The goals of this course are twofold. First, to give a better understanding of image literacy and second, to locate the contemporary moment in the history of photography. The invention of photography happened in many places at once, in France, England, Italy, all around the same time and not coincidentally. There existed, in Europe, a strong desire for the evolution of this technology and the effects were monumental both in terms of aesthetics in art and social thought. We will begin by briefly investigating the latter through the lens of literature. We will listen to a short passage from Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which details the effects of the printing press in the 15th century; published in 1831, just four years after Nicéphore Niépce took the first photograph.
After reviewing the early history of photography, we will dive into the 21st century, dissecting phrases like “everyone is a photographer” and “the feminist selfie.” We will seek a better understanding of how social, visual, and political culture has been influenced by the use of photography and its relationship to internet art. Each class we will analyze contemporary and 20th century artists from Rineke Dijkstra to Mary Ellen Mark, from Roy Decarava to Carrie Mae Weems, from László Moholy-Nagy to Thomas Demand, to deepen and complicate photography’s art historical trajectory.
Students will be expected to keep photographic diaries throughout the class.
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Rin(don) Johnson is an artist and writer based in Brooklyn. Rin makes photographs and abstract works based on photographs. Rin is interested in the intersections of lived-space and memory. Rin has exhibited widely in exhibitions and fairs in Berlin, Germany; Brooklyn, New York; Los Angeles, California; New York, New York; and San Francisco, California.
Matthew Morrocco is an artist living in NY. His work deals with ideas of sexuality and the evolution of aesthetics. He holds an MFA from Columbia University and a BA from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study.