University of Washington, Seattle-Honors Program

University of Washington, Seattle-Honors Program
Istanbul, Turkey -- Berlin, Germany
Summer 2011

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Visual Assignment plus writing assignment #1

Honors: Mobility And Negotiations of Identity

Summer 2011

Visual Assignment #1

The whole sphere of authenticity eludes technological-and of course not only technological-reproduction.

--Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Technological Reproduction”

You will remember from our Spring seminar the following words from Walter Benjamin:

Just as the entire mode o f existence o f human collectives changes over long historical periods, so too does their mode o f perception. The way in which human perception is organized-the medium in which it occurs- is conditioned not only by nature but by history. The era of the migration of peoples, an era which saw the rise of the late-Roman art industry and the Vienna Genesis, developed not only an art different from that of antiquity but also a different perception.

The final sentences of this provocative quote from Benjamin—that the era of the migration of people produced a new regime of perception—couldn’t be more apt for our class on mobility and the negotiation of identity. For this assignment, you will be working with visual representation in order to historicize and engage our moment of perception in this period of modern globalization. As you will remember from our class, how we see in many ways defines what we see. In our time, with the universal spread of technological reproduction—the photographic image-- and the development of mass society— the rise of modern urban life—we see with the desire to denude the world of its shock, its differences, its otherness, that which prevents us from believing that all experiences are available and consumable to us.

For this assignment, you will be asked to post 7 images.

1) The first image is one that “shows” the camera’s power to make the different, the shock, the other an object available for your “experience.” This is an image that implicates you as an “outsider” in your use of technology to handle the new and the excess of sensations that comes with being in a new world such as Istanbul. Boredom and sleepiness are other ways that we deal with this excess of sensation or “shock.”

2) The second image is one that conveys for you a difference or otherness in the buildt environment or social spaces of Istanbul that in some way has surprised or shocked you. This image does not try to control the shock but instead to focus on it, to try to linger on this shock.

3) The third image should be one that you think helps you convey the “limit” or the violene of the camera. That is, this image is one that is important to you because it somehow comments on the technology that you use to capture this image.

4) The fourth image engages the politics of photography in the non-western world. Historically the camera has been seen as offering Westerners the truth of the Orient. The camera is used less as an apparatus of art than it has been used as an apparatus of scientific truth when picturing the non-west. To counter this it is important to think of images or shots that for you either undo the west/non-west binary in some way or that pushes the image away from being scientific document and toward being more of an artistic composition. As an artistic composition the image is valuable because it demands interpretation. Can you come up with an image in the city that for you is so complex that it demands interpretation?

5) The fifth picture should convey your struggle to capture deeply personal memory through an image. Is there an image that you have or could take that is meaningful to you because it evokes personal memory? How do you take that picture without loosing its quality as a memory?

6) The sixth and seventh images are related to our three lectures by Jen, Orhan, and Didem. Can you take two pictures in the city/of the city that you think conveys or aids in conveying what you have taken away from these first three lectures. What in the lectures was most rich and meaningful to you. What was the take away for you? Power and inequality? Cities and their complex relation to nations? Modernity and its demand for homogeneous citizens? States and the way they hide their violence through what a citizen sees and remembers (ie, gentrification).

Upload all images and label as you think fit. Due Date Wed, July 6 (beginning of class)

Related Blog Posting:

For the last two images we would like you to provide a short blog entry (500-900 words) that describes what you’ve been thinking about while in Istanbul, especially after our three lectures/tours. Use the blog space to tell a reader why you chose the images you took, how they relate to the theme of our study and how they express your interests. Tell a reader how the images are expressive of the connections you’re making between being in Istanbul, thinking about migration and identity, and learning about the history of cities, states and communities.

DUE DATE FOR THIS ASSIGNMENT: Wednesday, July 6 (beginning of class)

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