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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - bologna.lab - Neue Lehre. Neues Lernen

Lens on Berlin: Making Visual Culture in the City

Taught by Christopher Shore

Starts 19.10. / Wednesday, 10:00 - 12:00, Hausvogteiplatz 5-7, Room 0323-26

Language requirements: min. English B2



Course Description

What does it mean to look rather than to see, to think critically while imagining your eyes as cameras? How do we make sense of the daily cavalcade of visual imagery we experience and how can we begin to distinguish a work of art from a can of soup? Against the vibrant backdrop of Berlin and the German photographic tradition, this course aims to help students do just that by empowering them to go out and make images, and to study the photographs others have made. Because our visual culture is dominated by the image, we will look at the photographic image and its role in German history, with an emphasis on Berlin. While you will learn a great deal about photography, (creating plenty of images in the process), this is not a photography class, and your telephone camera is sufficient for our work.

Drawing on the rich resources of the Berlin arts scene and its institutions and archives, students will be expected to learn outside the classroom and independently as well as in groups and as a class. While you will learn about the wealth of photographic practices in Germany beginning at the turn of the century and carrying forward to the present, it is important to study fundamental aspects of visual culture and criticism in order to better understand and discuss the visual culture of Berlin. This course uses a less orthodox, plastic approach to intensive study. We will combine field trips with hands-on experiments and web-based technologies to expand students’ abilities to look rather than just see, to shape opinions critically, and to develop academic confidence while engaging in provocative local subject matter.

Assignments will include reading homework, formal and informal writing and presentations, group fieldwork, and a final multimedia research project. Gaining a firm grasp of the theoretical frameworks of visual culture studies and cultural criticism and how photographs are constructed and read will be central to the first part of the course. Selected readings will consist of extracts from theorists Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright, John Berger and photographer Stephen Shore. All of this will be supplemented by articles from academic journals, and students will have access to read further and deeper on the topics engaged in this class. The second part of the semester will consist more of fieldwork and final projects including digital slideshows or photomontage project, greater online participation, and other multimedia modalities. A basic understanding of photography and visual culture are the tools this class will need to study the city of Berlin -the true subject of this class!