Monday, the video lecture series, “Experimenting with Images: How the Visual Shapes Our World,” started with the conference, “About the topic: what we Photograph Matters”, presented by the artist and assistant professor at Columbia College Chicago Cecil McDonald Jr.
McDonald’s is a artist whose photographs explore how masculinity, family relationships and black culture to cut, as well as how they are explored intellectually and artistically.
“i am a color artist [and] identify as a Black of man“, said McDonald. “So, by extension, my work is often loaded with political representation, meaning representation that I give it, but often more likely representation that other people give it.”
“On the Matter of Subject: What We Photograph Matters” is the first of six lectures in a series of video lectures that explore engagement with photography. The lecture series was Organized by second year visual cultural graduo student Holly Filsinger.
“[Conversations about] this idea of photographs, how [photographers] function in society, how the photographs go beyond our intention and what we thought they were going to be“, said McDonald. “There is the intention and then there is the effect of this intention.”
In his conferenceMcDonald’s focused on the power of photographs and the responsibility of photographygraphic designer. He shared these ideas through conversations about the impact of photographs taken by himself and other artists.
mcdonalds shared and discussed photography by artists Taryn Simons and Ansel Adams. He specifically looked at Simons “The Innocents” and Adams’ series “Photographs of the Japanese-American internment at Manzanar.”
Simulatortos‘, ‘The Innocents’, are portraits of innocent men who were wrongfully convicted and served their sentences jail. She photographed these men in places that lead to their wrongful conviction like the crime scene, alibi scene, arrest scene, or scene where they were misidentified as the perpetrator.
Often, forms of photography are used at incriminate crime suspects Like line ups, mugshots and composite sketches. McDonald talked about the contrast between these visual means of identifying suspects and The portraits Simons got it wrong convicted men.
“Tit’s really a wonderful kind of circular meta thing where photography, in this case, is used as an investigative tool to examine photographic practice“McDonalds; noted.
“I like this. She took the tool photography or tool cameras pointing at the problem aAnd in the state where the camera in the photo is looking at us, we think that’s a really interesting situation to find yourself in especially as a photographer.”
McDonald also shared photographs taken by Adams of his collection of “Photographs of Japanese-American Internment at Manzanar.” With these photographs, McDonald discussed the importance of taking honest photography.
“the the camera is also a symbol of instrumental power“, said McDonald. “And so, when you point this to someone or something that does not share the same power structure with you, I think people will, naturally if they feel helpless, will surrender to you [and] will open up to you.”
In the second half of his talk, McDonald shared some of the his own photograph that he had never before gave lectures. These photographs were The portraits which McDonald’s was instructed to take by Not silent, a group of women called “The Sisterhood” whose sons were killed because of armed violence.
Originally McDonald’s refused to take the portraits but after being invited by Unsilenced many times, he finally agreed to do the portraits.
While making the portraits, mcdonalds goyou know women of the sorority he photographsabout their sons who were killed and how they experienced their grief. McDonald spoke about the process of photographing these women in a way that was true to their stories, but also incorporated his own artistic touch.
“I embraced the role of their followers, the tellers of their stories“McDonald said. “My hand is still there because I am an artist. Why have me here if I’m not going to get my hands on it? Corn [the women] would like lead me. I’m going to let them take over and kind of guide me through what our journey would end up being.”
Throughout the conference, McDonald stressed the importance of using photography not only as an art of, but a way of documenting truth and history. He stressed the importance of have meaningful intentions behind taking a photo and encourage everyone to document their stories through photography.
“Wwhat I see is that more and more people are teaching communities how to do pictures in their own stories“McDonald said. “This is the crucial point of this one. You have to install cameras, recorders, video cameras in the communities and let them tell their stories. And I think we’re starting to see more of it isyou event.”