UN/staging the UN/staged considers image making through a critical lens of the constructed and unconstructed image. It sets out to challenge the binary distinction between photographic works that are considered staged and those works that are considered unstaged. The studio reflects on notions of the authentic, the indexical and the document. Students will consider how these perceived representations of the real interact with other ideas and concepts they are introduced to, such as the dialogic, performative and relational producers of meaning within the medium, as well as the roles of memory and perception in the interpretation of any work by any individual.
The studio will consider ideas and approaches in photography from Henry Fox Talbot’s The Pencil of Nature to the subjugating anthropological images of the nineteenth century or the humanist work of the New Deal Farm Securities Administration’s documenting of depression era poverty and displacement, on to the near documentary of Jeff Wall, the docufictional works representing Nicolas Bourriaud’s concept of the altermodern and the post photography practices that question the role of the photographic image as a representative medium. It will develop a critical perspective from which students will assess and evaluate their own practices and intentions. In doing so it will address Bertolt Brecht’s contention that in order to provide the audience with a space for intellectual reflection on the events within a work, what we actually need is to construct something artificial and posed, a form of “constructed representation” and whether this may, after all, be all that photography has ever done.
As in all Photography BA studios, students are free to make work on any topic and of any type. The studio will teach them how to position the work in a critical context of its theme, and optimise its potential impact, enabling them to continue to expand the boundaries of contemporary photographic field.
The work of our students will use any combination of analogue, digital or inter-disciplinary techniques, allowing production of works that draw from traditional, experimental techniques, to latest technologies and photographic production trends, with understanding of how to make technical, methodologies, aesthetic and material choices best suited to capture, articulate and express their unique ideas. The studio will investigate the importance of building a personal photographic language and equip students with the theoretical and technical expertise through seminars, workshops and practical experience and produce a photographic body of work, that addresses identified specialist and non-specialist audiences.
It is the ethos of our course, to embrace break down of boundaries between applied commissioned photography and documentary or fine art practice to allow our students develop practice that can be equally at home in the gallery as it is in the applied sector, as exemplified by progressive commercial photography agents, such as We Folk, East, Wyatt Clarke + Jones and Art + Commerce who are working with photographers and artists. The course offers an in-depth understanding of the photography and visual art industries in which our students and graduates will choose to position their practice.
The photography studios offer a progressive structure of learning and developing photographic technical skills and professional practice between Levels 5 and 6, whilst integrating and connecting students across both years in production of personal projects with a critical perspective of the studio theme, from which to consider their work.
Students in Level 5 produce a Moving Image Project and a Personal Photography Project which culminate in a public screening of the works and a pop-up exhibition. Students in Level 6 work on one long-term Personal Project, which culminates in a multi-platform outputs: an exhibition, a publication, a portfolio and an online presence.
- Bate, D. (2016) The Key Concepts Photography. 2nd edn. London, Bloomsbury.
- Campany, D. (2003) Art and Photography.
- Campany, D. (2008) Photography and Cinema, London: Reaktion.
- Cotton, C. (2009) The Photograph as Contemporary Art. London, Thames and Hudson. (Chapter 2: Once Upon a Time).
- Emerling, J. (2013) Photography: History and theory. Routledge. (Chapter 3: Documentary or Instants of Truth).
- Garcia, E.C. (2010) Photography as fiction. Getty Publications.
- Soutter, L. (2013) Why art photography? London: Routledge.
- Rose, G. (2016) Visual methodologies: An introduction to researching with visual materials. Sage.
- Scott, C. (1999) Spoken image: Photography and language. Reaktion books.
- In La Grange, A. (2013) Basic critical theory for photographers. Routledge.
- Wells, L. (2008) The Photography Reader. Oxford, Routledge. (Part 3 Codes and Rhetoric Introduction p.110)
- Wells, L. (2009) Photography: A Critical Introduction, Oxford, Routledge.
- Wild, J. (2017) Re-enacting Tropes of Black Masculinity in Yinka Shonibare’s Diary of a Victorian Dandy. Critical Arts, 31(3), pp.142-160.
Image: James Russell Cant, Untitled 2019
Studio Art 01: We, the Contemporary
Andrea Medjesi-Jones and Karen David
What is ‘Contemporary’ about painting? That's a question this 2D studio tackles from multiple directions.
Studio Art 02: Art and Non-Art
Galia Kollectiv and Joseph Noonan-Ganley
Allan Kaprow described non-art as “whatever has not yet been accepted as art but has caught an artist’s attention with that possibility in mind”.
Studio Art 03: The Black Box
Patrick Ward and Dr Jonathan Whitehall
Increasingly artists are confronted with technologies and systems whose internal operation appears mysterious to its users.
Studio Art 04: The Thingy World
Rosemarie McGoldrick, Olga Koroleva and Jessie Flood-Paddock
The critic Viktor Shklovsky's striking words a few months before the Russian revolution over 100 years ago were against the attrition of routine.
Studio Photo 05: UN/staging the UN/staged
Heather McDonough and James Cant
UN/staging the UN/staged considers image making through a critical lens of the constructed and unconstructed image. It sets out to challenge the binary distinction between photographic works that are considered staged and those works that are considered unstaged.
Studio Photo 06: Disrupting Borders: the Personal to the Universal
Ania Dabrowska and Yiannis Katsaris
Disrupting Borders: the Personal to the Universal, responds to timely contemporary issues supporting students in making works that embrace speculative visions, deconstruct cultural and political myth-making and forecast new contemporary photographic subjectivities.
Studio Photo 07: Shifting Glances
Paola Leonardi and Lee Brodhurst Hooper
A fleeting stream of images passes on our screens: everyone has a camera, we snap photos on our phones, we upload them to the cloud, we like them on Instagram, we search them on online platforms, we send them to friends, we snapchat them to strangers.