Interview with Professor David Bate
Course Leader of MA Photographic Studies
Department of Media, Arts and Design
University of Westminster
The MA in Photographic Studies programme at the University of Westminster offers a dynamic and exciting environment for studying independent practice and the critical theory of photography at a masters level. The course explores the different relationships between photographic practice and photographic theory in a flexible scheme. You will develop your practice in the context of thinking about photography as a broad social and historical phenomena in art, popular culture and global mass media.
ART.ZIP: What makes you most proud of this programme and what is unique about it?
DB: The MA Photographic Studies course already has quite a long history, and has been running since the mid 1990s. What is unique about the programme is the combination of practical work and taught photographic critical theory and history. Most MA Photography courses in the UK are by ‘project’, that is, a student agrees a topic and they pursue this through the programme as a photography project. Our students do this too, but they also develop skills in photography theory alongside their photographic work. The programme is ‘heuristic’ so that students are able to understand photography in a broader sense as a form of communication, with social and cultural implications. We explore these implications as series of issues for both the practice of, and how we think about, photography. Being able to talk and understand photography as a social form empowers students to decide for themselves about what sort of work they wish to do, rather than being trained in one or another vocational practice. This is especially important today when the very form of photographic practice and the industries that support them are undergoing so many changes.
DB: 威斯敏斯特大學的攝影學碩士課程自上世紀90年代中期開設以來，到今天已經有相當長的歷史了。這門課程最獨特的地方在于它將攝影實踐與攝影史及攝影理論的教學緊密地結合在了一起。在英國，大多數的攝影碩士課程都是由一個個“攝影項目”所組成的；也就是說，學生們在課程規定的範圍內確定一個拍攝項目並付諸實踐。當然，我們的學生也會按照這個方式去完成一個個攝影項目，但他們是在學習攝影理論的過程中去展開的。因而，我們的課程是“啟發式”的 ，這就使得學生可以從更廣意上去理解攝影,領悟這個賦含了社會和文化性的媒介。為了去實踐並懂得如何思考攝影，我們對一系列問題的含義進行了探索。學會將攝影作為一種社會形態去討論並會意，學生則被賦予了自主選擇工作方向的能力，而不是被訓練成某一種職業人。而在今天，尤其是攝影實踐及其產業不斷發生變化的情況下，這樣的“啟發式”教學則尤其重要。