Course Title:  01:082:253  Contemporary Photography

Academic Credits:  3 credits

Mode of Instruction:  Lecture

Course Prerequisites and Corequisites:  None

Core Curriculum:  AHp, WCr or WCd

Course Description:

Explores a broad range of contemporary photographs from around the world and asks what typifies the medium's everyday popularity and changing aesthetic practices.

Not long ago I asked Anthony Aziz why he and his partner Sammy Cucher had abandoned their famous photography practice for—of all things—carpet design. His answer was simple: “Everything in photography has already been done.” The advent of digital technologies, he clarified, may have extended photography’s life, but the medium’s contemporary art practice particularly in the realm of art is dead. Could Aziz be right? Over the last two decades, photography has managed to do two things: saturate our everyday lives far more than before and become a fully recognized art form. For better or worse, it can be produced almost cost-free on any cell phone to share with friends, while it has also entered galleries, museums, libraries and private collections as a highly valuable object. Distinguishing these two sorts of photography is the expectation that an everyday photo documents something seen and that a quality print bears the personal expression and creativity of its maker. The medium, therefore, seems to have been cleaved more than ever before by “vernacular” and fine art practices that do not necessarily speak with each other. Could Anthony Aziz be correct in asserting that contemporary photography has become exhausted in the process? Our course will explore a broad range of prints and digital records, including pictures now hanging in commercial galleries. We will ask what typifies the practice and popularity of photography today, and if the these two realms of photography may in fact be communicating and enlivening each other after all. This course will correspondingly explore a broad range of contemporary photographs from around the world and ask what typifies the medium’s aesthetic practice and everyday popularity. Can inventive new trends be identified or is photography forever replaying its history in new technical clothing?  What does it mean to create, interpret, collect, catalogue, exhibit, and publish photographic images in the last twenty years? What questions can we ask about contemporary photography as an art, science, technology, social practice, communications medium, and cultural discourse? With these questions in mind, we will pay particular attention to the impact of digital technologies on the medium. How has Photoshop, for example, changed our expectations about Lorreta Lux, The Drummer. c. 2003. 2 a photograph’s relationship to the reality it generally purports to represent? Has the radical democratization of photography through cell phone cameras and Facebook contributed to new aesthetic and cultural trends such as citizen journalism and photo-bombs? Among other things, we will explore our personal use of photographs to seek answers for such questions.

Learning Goals:

Not Available

Required and Recommended Course Materials:

Not Available


Professor Andrés Zervigón

Disclaimer:  These course descriptions/synopses pages have been provided as samples and the information should not be considered accurate or current.  For actual course information, refer to the course site hosted by a Rutgers Learning Management System (Sakai, Canvas, etc.) as of first day of class.