From: Judy Seigel (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: 02/07/00-12:41:26 AM Z
On Sat, 5 Feb 2000, Sarah Van Keuren wrote:
> ... Why shouldn't undergraduate students who know that they want to
> continue to work in non-silver have the benefit of pre-existing non-silver
> facilities in graduate school, equipment such as actinic light sources,
> contact frames, a non-silver darkroom, drying racks, a fume hood, scales,
> non-silver chemicals? And more importantly, why shouldn't these students
> benefit from the experience of teachers who have trod these paths earlier? I
> benefited from the experience of those who taught me non-silver and I hope
> that my students benefit from my experience and manage to go beyond what I
> have been able to do.
Well put, Sarah. Too often, the photo department is in hands of
"straight" photographers who don't think "alt" is serious or matters, and
assign the teaching to a regular who may not even have done the processes,
or at best is a beginner. Or if they realize they need someone with
special knowledge, they don't have a clue how to judge it, it's all
abracadabra to them.
Nor do they have a clue about the needs of non-silver "studio" which are
very different from regular darkroom, and add insult to injury by teaching
students to coat by yellow bug light. Even when they TRY, they're likely
to get it wrong, because it's again folks WAY out of their area of
expertise. (I still don't know whether to laugh or cry when I think of the
cockamamie light system they installed at ICP, with drawers and timers and
fans and a protocol that simply drove us nuts -- and cost a small
> There is an attitude associated with non-silver, a cultivation of patience,
> a sensitivity to materials, a connectedness of hand and eye, of paper fiber
> and photographic image, that goes beyond technique. Non-silver is a vast
> area. Gum bichromate alone, as I can see in the 'threads' of this alt-photo
> group and in Post-Factory Photography,is grist for many mills, a medium for
> various temperaments. I don't think it is realistic or fair to expect the
> photo professor who only works in silver and the graduate student in the
> year 2000 to start from scratch with the exploration of non-silver. Two
> years is not long enough.
> We don't tell the photographer who wants to work digitally to reinvent
> Photoshop. Graduate school is such a sacrifice for many students,
> leaving them saddled with debt for the rest of their lives. Let's give
> them something more than a genial willingness to puzzle things out
> with them. Let's give them wings so that they can fly in the future.
Again well said, but oh so very rare ! Also, many departments say they
"teach non-silver," but have one "non-silver" and maybe one platinum
course. My students at Pratt were always hungry for more, but in the
context of an excellent art school, there were plenty of electives,
especially in the print and computer departments, to keep them happy.
They also tended to take the non-silver processes into other departments,
eg, illustration, and book making, which was an excellent "marriage."
However let me play devil's advocate for a moment. When I went to art
school (Cooper Union, 1 & a half million years ago), I nearly dropped out
the first year because I found two of the required courses so uncongenial
(understatement) -- lettering and drafting. I wanted to do nothing but
"Cooper style" decorative illustration and paint and draw. But guess
what... 20 minutes after I graduated that stuff was passe, meaningless,
used up. I had to teach myself painting and "art" ever since (doesn't
everybody? Drawing I suspect is hardwired.) But what I never would have
learned on my own was lettering and drafting -- and those are two skills I
have used again and again. (Like dammit the t-square,and mysteries of a 6H
pencil, and all those signs in protest marches !!!)
Which is to say, inbetween the student teaching the teacher and paying for
the privilege, and the student blissing out on the current style in "alt,"
there should be a well thought-out curriculum, planned by experts... maybe
even (I know this is radical) teach the little monsters METRIC, and flunk
them if they don't learn it (or send them to work in the Post Office which
doesn't do metric either.) !!!
| Judy Seigel, Editor >
| World Journal of Post-Factory Photography > "HOW-TO and WHY"
| email@example.com >
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