|OUT OF CONTEXT
Art 315, Photography
Goshen College, Marvin Bartel, Inst.
THE AESTHETIC STANCE OF THE ASSIGNMENT
"Similarities Catching" is one of the characteristics of highly creative people. They can see one thing and recognize the absurd connections between that thing and something else.
It was a beautiful autumn day. I was carrying my camera on the Goshen College campus looking for a photograph. As I looked over at the U.S.A. flag I happened to be standing behind John Mishler's sculpture entitled, "Broken Shield". I noted that I could lower my camera position and make a photograph of the sculpture with the flag flying from its top. I was discovering an ironic visual metaphor for the kinds of juxtapositions (creative tensions) we live with every day. There was a similarity between what I was seeing and one aspect of what I often feel about the world in which we live.
In the 1960's was mourning the tragic loss of Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy. I was angry, sad, and feeling terribly frustrated about the seemingly heartless stance of organizations that still felt we should all be free to own and use guns without any checks for sanity, criminal history, or safety training. I didn't think any sort of letter to a politician would make any difference. I didn't think any sort of artwork I could make could change anybody's heart. Because Martin Luther King had died, my subconscious awareness connected the lynchings of minorities by hate groups. It must have felt like my hate of our absolute freedom to own and use a gun. At that moment my hate for guns felt similar to the way it must have felt like to unfairly hate a minority person enough to hang that person without a fair trial. I wanted to lynch guns to save people. I was feeling like a hate group person who wanted to lynch minority persons in order to save their own race. This was a "surrealist similarities catching moment" in my artistic life. It drove me to produce the piece illustrated at this link (use a full width monitor window to see it better). I don't think it changes the world. It helped me say something that I needed to say.
In this assignment I know we can't call up passion on demand. As students and during of our lives as artists we are simply diligently working in the studio so that when that rare moment of passion and inspiration strikes we are finally competent to create a worthy expression of it. In this spirit I propose this assignment.
Sign with pencil on mount or ink on print without distracting from the overall presentation.
© Marvin Bartel, instructor. 1998, 2000, 2002. None of these materials may be published or copied in any form without prior permission from the author. Goshen Photography students have permission to print a personal copy. Others may request authorization by sending e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
See Duane Michals build a photographic "In Context" Pyamid at this Kodak web site that has 18 of his works.
A web site from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts about Surrealist Photographer Duane Michals
Art 255 Assignments page
Art 315 Assignment page
Art 315 Syllabus