Come and eavesdrop on a short conversation reflecting a sad state of affairs in art academia.
Below is recorded a conversation I had with Alistair, a new acquaintance who crossed my path several months ago during an informal process demonstration. Astonishingly, the conversation is true. Just the names and certain specific details have been changed to protect both the innocent and the nearly innocent. Alistair’s words are in italic.
“So Alistair, tell me, what alternative photography work engages you now?”
“Oh, I’m actually an art student at an institution of higher education. We’ve been learning a variety of techniques and processes in my alternative photography class.”
“Sounds like a lot of fun! Have you made any gum prints yet?”
“Yeah, but they all turned out quite badly, just a muddy mess. They’re not at all like the quality of your prints. Even the professor seems to have trouble making a good print.”
“Hmm. That must be discouraging. Maybe I can give you some help. Can you briefly describe your workflow procedures?”
“Oh, it seems we were always grasping in the dark. We tried a bit of this and that just to see what would happen. A lot of time was spent sizing paper and creating negatives using that Pictorico stuff. You know, Pictorico is good but it gets so expensive after awhile. When I have little to show for all the money and effort, it makes me want to just stick with cyanotype. Forget platinum. And until now, I’ve thought of giving up on gum, too.”
“Since you enjoy my work, by chance, have you gone to the AlternativePhotography website to read my articles and such?”
“Oh yeah. I’ve even shown the professor the gallery images, too. He says that you can’t believe what you read or see on the web. Gum printing can’t be done that way. Don’t waste your time.”[Crickets chirping] [More crickets chirping]
And so I close virtually speechless with little else to say. Does ignorance and pedagogical tyranny run rampant in your academic circle of art and photography? Please, say it isn’t so!