Photography Departmental Philosophy
The Photography Department is a space of critical discussion and thinking through making. Photography posed the question when it was invented, where is the real in this image? It imitated reality, but forever disrupted it. For this reason any art made with or in relationship to the lens has to take into account the social and political space it helps produce.
In this department we expand our understanding of photography to encompass technologies of image-making as media: still, moving, animated, digital, analog, and everything in between.
We are surrounded by images, we all know this very well, but what is their effect?
Among other things, images are capital, and they accumulate affect; hits and clicks that can be turned into data and sold for profits. We labor with and as images, never being able to fully fulfill their promises of true reality, a perfect object, a flawless life, a clear identity.
Images have their own ontology, constantly being mediated through photographs, billboards, cell phones, your own reflection in the water. As images are increasingly created digitally, they care less and less for what they imitate or represent. With the invention of photography an image could be produced without a pencil or paint – the human was suddenly not needed as much. The first image inaugurated the post-human.
We are produced in relation to images: their language constructs the very categories of nationality, race, gender, age, and class, determining how we are identified. They have violent consequences when perceptions and judgments are clouded by effects like police brutality and climate change denial. Images are not real, however the real is quite literally a set of images that, like geological plates, continuously melt and crack.
In this department we expand what photography is to images in the form of the moving image, digitally generated images, lens-based technologies, and media technologies in general. Critical discussions in seminars, group critique and studio visits will help us to make work that engages our contemporary condition in relation to the ever-expanding remit of images. The department encourages consideration of how form and content work together to create meaning; as Marshall Muchlan famously said, the medium is the message.
The MFA is approximately 15 students who work closely with their Artist-in-Residence to radically shift and revolutionize their art practices. Regular visiting artists and scholars are carefully selected to expand the conversations within the department, offering multiple vantage points and networks from which to assess contemporary artistic practice. This focus on criticality, discourse, and speculation aims to foster rigorous artists who constantly challenge the media of their own productions, and therefore, the world these help create.
Each MFA candidate is awarded a studio space. Cranbrook Photography houses both digital and wet labs. The digital lab includes processing, scanning, printing and viewing stations. The processing area includes several iMacs equipped with the latest version of the Adobe Creative Suite. The scanning station includes an Epson 10000XL flatbed scanner for opaque and transparent media. The printing station includes an Epson Stylus Pro 11880 printer running on Caldera RIP software. The photography department offers students the use of two Mamiya Leaf Credo digital medium format cameras with 80 and 50 megapixel backs for both studio and field work. The lighting studio is fully equipped with Profoto strobes with various sized light modifiers, stands, and backdrops. In addition to the facilities in the Photography Department, the Central Media Lab houses a studio with infinity walls, and provides digital cameras, video cameras, lights and sound equipment for check out.