PHOTOGRAPHY - is the theme of a current Coursera course, hosted by MoMA. The course description sounded rather interesting:
"Although taking, sharing, and viewing photographs has become second nature for many of us, our regular engagement with images does not necessarily make us visually literate. This course aims to address the gap between seeing and truly understanding photographs by introducing a diversity of ideas, approaches, and technologies that inform their making." (here's the course info page: Seeing Though Photographs)Plus, I am into photography myself. So I registered. And would recommend the course to everyone who is interested in photos. The course is based on interviews and examples, and very lively and personal. It also takes you on a journey through time. And made me laugh out loud when I read the required reading, which includes an introduction and a quote of a complaint:
"Photography had become easy... the new situation had "created an army of photographers who run rampant over the globe, photographing objects of all sorts, sizes and shapes, under almost every condition, without ever pausing to ask themselves, is this or that artistic? …They spy a view, it seems to please, the camera is focused, the shot taken! There is no pause, why should there be?"Now guess when this complaint was written: not in the time of selfies, but in... 1893. The quote is included in John Szarkowski's introduction to the catalog of a photography exhibition: "The photographer's eye". Reflecting on the phenomenon, he also gives a possible answer to the modern question why people take selfies:
"Photography was easy, cheap and ubiquitous, and it recorded anything: shop windows and sod houses and family pets and steam engines and unimportant people. And once made objective and permanent, immortalized in a picture, these trivial things took on importance. By the end of the century, for the first time in history, even the poor man knew what his ancestors had looked like."
Interesting, too, to continue the course after this weekend that very much was about painted pages: the comic festival in Erlangen. Which featured Jiro Taniguchi in the main exhbition, and his detailed paintings of ...Venice, seen through the eyes of someone who grew up in Japan. Here's, of course, a photo of the exhibition: