This experimental course on photography will encourage the participants to follow a playful approach to all the stages of the creative process of producing an image. It will instigate you to engage in making use of photography in a free, unobstructed manner, liberated from its technical and theoretical restrictions and use it as an independent artistic medium. In this context, you will be encouraged to release your imaginations and play with the often misunderstood idea of ‘abstraction’ in photography.
The course will be based on historical visual references as a point of inspiration and initiation of discussion, which you will take on to produce your own photographs. The visual references will include a historical development of abstraction in photography as well as further references from important art movements, which were influenced by photography and from which photography took influences too. The visual references will be designed as such, so that they introduce you to a diversity of techniques and methods and they will be concise with only the necessary information.
Each week we will explore a different period and style of photographic abstraction and you will be asked to experiment and explore some of the techniques suggested by that particular photographic style and/or invent your own. You will produce some images which you will discuss the following week. It will be quite open as regards the themes, on which you will work in your practice. Although, you will be given some themes to work on, it will also be up to you to decide whether you want to work with a particular idea in mind as a group theme, and/or whether you want to explore something individually. Also, you will be free to choose whether you want to work in small groups to produce a collaborative project or individually.
By exploring freely different aspects of all the main photographic movements, you will gain a good knowledge of the history of photographic abstraction and of photography in general within the broader context of the historical developments in the arts. You will obtain this knowledge through your own practice.
The attitude of this course will be focused on the idea of play and this will be introduced not only in the making of the images but also in the way of presenting them. You will be encouraged to be creative and push the traditional boundaries of presenting a photograph. Other art forms can be introduced, such as drawing, sculpture, music, writing etc depending on individual talents.
Each session will last three hours. The majority of the time will be devoted to presenting and discussing your work produced the week before. During this discussion all of you will talk about your work and comment on each other’s photographs. This discussion will be the core of each session, as it will provide you with the opportunity to extract ideas from your own work, discuss the process you followed, reflect on it and on the result you achieved and make decisions for your future explorations on the weekly projects to follow. At the same time, I will be answering your questions, helping you to clarify your ideas and giving you suggestions for further experimentation.
The rest of the time of each session will be devoted to introducing the next style of photographic abstraction and providing you with some food for thought in order to embark on a new photographic exploration until the next session. Occasionally, during this section of the session, I will encourage you to play for five minutes with your cameras inside the room with whatever objects, surfaces and lighting are available. The purpose of this will be to produce sketch images as a brainstorming of the new ideas you are going to explore after you leave the session. In this sense, the sessions themselves will have a playful character and they will introduce you to different levels of receiving and processing information. At the end of each lesson handouts will be given with the visual references printed in contact sheets and with some relevant bibliography for further reading for those interested. Occasionally, I will also be bringing books and photographic albums in the sessions for you to look at.
By the end of this course on abstract photography it will have become clear to all the participants that all the play, you will have engaged in, will have taken place around four motivations for taking a photograph:
1. appropriating outer reality
2. conveying inner reality
3. creating new reality
4. reflecting media reality.