FYI - Baylor is hosting a conference on Faith and Film...the call for papers is out.
Yesterday I bumped into this article discussing the disparity of the historical legacy and tourist future of the Nazi concentration camps, particularly Auschwitz. The author discusses her recent visit to the site, and as she passed through, she struggled with, what might be construed as her comfortable humanity poking through in pointed ways, with thoughts of her hunger (as starving), her tired feet (killing her). At each point, she shuddered at the thought once her mind had articulated it.
She wonders, as I have, what is this place? What place should it hold in our world. With my long interest in sacred space, is this a sacred space of sorts. Not the way a church or mosque is, but because of memory of the horrors committed by humanity upon humanity. The idea of holy typically connotes set aside, and in that sense, this place is set aside, not from Godly prerogatives, but because of its awfulness. With Israel's command to remember, in the Torah, this place serves as a place, a sacred place, set aside to carry forward the memory of those who were killed here.
As this place has become a tourist site, with its positives of moving forward the memory as those who survived the Holocaust are passing at an increasing rate because of their age, this place will remain, beyond their live and witness to be 2nd hand physical memory of the terrors inflicted here. With this necessity, comes with it the unfortunate reality of consumer products (coffee mugs with the word Remember printed upon it). There is something that turns in my stomach with this thought of commercializing this place, and yet, I understand the need for funding to preserve this place. I understand it...it still doesn't feel right.
I agree with her that this place, and others like it, along with the remaining survivors, these places and experiences need to be kept alive, images made, stories told, and places intact to avoid letting these memories slip into the abstract, but must remain as concrete as possible.
So while this is way overdue, it is still worth the time to blog about it. In January, my colleague Jessica Christy and I shared an exhibit in the MSU library gallery here on campus. It was to be a solo show for her, but she asked if I wanted to share the show which, of course, I jumped at the opportunity to show with her again.
Jessica is one of our closest friends from back in our days at UND in grad school. We were office and studio mates, shared many hours together in those places and as friends away from them. In the light of this, it is no wonder that when so many shared ideas, concepts, and such, that our work seems to hang together so well. While we are off on our own topical trajectories, we employ many of the same methods, concepts, materials, and forms. Hers often about the difficulty of navigating two cultures (Native and white), mine the memory and identity attached to the photographic objects. We both use pine trays, boxes, and found objects to explore these ideas in a variety of ways.
In our estimation, the exhibit hung together well, suggested an array of complex themes and ideas, and allowed the visitors to consider the symbolic nature of daily materials that have been re-purposed and re-contextualized.
Take a look at the works below. Enjoy!
Oh...and apologies for the iPad shots...its just too easy not to use.
Last Friday was MSU's annual Juried Student Exhibition. It was again this year a frenzied week of framing, finishing work, and for a few, starting, finishing, and framing the work all within a matter of days. This year's juror, Jim Park from Minnesota State Moorhead, had to pick through a record number of entries and some very good work.
I am thankful that a good number of my photo students not only were jurored in, but received awards as well. I am proud of them and their hard work has paid off.
On Thursday, my alternative process photo students turned in a salt print portfolio conceptually focused on the human body. I was so excited by the quality of work presented and the risks taken. Students are busy...unbelievable so compared to my time in college. I encouraged, urged, coaxed, cajoled them into entering their fine work in spite of the short deadline. They came through!
I've been encouraging them to consider the photographic object through this course exploring installation and printing on alternative substrates rather than simply creating a beautiful cyanotype or whatever processed image. Several have moved in that direction...good preparation for their final.
In addition to the usual awards presented by the gallery, Karina and I have sponsored a photo award selected by that years juror. This year, the piece chosen was an altered photograph of many faces, cut into slips, and re-arranged to considerable effect pursuing the idea of biological chances in ones development. Each strip represents something like 100,000 to one that you exist. Nice concept, nice execution.
Enjoy the images below.
1,2 Chicago Triptych, Cyanotype on Masa with alternative hanging
3-6 Cyanotype on Silks with alternative hanging
7 Salt Print on Masa, mounted as a folio
8 Salt Print on Arches Platine
9 Salt Print on Rives BFK Tan
10-11 Salt Print on Arches Platine
12-13 Digital Print mounted on wood panel
14-15 Digital Prints
16-18 Altered Digital Prints
I dont follow too many blogs, but I do take the time to look at Lenscratch.com's daily postings. If you dont know them, you need to!
I was double excited to see Lenscratch's post on one of my favorite artists, Heidi Kirkpatrick. In my Alt Photo class last year, I showed plenty of her work to the students. I love her imagery and that she is able to integrate her images onto so many surfaces and objects. Read the the article and check out her site.
Another repost from Bill Caraher.
This past week I enjoyed a nice set of papers at the annual School of Graduate Study’s Scholarly Forum here at the University of North Dakota. I was, however, struck by some trends in the graduate student papers that I did not particularly find useful. My papers tend to conform loosely to a template and some folks have nudged me to write a bit on my template and my general critique of conference papers in my blog. I am not super excited about writing such a pedantic post, but I’ll do it anyway. As always, if you do it some other way, have differing opinions, or just want to hate on me, the comments are open.
So, here are five rules for any graduate student giving a paper at a conference:
1. Read your paper. There are three reasons for this. First, it is tremendously difficult to present a complex argument from short notes. Complex arguments rely on a certain amount of intellectual and rhetorical rigor that is typically foreign to a conversations style of speaking. Second, if you have rather extensive notes, one gains little advantage from reading them. If you have extensive notes, might as well write out the entire paper. Finally, people at academic conferences are not there – in general – to be entertained. We’re there to hear sophisticated arguments. If someone in the audience is bored because your presentation style is boring, then they aren’t doing it right. Present a good argument and no one will be bored.
2. No More than Five Words on a Powerpoint Slide. My policy is to avoid the dreaded “Powerpointer” whenever possible. In fact, I’ve given it up for Lent this year. I’ve never quite understood the practice of putting words on a Powerpoint slide that are the same as the words you are reading in your paper. At best, it encourages us to ignore you; at worst it is a distraction. Use The Powerpointer for images that help advance your argument. If images are unnecessary, then skip The Powerpointer and force the audience to focus on your text.
3. Thesis. Provide your thesis within the first 2 minutes of your paper (or in the first 10% of your content). If I have to wait 5 minutes or more to figure out what you’re arguing, then I have lost interest. Your thesis should be supported by historiography or a literature review. As soon as you tell me your thesis, tell me why I should care. My rule is: drop your thesis within the first 2 minutes and then spend the next 2 minutes contextualizing your argument. For a 1500-2000 word paper, it should be 200 words for an introduction concluding with a thesis and no more than 300 words on the secondary literature supporting your thesis.
4. Use a Case Study. I am guilty of trying to say everything that I have ever thought on a topic in a 15-20 minute paper. While these papers stand as personal monuments to my brilliance (cough, cough), they are usually pretty rough on the audience. Recently, I have tried to focus my papers by using a single case study or single, focused argument. I try to keep the case study to around 1000 words and leave a couple hundred words for a conclusion that will relate my single argument or case study to a larger body of evidence.
5. Chose your Last Sentence Carefully. I just discovered this very recently (and in part it is a product of blogging because I never know how to end a blog). A nice, final sentence tells the audience and the moderator that your argument is now done. It avoids the dreaded “that’s all I have to say”, awkward conclusion moment. It also gives the audience something to remember from your paper and gives you one last chance to exude confidence before people begin to pepper you with questions.
I know everyone has their own style. In fact, when other people have delivered papers that I wrote, I’ve been told that my somewhat Billtastic style comes through. And I also realize that adhering to a rather formal template can imply that an argument resides – somehow – outside the text (rather than being coterminous and intrinsic in the text). I also know that some disciplines love The Powerpointer more than knowledge itself and so my somewhat primitive attitude toward The Powerpointer probably reflects my rather conservative disciplinary leanings. My post is meant mainly to offer some practical tips to students as try to figure out how to present their research at academic conferences.
That’s all I have to say.