Thursday, May 29, 2008

Currently reading:
Ceramic Uncles & Celluloid Mammies: Black Images and Their Influence on Culture by Patricia A. Turner
On Photography by Susan Sontag
The Black Atlantic by Paul Gilroy
Sound Design and Science Fiction by William Whittington

Beyond my own continuous curiosity, looking for those bits of writing which
might be appropriate to foundation-level readers, containing abstraction while rooted in the particular. Writing which considers the way objects and images operate, asking important questions about the authority of the voice, the use of media in the production of ideology, the responsibility of the image-maker, the impact of reproduction... unpacking, through a multitude of specific examples. That's the goal for the next semester - an omnivorous interest in cultural artifacts of any variety, whether it's a blockbuster movie, an abstract painting, a glossy advertisement, a documentary photograph, a racist ceramic cookie jar, a font, a newscast, a building, a public park. Not to equalize these "objects" but to observe them in all their specificity. I want to move away from art-world specific considerations and to view any object as potentially fascinating, any object as a carrier of layered meanings.
Any suggestions?


Anonymous said...

Flusser, Vilem (1999). The Shape of Things: A Philosophy of Design; Reaktion Books
Flusser, Vilem (2000). Towards a Philosophy of Photography, Reaktion Books

Never read, but also possibly interesting,
Harmon, Katharine (2004). You are Here: Personal Geographies & other Maps of the Imagination; Princeton
Macdonald, Nancy (2002). The Graffiti Subculture: Youth, Masculinity and Identity in London and New York; Palgrave Macmillan

One obvious 'object' that comes to mind is the educational institution they/you find themselves in. You're most likely aware of these, though students may find them interesting regarding their previous education..
Holt, John (1990). How Children Fail; Pengiun
Holt, John (2004). Instead of Education: Ways to Help People Do Things Better; Sentient Publications
Wright, Nigel (1994). Free School: The White Lion Experience; Libertarian Education

And they should probably read this too. :)


Seth Nehil said...

Thank you! I'll look into these books. The second semester of this class (basically an introduction to art theory) focuses on institutions, and within that framework we do examine art education (mostly using Elkins' "Why Art Cannot be Taught". It could be interesting to look at education more generally. It's certainly something I'm interested in, having worked within Montessori schools and having read into Reggio Emilia and Summerhill schools as well. Lately I've been remembering fondly the Junior Great Books program that I enjoyed in 5 and 6th grade. It made a profound impression on me through the use of "open inquiry" in which the teacher uses only questions to guide and allow discussion about a particular text. This experience of free discussion lead to deep questions of authorial intent and interpretation (in 5th grade!) and it stands out as one of the few positive memories of my public education. I'm considering the incorporation of some version of this into the college classroom, as one approach to shifting the dynamics of authority and encouraging conversation.

benbrandt said...

Haven't read yet, but came across "The Shape of Content" by Ben Shahn, which I've heard is a critique of art education in the institution.

And I liked Thierry deDuve essay "When Attitude Becomes Form" as an outline of the development of art ed.

Cabinet Magazine, I think, is based on meditations on 'objects'. One issue is about weather, another about fruit. etc.