RE: alt process at the university level
Judy's point here gets to something that has been bothering me about this
thread from the beginning. Which for me is the difference between
"education" and "training." The latter separates knowledge from the self and
the how from the why. I find this perfectly acceptable from a workshop
perspective, but not from a university degree.
This point was reinforced last week when I attended a recent MFA graduate's
oeuvre of experimental films. All but one of the films bored the hell out of
me, but I digress. When asked what he wanted people to take away from his
films he said, "a sense of existential angst." Hmm, seemed a bit
anachronistic, but I was at least intrigued. So I asked him whether he was
thinking about existentialism ala Sartre, ala Nietzsche, ala...? Alas, he's
only read one of Sartre's short stories and no Nietzsche, let alone any
others. He must have seen the horror on my face. He told me that as a
student he had, however, read "some articles" about the existentialists. I'm
still clueless as to how someone gets 7 years of education in the arts and
has little to no knowledge about the roots of their expression.
So it seems to me we ought to be asking, SHOULD there be a specialized alt
process program at the university level rather than is there one?
From: Judy Seigel [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, April 11, 2008 8:22 PM
Subject: Re: alt process at the university level
I've been following this thread with interest because it reminds me of my
youth -- that is, my search (more years ago than bears mention) for a good
liberal arts college/university that had a good art program. At the time,
there didn't seem to be one: Some colleges did have relatively strong art
programs, but they were mediocre in the humanities. And vice versa.
My choice at the time was 2 years at "college," then transfer to art
school. Some years later, a number of "good" colleges did get good art
programs (or reputedly good, I didn't test them) so that problem seemed
However, I suspect that photography is so much more specialized than
"art," and "alt photography" even more specialized, that to get a serious
amount and in depth -- well, you can get some outstanding teachers but
(for instance) can Chris Anderson/ Sam Wang/ Carmen Lizardo, et al, teach
an entire college program ? Plus you need all those pesky math, science
and language credits to graduate.
My hunch would be that, generally speaking -- and judging by response so
far -- choosing a university (or "college") for the alt teacher could be
as good a reason as any other (the football team, the co-ed dorms, the
climate, whatever), but it wouldn't be complete, either for photography or
I'll add that I had a couple of spectacular professors in the liberal arts
at college, in part because I could pick and choose without worrying about
credits for graduation, but when I went to art school, the "liberal arts"
(as degree-granting institutions, they all had some) were definitely
But I'd bet anyway it's safer to choose a school for the alt teacher than
for a "regular" photography teacher... because the one teaching "alt" is
more likely to be teaching process than style, and process lasts longer.