Slide

Interview with Professor David Bate
大衛·貝特教授專訪

Interview with Professor David Bate
Course Leader of MA Photographic Studies
Department of Media, Arts and Design
University of Westminster
威斯敏斯特大學媒體、藝術與設計學院 攝影學碩士課程主任
大衛·貝特教授專訪

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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.

威斯敏斯特大學的攝影學碩士課程為追求獨立實踐以及攝影批評理論的學生們提供了一個充滿活力的學習環境。該課程旨以靈活的方式去探討攝影實踐和理論之間的關係,學生能夠在藝術、大眾文化以及全球大眾媒體的廣泛社會和歷史現象的角度來思考攝影,並提高其實踐的能力。


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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.

ART.ZIP: 這門課程最讓您驕傲的地方在哪?它有哪些獨特之處呢?

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。

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ART.ZIP: I have to admit that the concept of studying photography in China still limits it to its techniques and commercial functions. Can you tell us what are the key concepts of photographic studies and what is the importance of understanding photography history and theory?

DB: Photographs are a crucial component in the way a society sees itself. The complex technological origins of photography in chemistry, optics (mathematics) and image composition has meant that teaching photography has inherited a rather technical orientation. Yet today it is possible to be a photographer with very little technical knowledge, or even none at all!

Automated cameras replace many of the skills that were taught before. Certainly, teaching the electronic components of photography are important as ‘how’ photographs are made, but the other important questions are ‘what’ pictures you make and ‘why’? What are they for, what is their purpose? This is not a purely technical question.

Most amateur photography is still governed by nineteenth century ideas of ‘good composition’. These ideas in photography, were first developed through reference to theories of European ‘pictorial’ painting, and worked out in Pictorialism, the first global movement of art photography. These ideas spread across the world from Europe and the USA in the late nineteenth century, along with the technology of photography. From this brief excursion into history, you can see that the history of photography as a history of ideas about photography is surely important.

These questions about what the photographs are being made for (and why) relate to this wider historical and cultural environment of photography, the history of ideas about photography, notably realism (journalism and documentary), of persuasion (advertising and propaganda) and all of these along with ‘personal expression’ in art. If education is to mean anything it is to develop a knowledge and understanding of the forms of practice that a student may encounter in day-to-day life. These practices form a general context for students to consider their work. By understanding the context, they can understand better how to act in it or even against it. Photographs appear within specific contexts, the family, the state, the media, the street, via different cultural institutions or even across all of these. These ‘contexts’ have an important relation, both in terms of the types of meaning given to photographs by them, but also in the image-language relations. Surely, to understand how photography is enmeshed in these different uses and functions, along with their histories, is a crucial part of photography education.

Theory is distinct from criticism. Theory attempts to identify structural features, whereas criticism is primarily evaluative, often personal and emotive rather than analytical. In this sense the general aim of theory is to establish how ‘meaning’ is communicated (or not) with photography and in particular how specific types of meaning are circulated by photography.

ART.ZIP: 我們不得不承認,中國攝影學習的理念仍然局限在其技術和商業的用途之上,您能告訴我們學習攝影理論的關鍵是什麽?同時,學習攝影史和攝影理論的重要性又在哪裡?

DB: 照片是一個社會自我認知方式的重要組成部分。攝影自發明起便涉及了化學、光學(數學)和圖像組成上的復雜技術,這就意味著攝影教學在一定程度上傳承了這一技術方向的討論。然而,如今人們並不需要很多的攝影技術知識便能成為一個攝影師,即便一無所知也沒有關係。

全自動相機的使用取代了過去攝影教育中代代相傳的技能培訓,當然,教授給學生有關相機電子元件的知識與教會他們“如何”拍攝照片同樣重要,但另一個關鍵的問題則是:你要拍“什麽樣”的照片?“為什麽”要拍?它們的用途是什麽,拍它們的目的又是什麽?而這些都再不是單純的技術問題了。

當下,大多數業余攝影愛好者的觀念都受到十九世紀“好構圖”標準的制約。這些攝影的想法最早是從歐洲畫意風格的理論中發展而來的,接著便在“畫意攝影”這個全世界第一次藝術攝影風潮中得到完善。這些思想隨著攝影技術的進步在十九世紀末期從歐洲和美國開始遍布世界。從這個簡短的歷史回顧中你可以看到,攝影理念的歷史作為攝影史的一部分亦為重要。

這些問題也揭示了照片制作的目的和原因,這都涉及到更廣泛的攝影歷史和文化語境之間的關係;以及攝影觀念的歷史。比如說代表現實主義的新聞和紀實攝影,或者是具有說服功能的廣告和宣傳攝影,以及伴隨其中作為攝影藝術的“個人表達”。

攝影教育的意義在於幫助學生在增長知識的同時,教會他們去理解日常生活中所遇到的不同形式的實踐。這些實踐形式最終組成了一個整體的語境,在學生考慮未來可能應用到某種實踐,或者當我們要求學生“你必須這樣去做”的時候提供更多的幫助。通過了解語境,學生可以更好地理解如何去利用它,或者是反對它。

照片產生在具體的語境中,比如說家庭、國家、媒體、街道、或者各種文化機構,甚至交叉在各種語境當中。這些“語境”之間都有重要的聯繫,不但在於它們所賦予攝影的意義類型,同時還包括圖像語言之間的關聯。當然,要了解攝影是如何發揮這些不同的用途和功能,以及了解這些相關語境的歷史都是攝影教育的重要組成部分。

攝影理論與攝影批評是截然不同的。理論試圖定義結構特點,而批評則主要是評價性的,相對於前者的分析性來說,攝影批判往往同個人和情感有關。從這個意義上說,學習攝影理論的目的在於確定攝影是如何同“含義”聯繫(或沒有)在一起的,特別是那些由攝影所傳播的具體類型的含義。

 

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。

從這個意義來說,攝影的觀念發生了很大的改變,人們因此能夠很快地將相機屏幕上的照片轉移到電腦上。人們可以不假思索地完成一切拍攝過程。圖像的靈活性以及拍攝照片過程的自動化為攝影開辟了很多不同的可能性,同時也帶來了人們對攝影語言關係、靜動態圖像以及其傳播途徑的全新思考。我們的課程旨在解決這些新的問題,也試圖將它們放在歷史及批評語境中去討論。另外,攝影在當代藝術中所扮演的角色也愈加重要,它改變了藝術審視自身的方式,以及二十一世紀攝影理論的發展進程。

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。

對於那些主要拍攝“個人作品”的學生來說,即便他們的作品不一定是關於個人或私人的題材,但通常都與需要與社會問題、現代世界中的議題和概念有關。或許我們可以把這其中的一部分稱作“紀實”攝影,但另一部分則可以是創造出並不存在的圖像,或者是通過各種方式將照片收集起來。許多這些方法都在20世紀20年代和30年代前衛藝術的浪潮中發展起來,但現在卻在現代語境下被賦予了不同的解釋。

 

ART.ZIP: The University of Westminster has a long history in delivering high standards in photography education, what kind of support can your students expect during the one year course – in terms of photography facilities, research, tutoring and so on?

DB: Students have access to tutors, technical workshops, studios, analogue darkrooms, electronic darkrooms, printing facilities and exhibition spaces. We are proud of the history of innovation in photography education that the university has, as you say, long been associated with. Most of the tutors teaching on the course are involved in their own practice, whether this is photography or writing (or in my case both). Research is important to the university; many of our graduates go on to do further research on photography, whether as PhD students, in art gallery work and curating, etc.

ART.ZIP: 威斯敏斯特大學一直以來都以高質量攝影教育聞名於世,那麽就攝影和研究設施、輔導等方面來說,學生們能在這一年的學習中獲得哪些幫助?

DB: 學生在得到老師的輔導的同時還可以利用學校所提供的工作室、影棚、傳統暗房、數碼工作室、印刷設施和展覽空間。我們一直以威斯敏斯特大學在攝影教育史上創新而感到自豪。大多數的教師在教學過程中都同時進行著自己的項目,或攝影或攝影寫作(對我來說,這兩種都有)。學術研究對於一個大學來說尤為重要;我們的許多學生畢業后繼續做對攝影進一步的研究,無論是作為博士研究生、還是在美術館工作或從事策展等。

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ART.ZIP: What are the teaching methods and approaches specially designed for this programme?

DB: The course uses different learning and teaching strategies, from formal lectures to seminars, individual and group tutorials, workshops, symposia and exhibition work. We are also increasingly using interactive tools on the Internet. Understanding how to use information and evaluate it as knowledge for research on the Internet is a key modern issue.

ART.ZIP: Can you tell us something about the major project? How it will be presented as a final body of work? And what are the grading criteria for a masters level student?

DB: The Major Project is the culmination of the masters degree, with an exhibition in a public gallery. The students share a gallery space, like a group art show, but each has their own separate area for their photographic work. Each person exhibits their body of photographic work in whatever form is appropriate (wall display, screen, book, etc.). The students usually organise additional events around the exhibition too, and the whole event works to show what work the students have been doing, which has been developed by them throughout the course.

ART.ZIP: What do you expect your students to learn and gain from this programme when they graduate from the course? Can you give some suggestions for students who want to learn Photography in UK as a whole?

DB: Students from the MA Photographic Studies go on to a number of careers: as artists and photographers, as well as related career paths in photo editing, media experts and industry specialists, curators, researchers, writers, critics and teachers. British education system thrives on a system where students are in dialogue with tutors, rather than simply being told what to do. The old academy system where masters inducted students into their way of thinking can still be found, but a more modern approach is much more common, which asks students to think what they are doing, to talk about what they are doing and why, and what they are trying to achieve. This approach has helped to create an autonomous environment, where students engage in conversation and debate about ideas and practices, ideas and interests.

ART.ZIP: 這門課程有哪些特別的授課方式?

DB: 我們的課程采用不同的教學策略,從正式的講座、研討會;到個人和小組討論、工作坊;再到專題討論會和展覽。我們也越來越多地開始使用互聯網上的互動工具。在我們看來,學會如何在互聯網上使用信息並將它看作是研究技能則是現代化的一個關鍵問題。

ART.ZIP: 您能同我們分享一下畢業創作的大致內容嗎? 學生們將如何呈現他們的畢業作品? 對於碩士畢業生的評價標準又是什麽?

DB: 畢業創作是學生取得碩士學位的最關鍵部分,通常最後會以畫廊的展覽作為展現方式。和群展的概念一樣,學生們共用一個畫廊空間並在獨立的空間內展示自己的攝影作品。每個人展示的攝影作品可以以任何合理的形式出現,比如說傳統的墻上展覽,電腦屏幕放映或是攝影冊等。學生們通常還會圍繞著展覽組織額外的活動,但是這些活動都向觀眾呈現他們在整個課程學習過程中的實踐。

ART.ZIP: 你期待學生在完成這門課程時能從其中學到哪些?請您給那些想來英國讀攝影的學生一些建議?

DB: 從攝影學碩士畢業的學生投身到不同的攝影行業裡去:有些成為藝術家和攝影師;有些成為圖像編輯、媒體專家和行業專家;另外一些人則選擇去做策展人、攝影學者、作家、評論家和教師。

英國蓬勃的教育體系依賴於它的一個特殊制度,這便是讓學生與教師們進行溝通,而不是簡單地被告知該怎麽做。雖然我們還能在一些守舊的學術體系中發現老師用自己的思維方式將知識灌輸給學生。相比較而言,新式的教學方法更為常見,教師要求學生去思考自己在做什麽;討論他們在做什麽;為什麽這樣做;並如何去實現。這種教學方法有助於創建一個自主的學習環境,讓學生針對自己想法、興趣和實踐進行交流和辯論。

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About David Bate:
關於大衛·貝特

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David Bate is a photographic artist and writer. He studied at Portsmouth College of Art before going on to do the famous BA Honours Film and Photographic Arts course at the Polytechnic of Central London (PCL). After working as a photographer and tutor in London, he took the MA in Social History of Art at the University of Leeds, also completing a PhD there with Griselda Pollock during the 1990s.

David was one of the first UK photographic artists to experiment with digital photography. His work has travelled widely. Most recently he was artist-in-residence in Melbourne, Australia where he shot his new work, about globalisation called Australian Picnic. His writings include the books Photography and Surrealism and Photography: Key Concepts. A founder member of the artist-run gallery Accident, later re-named as Five Years, he also co-curated several shows there. As an influential teacher, he has taught and was the course leader of the famous British Social Documentary Photography programme at Surrey Institute of Art (now University of the Creative Arts) at Farnham. He later moved to the University of Westminster, where he currently leads photography research including doctoral candidates and the MA Photographic Studies programme.

大衛是一位攝影藝術家和作家。他早先就讀於樸茨茅斯藝術學院(Portsmouth College of Art),隨後在倫敦中心理工學院(Polytechnic of Central London)獲得電影和攝影藝術課程的榮譽學士學位。在倫敦作為攝影師和導師之後,大衛又獲得利茲大學(University of Leeds)藝術社會史的碩士學位。他在上世紀九十年代同知名藝術史學者格瑞瑟達·波洛克(Griselda Pollock)一同完成了博士階段的學習。

大衛是英國攝影史上最先嘗試數碼攝影的藝術家之一,他的作品曾在全世界各地展出。他最近完成了澳大利亞墨爾本的藝術家駐場計劃,並完成了一套有關“全球化”的新作——《澳大利亞野餐(Australian Picnic)》。大衛·貝特的著作有《攝影與超現實主義(Photography and Surrealism)》及《攝影:核心概念(Photography: Key Concepts)》。是“意外(Accident)”畫廊合夥人和創立者之一,大衛在這裡參與了很多策展活動。而作為一名相當有影響力的老師,大衛曾在著名的薩裡藝術學院(Surrey Institute of Art,現為英國創意藝術大學University of the Creative Arts)教授社會紀實攝影的課程。隨後大衛返回倫敦,在威斯敏斯特大學負責攝影學碩士課程並擔任博士生導師。

 

             

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