RE: SPE and alt update
I have to agree with Christina, it was not a terribly inspiring SPE. Ok, I
didn't go to any of the presentations since I had to spend a lot of time in
our booth yakking at folks who came by, including the wonderful Christina.
(My first SPE was at UC Riverside in the early 80's.I spent much of my time
there hanging out with Larry Clark. He was an outcast, and in a way so was I
-- I was "commercial," not an academic.) Back when, people were interested
in process photography. Now, I dunno. Students would drop by the booth and
watch Dana make a platinum print and seem somewhat bewildered. And to top it
off, were totally unexcited. We did have a few customers drop by just to get
an actual look at us and say hello. That was nice.
The print showing the Christina mentioned was dismal. Well over 100 people
showing and 95+ percent were color digital and I venture that the average
print size was way over 20x24. And imitative? They all looked alike. I did
spend some time with a Ms. Diaz (first name escapes me) who was doing
copper gravures in 4x5 sizes, lovely images. We commiserated together about
people calling plastic gravures "Photo Gravures." When I found out that she
was from Puerto Rico, I asked if by a rare chance she knew Nitza Luna.
Bingo! She was her student at Sacred Heart. Nitza was a platinum student in
the Master's program when I was an adjunct at Brooks in the early 80's.
Bottom line: virtually no one is doing anything other than digital and very
little excitement about the handmade. This runs counter to my experience
teaching in Santa Fe. I keep getting the same students over and over in my
carbon class. They are excited! But I have to teach it in my studio. The
facilities at the college are wretched for alt stuff. No exposure units
there - we have to bring our own Pizza Boxes, whereas we have 3 plate
burners at the studio for a max of 10 students. You can put 25 Macs in a
room and teach 25 at a time. It's economical and efficient. Our way is time
consuming and not very efficient.
Speaking of pizza boxes, I require the students to produce a 10-15 print
portfolio, matted and in a box. For last semester's final, one of the
students remembered the box requirement on the way to class. The prints were
presented in a Domino's Pizza box he bought unused for a dollar on the way
to class. I think it upped him by half a grade point!
From: Christina Z. Anderson [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, April 01, 2008 8:28 PM
To: Alt List
Subject: SPE and alt update
What a month...way too busy. But one thing that did NOT keep me busy was
reading the alt list--jeesh! What a quiet month! Where are you 500 members
SPE (Society of Photographic Education) was once again a well-worth-it
conference. Ed Burtynsky's talk and images of huge manufactured landscapes
were wonderful. So was another guy named David McMillan who had returned to
photograph again and again to Chernobyl. These were only two of many great
talks. Of course one could only imagine how beautiful their prints would be
Little did I know I would not get to enjoy a lot of the conference because I
had 30 hours of board meetings to attend! I saw Darryl Baird passing in the
hallway quite a few times, and Janet Neuhauser briefly, Scott Weber briefly,
but all in all it was a visit BUST for me. Never got a chance to visit Jon
Lybrook at his and Angela Faris Belt's opening...oh, could have to do with
getting the flu while there, too. Which made hanging out at the wine/whine
bar next to impossible.
I spent more time talking to Dick Sullivan at his booth than anyone else and
that wasn't even a lot.
Which brings me to my first point--Bostick and Sullivan sells this really
cool screw in twisty UV light bulb for maybe all of $25, so with two of
those and a couple cheap table lamps from the hardware store, presto,
instant UV light table for those monetarily challenged alt wannabes.
Second point: what a dearth of alt process there was at the conference.
There was a huge portfolio sharing Friday night with a grand ballroom
filled with table upon table of work. The only alt I remember was a couple
cyanotypes, a couple VDB's, a portfolio of platinum prints by Gary Auerbach
who I think is on this list (?), and verrrrry little gelatin silver prints
either!! 7 of my students came, 6 of whom had their portfolios on tables,
two of whom showed alt/experimental work. We live in a time of digital
c-prints, and large ones at that. Kind of...ubiquitous. Now, granted, I
might not have seen every table, but I think it is a very fair statement
that alt was barely visible. More power for us altees to shine.
I was most impressed when I met Alida Fish at the U Arts booth. I got to
see her tintypes. They are gorgeous. They may be at Schmidt Dean gallery
schmidtdean.com still because I have a brochure of her images from there.
But I bet she has a website also.
It's so much fun being a creative anachronist, isn't it? Maybe we should
scan our alt prints and all print huge digital c-prints of them???
A lot of people seem to be using whitehouse custom color for digiprints...
Enough for tonight,
Christina Z. Anderson