What is a Photograph?
This class will introduce you to cameraless image-making techniques that are best explored in the summer months and readily adaptable to our remote learning context. Rooted in early photographic printmaking that predates traditional negative-to-positive gelatin silver printing, the processes we'll explore can be pursued safely in a home studio without a darkroom. This class is specifically designed to support students as they set up a simple home studio that allows them to test the boundaries of the common understanding of "photography" and pursue informed experimentation with our processes and materials. We'll focus on the meaning and modes of cameraless photography and abstraction and explore the language of the photogram, a cameraless image closely related to the monoprint, in cyanotypes (also known as "blueprints" or "sunprints"), anthotypes (plant-based emulsions), chlorophyll prints (using leaves and grass) and lumenprints (exposing black + white photo paper in sunlight). We will create photographic images using common materials and non-toxic chemicals to create emulsions sensitive to UV light, coating paper with these emulsions, creating compositions on paper with stencils, found objects and materials, plants, fruits, vegetables, and more, exposing our compositions in the sun, processing them in water and hanging them to dry. We will also cover some introductory concepts in the physics of light and the chemistry of light-sensitive materials.
Technical instruction will be offered in videos that students watch on their own time, and faculty will offer some live demonstrations online and be available for virtual one-on-one consultation throughout the weeks as students pursue studio work. Each week students will upload images of their work to our online workspace and choose to give and receive feedback on that work either in online written discussions on their own time and/or in live online critiques with faculty and peers. Students will also turn in a weekly process journal, produce a small body of work for a final online exhibition, submit a complete portfolio of all work made and participate in a final critique of this work. In addition to using online learning platforms to share work, we'll have a class Instagram account and together come up with other inventive ways to curate exhibitions of our work.
This class is equally suited to students new to photography who want to learn basic photographic principles through experimental, low-tech methods, advanced photography students who are ready to incorporate non-silver, non-digital techniques in their practice and experiment with new subject matter and materials, and students with a background in 2D media who are interested in exploring the rich intersections of printmaking and photographic processes.
This program is open to all students at all levels. Students without previous photography or other visual art experience are welcome, as are students who have that experience and want to build on it.
Our work will be conducted remotely, using Canvas, Zoom, WordPress and Instagram. The faculty will offer alternative assignments if conditions or illness prevent students from accessing our synchronous meetings, which will allow students to earn comparable credit.
Course Reference Numbers
Arts, Humanities, Education
The $150 required fee covers all supplies required to complete the program. These supplies will be provided to students in kits that will either be mailed to them or available for safe campus pickup before the class begins.
To set up their home studio students will need to have a few common art supplies, as well as the required materials provided to you. A list of supplies students are expected to have on hand will be provided a few weeks before the class begins. Readings will be provided as PDFs for download. An optional textbook, "The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes" (3rd edition), by Christopher James, is approx $75 to buy and $26 to rent.