In the photograph, the event is never transcended for the sake of something else: the photograph always leads the corpus I need back to the body I see; it is the absolute.
— Roland Barthes
Perceptual differences in methodology have historically kept the sciences apart from artistic practice. Artists and scientists who inquire self-reflexively: How am I observing? and What is doing the observing? probe the edges of 17th century, Cartesian boundaries. To transform empirically limited methodologies in a conscious, humanistic way requires our asking biological, experiential questions such as — What is the Tri-Cameral-Brain doing? What stage of evolutionary processes are we phylogentically responsive to?— in order to discern more precisely the purpose and potential of our creativity.
In Looking at Photographs, John Szarkowski, defined photography as “a family of processes united by the fact that they produce images through natural energies." While science photography makes visible skeletal, cellular, and microscopic structures of the body through technological processes, in Art, the medium is more than mechanical apparatus. In Art, camera and lens are employed as an extension of the body’s ability to see and preserve memories. Creating images that resonate with human experience therefore requires coming in touch with physical, emotional and intellectual energies.
EMBODIED CAMERA investigates the original human camera, the Triune Brain. It relates human perceiving and receiving as one complete perception. It allows for a wide range of syntactical and technological devices to be employed with the purpose of visually expressing conceptual notions or scientific discoveries. Select readings illuminate how verbal and visual interplay between subject and object in various forms of construction has continued to evolve since photography’s invention.
We’ll view contemporary projects by artists whose intuitions are artistically bound by experiential forms of observation, embodiment, and containment in contrast to the blind hegemony of ocular vision, which “progress” in technology commands. We will also become familiar with contemporary imaging technologies (ie: X-ray, MRI, CT scanning and other technological devices) used in medical practice for examination of the body. To develop a corporeal (visual/sensory) feeling of the body students will maintain a lab journal for noting personal observations and drafting project ideas. By juxtaposing body and camera, a position between the physical body (experiential practice) and mind (scanning of systems and theories) will consciously negotiated and expressed.
This is a project-based interdisciplinary course where informed research manifests into a chosen form of visual media. Selections from the course reader support short exercises. Documentation of experiential praxis in relation to material processes is encouraged. Journal sketches are to reflect findings—as a scientist or technician might record laboratory notes. Final project topics will morph directly from studio practice, thoughts collected in journal entries, short readings and a research essay.
Embodied Camera was first offered as an Transdisciplinary seminar at the san francisco art institute © 2003