4.341/4.342 Introduction to Photography and Related Media

4.341/4.342 Introduction to Photography and Related Media: Re-visualizing the Subject

Instructor: Jesal Kapadi

A photograph is a fertile site for fantasy and testimony, leaving us with enigmatic traces of prior actions, events and encounters. The obvious indication of the photographic image – that light was inscribed in an electronic or digital signal or on nitrate, as a registration of an individual or collective desire – often conceals as much as it reveals. This project-based studio course is meant to prompt critical thinking on the subject of media and photography in its capacity to conjoin aesthetics and social justice in order to bring new realities into visibility. The different imaginaries that can be traced from the time of photography’s inception (archive, scientific tool, honorific, survey) to its contemporary manifestations in the context of film, video, and conceptual art, and in the myriad and ubiquitous forms of digital ephemera, will facilitate our understanding of this process.

We will engage with photography’s multiple histories, its relevance to art, science and technology, and trace the use of the camera as a witnessing device and an “ideal” recording medium to classify and map visual evidence, or to produce reliable “objective” knowledges. Of particular focus will be photography’s deployment as an experimental and aesthetic tool in the 20th century for the purposes of disrupting and transforming the ideological field of everyday life, and its emergence as a powerful tool in locating subjective desire in the personal and political realms.

Students will build a pinhole camera, work with 35mm and medium format cameras, and digital SLR cameras and equipment. Students will receive instructions in black and white film exposure and development, darkroom techniques, digital imaging, and flash. Projects will be continuously presented and discussed in a critical forum, along with weekly lectures, readings, screenings, visiting professionals, group discussions, and a field trip to New York City. Production time outside class is essential.



  • Prereq: None
    Units: u: 3-3-6, g: units tba
    Lab Fee: 185
  • Credit: hass-arts
  • Schedule: MW 9:30-12:30
    Location: e15-054