Interview with Professor David Bate

ART.ZIP: How is the Photographic Studies course connected to the fast changing world of photography, culture and history? And what has changed during the last five years in terms of course content, core modules, and needs of the students?

DB: In the 1960s the Canadian theorist, Marshall McLuhan argued we were living in a ‘global village’. Perhaps today this has more truth in it than it did then! The Internet clearly offers great potential for international dialogue and exchange. There are some clear consequences of the Internet and the other innovations across electronic media. Cameras today are complex computers, so as instruments they have changed the way that people think about photography and their use of it. In this sense the idea of photography is very different, it is possible to move images from screen to screen extremely fast. People can take photographs without thinking at all about the process of making them. This mobility of the image and automation of the processes of making pictures opens up lots of different possibilities, new ways to think of photography-language relations, still and moving images, ways of dissemination. The course aims to address these new questions, but also tries to situate them in a historical and critical context. Increasingly important to this field has been the role of photography in art, which has been changing the way that art sees itself, and the theory of art in the twenty first century.

ART.ZIP: 請問攝影研究是如何同瞬息萬變的攝影產業,以及大眾文化聯繫在一起的?威斯敏斯特大學的攝影碩士專業的教學核心、課程內容和學生需求在過去五年中都發生了哪些變化?

DB: 在20世紀60年代,加拿大理論家馬歇爾·麥克盧漢(Marshal McLuhan)指出,我們正生活在一個“地球村”中。也許這個說法在今天比當時更加真實,互聯網為國際間的對話和交流帶來了巨大潛力,於此同時,它的應用及其它電子媒體的創新對攝影帶來了明顯的影響。今天我們所使用的相機便是一臺復雜的電腦,因而它作為一種工具而改變了人們對攝影以及如何拍照的想法。


ART.ZIP: What kind of students are you looking for? What should they do to prepare before entering the programme?

DB: We want students who are highly motivated – inspired – to develop their photographic practice and who have ideas, but are also interested in reading and the concepts of photography too. We, like most photography courses in the UK, expect applicants to have a portfolio of their own photographic work that shows not only their visual skills, but also coherent aim and a set of values in the use of photography. A portfolio of different types of photography (e.g. fashion, documentary, editorial work) is of less use to us than a singular project (or several small projects) that show an attempt to communicate something in depth. International applicants are competing with UK based students who have probably already completed a BA (Bachelor of Arts) course, where they have been reading photography theory and history.

Students engage primarily in ‘personal work’ although the theme of the work is not necessarily personal or private to them and usually relates to others as a social issue, question or idea about the modern world. Some of these projects may be called ‘documentary’, others may create images of things that do not exist, or use performances to generate pictures. Many of these methods were developed during the art avant-gardes in the 1920s and 1930s, but are now interpreted in many different ways, and related to new, modern contexts.

ART.ZIP: 對於攝影研究這門課程來說,您所期待的學生是什麽樣的?他們在進入這門課程之前需要做哪些準備?

DB: 我們希望看到那些對攝影有很高積極性、受其啟發並能夠發展自己攝影實踐和想法的申請人,但同時他們也要對攝影的解讀及概念深感興趣。同大多數英國攝影課程一樣,我們期待申請人能夠展示出一個不單能表現他們攝影技能,還能夠反映其攝影目的及其價值觀延續性的作品集。對於我們來說,一個混雜著如時尚、紀實或報道攝影內容的作品集並不如展現一個單獨的拍攝項目(或幾個小項目)更能傳達及展現作品的深度。同英國本地的學生相較,來自國際上的申請人應該已經擁有了學士學位,並在本科學習的過程中完成了攝影史和攝影理論的閱讀。


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