Photography as an Art Form
General Catalog Course Title:
Selected Topics
Terms Offered:
Fall 2015
Fall 2014

If we see our passage on earth as a theatrical play, what snapshots of our experiences would we wish to share with our contemporaries? At the core of this class is the desire to go deep within ourselves and explore how we can artistically and critically materialize the intimate relationship between our body/mind and the arts. Some of the situated questions we will raise for example are: What aesthetic principles underlie and inform our practices? How do we see the boundaries between Design, Art, and Photography? What is our relation to light, darkness, and color? How do we acknowledge our construction of reality through our senses and lenses? Through diverse subjects centered around Body/Mind (self portrait, the bare body, sex, race and gender, a surreal moment, metamorphosis); and the creative gesture (light and shadows, still life, wrapping, the unknown, portrait of an artist), this class will focus on restructuring our experience across the fields of visual and performing arts – including painting, sculpture, design, installation and performance. We will be committed to explore photography as a Conceptual or Experiential Art and NOT as a documentary practice. You will be encouraged to think of each exercise as being a (sometimes highly designed) visual poem condensing your critical position, humour, thoughts and feelings on the subjects mentioned above. Our photographic production will lean towards a “new Social Surrealism” which I could best describe as: set up or staged “portraits of our time,” photographs as paintings, advertising or (slightly) burlesque compositions, theatrical narratives or artistic essays. In short, you will be required to show, through your photographs, your critical distance vis-a-vis your sensual and intellectual understanding of each theme. Since the class is not solely about photography and not about photographic techniques, there is no restriction as to what tools you could use: analog or digital cameras, scanning devices, stylus drawing tools and photoshop can all be put to use to enrich your aesthetic vision. Regarding your previous experience with photography, you may be in a much better position if you have already taken a photography class (but some students have done well with no or little experience). For each weekly assignment everyone is expected to produce a large-format photograph (a minimum of  20" wide) in B & W or in color. Everyone is also expected to present their work-in-progress on two other boards, showing the various stages of your creative process, including, for example: your 3 best pictures of the week, contact prints of weekly training exercises, copies of your conceptual sketches and library research notes. Each weekly meeting will be centered around a pin-up of the work and a class critique in which you’ll learn to become a teacher and relate your observations to design, photography, the arts, your own field of interest, and your life in general. The group critique will be the major tool to develop our growth and understanding; please take this class only if you are planning to give your full participation during these class pin-ups. Final grade will be based on the average evaluation of all 10 projects and home work and on a final critique and exhibition presented in the Wurster lobby. This is a class that requires a lot of work (for 4 units and not 1-4 as described above by the computer format), time commitment and heart. It is not advised to take an architectural design studio at the same time although a few have done it. Homework will take a minimum of 12 hours per week and possibly 16 hours or more.  Selection to be admitted into the class will be as follow: you will fill out a questionnaire at the end of the first day of class and schedule short interviews with the teacher on the next day, during which I would love to see any of your work in the visual arts. The following day (the second day after the first class), the final class list with CEC and waiting list will be posted on my office door at #349 Wurster. In other words, since being registered in the class is by consent of the instructor, the campus waiting list serves only as a temporary reference and does not imply that you’ll be included in the class; if you are not on  the waiting list, you have as many chances as anyone else to be admitted. If you want to check the teacher’s work, see the book of photography Bodyscapes and website at: www.jeanpaulbourdier.com.

For more detailed information about classes, please visit the UC Berkeley Online Schedule of Classes.