Since 2020, I teach courses on photography at Strudelmedia Live: I did courses on a variety of topics, like "Nighttime Photography", "Poetics of Space", "Landscape is Changing" or the upcoming "Psychogeography".
The Beach beneath the Pavement: Photographic Adventures in Psychogeography
The city has always been the stage where the most urgent conflicts of the times are discussed and negotiated. In this class, following a different photographic prompt each week, we will venture out into our cities and develop our own take on what's happening in our immediate surroundings today. Along the way, we’ll take a philosophical/political-theory perspective, represented in part by the Situationist International’s 1968 slogan of “beneath the pavement, the beach” (referring to the sand found beneath the cobblestones lifted by students to hurl at the police); Guy Debord’s dérive (an experimental behavior with goals including the study of the psychogeography of the city); and Walter Benjamin’s acute observer and investigator of the city, the flâneur. Different photographers have responded with wildly differing images to rapid changes found in modern cities and we’ll examine some of those — from the German photographer Michael Schmidt’s “Berlin Wall as a state of mind” to Michael Wolf’s look at the density of modern Asian cities. Join us as we stroll our own city in search of the “beach beneath the pavement.”
Gestalt principles of human perception explain how our brain sees patterns, structure, form, and logic in the world around us. Painters like Vermeer, Bouguereau, and Jacques-Louis David used these principles long before they were formalized at the beginning of the 20th century. They used these principles intuitively to make their work more dynamic and to achieve coherence in their compositions, just as photographers like Cartier-Bresson and Alex Webb did later on.
During this course, we will look at principles like figure-ground relation, proximity, and closure, and examine how we can apply these to our own photographs. Although we will be analyzing a lot of work from painters and photographers, this is mainly a practical course. Weekly photography exercises, accompanied by a detailed analysis of your pictures, will help you see these principles at work in real-life scenes and apply them to your own compositions.
Gain a new perception of the place closest to you: your home. In this timely visual inquiry, we’ll “deconstruct” the materials of your home, examine their relationships to each other, and come to a deeper visual understanding of your lived environment. Each week you’ll be given a practical photographic prompt to inspire and help strengthen the meaning of your photography. We’ll use Gaston Bachelard’s book Poetics of Space as a starting point for our photographic exploration, and we’ll discuss works by a wide range of artists — from Martha Rosler and Carrie Mae Weems, to Bernd and Hilla Becher, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Thomas Demand.
Nighttime is magical — cityscapes buzz with electricity and in nature, trees and meadows are glazed with moonlight — this scarcity of light creates its own particular drama. Taking pictures at night opens up exciting new ways of exploring our surroundings: the streets of our neighborhood, landscapes and cityscapes, or simply the light in our own home. Through weekly exercises, we will explore seeing and composing in low light to capture the eery and poetic mood that low light has to offer. Technical details like long exposure and lowlight camera settings, working with a tripod, and dealing in post with digital grain and noise reduction will be covered. An essential part of this class will be to discuss and analyze artistic and technical approaches by other photographers who have worked extensively in low light. As W. Eugene Smith said: “Available light is any damn light that is available.”
In this class we’ll look at different approaches photographers have used to depict their surroundings — whether that’s a vast natural area or dense urban space, or their own backyard or neighborhood. As our landscapes undergo massive change caused by human development, so, too, has landscape photography changed — from Timothy O’Sullivan’s 19th-century images of the American West and the majestic photographs of Ansel Adams, to Gideon Mendel's bleak depictions of a drowning world. With weekly assignments and a focus on landscapes that have been altered by humankind, we’ll develop instruments of exploration and discovery and look for our own, personal ways to take pictures of our ever-changing landscape.