Monday, September 9, 2013

Space Framed 2013/14: Constructing the View

Thomas Struth - Ulica Truda, St. Petersburg 2005

Photography frames pieces of the world we live in, constructing limits that seem to confer order and significance on whatever comes within them. In this sense, it has a fundamental affinity with architecture, which is also concerned with framing human behaviour, and which must also proceed from the given conditions.

Since its mid-nineteenth-century beginnings, photography has been used to capture the relationship between people and their environment. From the family in its domestic setting to the action of the city streets to the magnificence of remote landscapes, in every case a photograph says something – as often unconsciously as deliberately - about how people and place relate.

The space of photography is, necessarily, the space of human occupancy. In order for a photograph to be made at all, the location depicted must have been visited by the photographer (although in the digital age, this truth has been questioned to interesting effect). But above and beyond this most basic level, photographs offer a rich and complex meditation on the ways in which we occupy space.

In this seminar, by looking at photographs and reading about their making and their possible meanings, we will try to understand what photography reveals about the spaces we design, construct and inhabit. Our specific focus will be on photographic series, projects and publications. Rather than limit our analysis to single images, we will look at how photographs are made, edited, sequenced, displayed and published to create a coherent narrative or a consistent atmosphere; to deal with complex issues or to convey subtle messages.

This semester the seminar will run in parallel with a symposium entitled ‘Constructing the View’, due to take place in IMMA on Saturday, Nov 2, 2013. The symposium will be a day of conversations between photographers, architects and theorists exploring the ways in which photography may be used not just in recording built space, but also in its conception, design, evaluation and investigation.

In the seminar, we will study the work of the photographers and artists due to participate and projects relevant to their work. Our studies will therefore include Thomas Struth, Michael Wolf, David Grandorge and Paul Seawright, and delve into the background of their work by looking at The Dusseldorf School of Photography and the New Topographics exhibition amongst others.

Weekly meetings will include discussions of readings and photo-essays as well as occasional lectures, and will require written and presentation preparations from each student which will be included in the Space-Framed blog each week.

Week One Assignment: 
Read and study the images in John Szarkowski, The Photographer’s Eye (779.SZA, reserve collection) and Stephen Shore, The Nature of Photographs (770.11/SHO reserve collection) Select a favourite photograph from the book and find out more about who took it, where, how and why. 

Watch the BBC series ‘The Genius of Photography’, available on dvd from the Richview Library. Please watch episode 1+2, and if possible the rest of the series. (There is an accompanying book by Gerry Badger also available in the library.)

Familiarise yourself with the Space-Framed blog and the references and research from previous years' seminars on the blog.

Meeting in Hugh Campbell’s office, 11am, Monday Sept 16th.

If you have any queries, please contact Hugh Campbell or Alice Clancy via email.

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