feeding your family, etc) you try to get to the point where you maybe can make a living off your photography dreams. If not, you do it in your spare time.
Many photographers toil for years doing weddings, seniors etc so they can work in their own projects in their spare time.
I don't believe any school is capable of helping you achieve your dreams. You just have to hang in there and get what you originally signed on for , the diploma.
Great thread! Well from my art school experiences it was very hard to cope with the BS factor. I found myself totally ignoring the professors and just singling out the few students who I knew "Had the touch". I would look forward to seeing these special students work because I knew they were always producing something interesting. I guess that was my way of coping. Part of the issue may be the huge shift in mentality of what it physically takes to create art. Creating art used to be a journey, having a strong technical foundation which provided an ability to create. Now everyone is starting to ignore that, saying "the creation of art and how you got there is insignificant, all that matters is the final product". What people don't realise is the huge influence that the "creation" of the art has on the art itself!