March 27, 2011

Photography as an art medium is interesting and the perspectives to which participants take can really lead you down an abstract though path. Blake Andrews recently posted a quote which I thought was worth sharing:

“I’m genuinely concerned about the number of young people that are pursuing degrees in photography, presumably thinking that the success criteria in this medium stems from joining the canon of photography as contemporary art, and then make a living out of that position. Such aspirations are founded upon a disingenuous idea – that photography is democratic, and therefore everyone has a fighting, almost entrepreneurial chance to be a leading light in this ‘democratic medium’ – when in fact both these aspirations and the art market are not democratic whatsoever, but are about being the one lifted from the many.” From Charlotte Cotton

Equally worth noting is Shuman’s reponse that Bryan F quoted:

“I think photographic education has reached a crossroads. One direction leads down the vocational route – whether that’s training people to be jobbing photographers or art careerists – and there’s a lot a pressure for it to go this way, promoting photography as a commodifiable skill. The other direction, which I think could be much more promising, is that instead of the focus being on a career in photography, the focus could be on the subject of photography itself. This medium is rapidly becoming one that parallels the written word in many ways – it’s embedding itself within culture, and within digital culture in particular, as an important form of communication, with its own vocabularies and variations, its own visual languages, dialects, grammars, accents, applications, and so on. But when people choose to study subjects that centre on the written word – Literature, Classics, Philosophy, and so on – their intention is not always to be the next great novelist, philosopher or epic poet; their interested in trying to understand how a particular medium has been used to communicate ideas. If this approach could be applied to the photographic medium, both in terms of its historical and critical studies and in relation to students’ own practice, it could be incredibly liberating. Instead of it being a discipline, photography could become a fully-fledged subject. I think that expectations would change dramatically if it was approached in this way, but of course it’s scary for institutions to promote a visual medium as something other than ‘Art’. For me, it possesses incredible promise as a subject – just because it’s a visual discipline doesn’t mean that it has to sit exclusively within a fine-art educational construct or context.”

For more on the subject and the following discussion click here

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