Congrats and Happy New Years!

Victorian New Year CardIf you have not noticed, your grades have been uploaded to Blackboard, as well as CUNYFirst. Your group presentations have also been uploaded on the same page as your egg poetry. Thank you all for a wonderful semester and I wish you a relaxing winter break and Happy New Years!

Here is the grade scale from CityTech’s student handbook:

A 93-100

A- 90-92.9

B+ 87-89.9

B 83-86.9

B- 80-82.9

C+ 77-79.9

C 70-76.9

D 60-69.9

F 59 and below

Week 12: Hands Up, Don’t Shoot: Photographs from #Ferguson

Scott Olson, Gabrielle Walker, 5, protests the killing of Michael Brown, August 17, 2014

Scott Olson, Gabrielle Walker, 5, protests the killing of Michael Brown on August 17, 2014

Last week, we studied Robert Frank’s photographs for his groundbreaking publication, The Americans and next week, we will examine several iconic photographs related to the Vietnam War. These two lessons highlight the important issues of race and protest in American history, concerns that are on the mind of many today and on the forefront of current national news. Scott Olson, a photographer for Getty Images, captured some of the most poignant photographs of the protests that erupted after the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, MO. The phrase “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” and the gesture of raising one’s arms in protest have emerged as rallying cries that imitate Michael Brown’s gesture before he was shot by the police officer Darren Wilson, who was not indicted for his actions by a grand jury. This controversial ruling, and this week’s ruling on the death of Eric Garner have inspired a new wave of protests across the nation, including last weekend’s football game on national TV. Hashtags for #Ferguson, #HandsUpDontShoot, #ICantBreath have proliferated across social media. For this Discussion Topic, I would like you to read Scott Olson’s reflections about the photographs he took during the early days of the Ferguson protests, and consider them against the history of Frank’s photographs and the infamous image taken at Kent State by John Filo.

Read about Scott Ferguson’s photographs from Ferguson here.

Please submit your posts by Monday, December 15th.

Announcement: Short List for Final Exam, Terminology, and Blogging

Andre Kertesz, Clock of the Academie Francaise, 1932

Andre Kertesz, Clock of the Academie Francaise, 1932

The Final Exam is Monday 12/22 at 11:30 AM.  The short list for the Final Exam is now posted online under “Slidelists” in the Class Files area. The format for the final exam is the same as the midterm, look at the exam format under Class Files too. The terminology for Part IV includes the following terms.

Terminology: define 3 terms, 5 points each. Choose only 3 terms to discuss. I will list the following 6 art/photographic movements:

Group f.64
Social Landscape
New Topographics
Pictures Generation

Write a few complete sentences defining the movement and give an example.

I am posting the last Discussion Topic as Week 12. Rather than 15 posts for the blog grade, I will only count the 12 topics uploaded to date.  Don’t forget the last day to submit your blog posts, late work, or extra credit is Monday December 15th.

Week 11: The New American Dustbowl: Documenting California’s Drought

Matt Black tractor tills dry land near Tulare Lake basin

Matt Black, Tractor tills dry land near Tulare Lake basin, California

Recently we looked at photographs from the era of the Great Depression and the work of FSA photographers such as Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans. The images illustrated how drought and wind storms transformed the Great Plains into the Dust Bowl. For the past several years, California has been experiencing bad drought conditions. Access to water has been drastically cut to California’s Central Valley, a main location of farms that provide Americans with fruit, vegetables and nuts. The documentary photographer Matt Black has documented the lives of farmers and the conditions of modern-day farms. Read a short article from The New Yorker and look through the photographs, then watch a short video that features interviews and Matt Black’s photographs. What do you think of these photographs in comparison to FSA photography? Why do you think so few Americans are aware of drought conditions in California and the impact on our agricultural supply?

Read The New Yorker article “The Dry Land” here

California: Paradise Burning video

Please submit your posts by Monday, December 15th. 

Week 10 Discussion Topic: Robert Capa and the Greatest War Photograph

Robert Capa, Death of a Loyalist Soldier, 1936, published in Life Magazine, 1937

Robert Capa, Death of a Loyalist Soldier, 1936, published in Life Magazine, 1937

Robert Capa, Death of a Loyalist Soldier, 1936, published in Life Magazine 1937
At the age of 23, Robert Capa took a photograph that many have labeled the greatest war photograph of all time. Taken during the Spanish Civil War, the renown of Capa’s photograph, Falling Soldier or Death of a Loyalist Soldier, reverberated around the world as it was published and republished in contemporary news magazines. However, Capa’s photo has been shadowed by controversy, including accusations of fakery. Read an analysis on the image by Capa’s biographer, Robert Whelan, on the authenticity of the photograph. Do you find his arguments convincing? Do you think Capa’s photograph is staged or not? And do you think its authenticity matters?

Robert Whelan’s discussion of Capa’s photograph

Please submit your posts by Monday, December 15th.

Announcement: Presentations, Blogging and One More Exhibit Option


Andre Kertesz, The Fork, 1928

Andre Kertesz, The Fork, 1928

We will meet outside the Janet Lefler Dining Room on the 2nd floor of Namm at 11:30 am on Monday 11/17. Each group will have an opportunity to upload their PowerPoint presentations to my computer before we head into lunch in the dining room. I’ll also use the time to take attendance. We are expected to be ready to be seated in the dining room by 11:50 am. A reminder there is a dress code for the dining room and they request attire appropriate to business meetings, therefore no jeans, no sweats, no sneakers, no hats. You can leave your things in your lockers or check them in the coat check outside the dining room. Please don’t forget that the dining room is a classroom too, therefore be encouraging and respectful of your fellow HGMT majors as they work the dining room for our enjoyment.

A reminder about the group project. Your group projects’s PowerPoint presentation should feature photographs taken by you, not images taken by someone else. I’m excited to see your ‘egg’ photos! Each group will present for only 5 minutes (I’ll set a timer) right after lunch in Namm 206.

A note about Writing Assignment #2. I have added one more exhibition to the list of possible shows to visit for Writing Assignment #2. After visiting the Met last weekend, I realized the Thomas Struth exhibition is a good, small show to review. Please see the revised PDF for Writing Assignment #2 under Assignments. Don’t forget to keep your museum entry stub/ticket or take a brochure from the exhibit to be turned in with your paper. This paper is due Monday, December 1st.

Looking forward to seeing everyone in the dining room for Monday’s class!

Week 9 Discussion Topic: Rock Star Food Behind the Scenes

Henry Hargreaves, Rihanna’s backstage request for “hard-boiled eggs, turkey bacon, turkey sausage, at any time through out the day” from

Henry Hargreaves, Rihanna’s backstage request for “hard-boiled eggs, turkey bacon, turkey sausage, at any time through out the day” from

As you prepare your “egg photos” for your upcoming presentations, I thought you would like to share your thoughts on these still life photographs of unusual requests made by musicians when they go on tour. When musicians perform at major concerts, their contracts include riders that outline what they need to have backstage. These riders often feature requests for food such as Lady Gaga’s request for a “small plate of cheese (nonsmelly, nonsweaty), on ice.” The photographer Henry Hargreaves with the help of a stylist produced photographs in the style of Flemish still life painting, a genre that emerged in the seventeenth-century Netherlands. The photographs are stylish and give viewers a peek into the personalities (and quirks!) of different musicians. Read the article on Hargreaves’ Band Riders photo series and share what you think of his pictures.

Read about Henry Hargreaves “Band Riders” photo series here.

You can see the entire “Band Riders” series on the photographer’s website (he has also photographed ‘deep-fried’ gadgets like iPads).

Please submit your posts by Monday, December 15th. 

Announcement: Blogging Guidelines, Midterm Grades, and Extra Credit Options

extra credit signThanks to all who have been blogging regularly and since we’re going into the last half of the semester I’ve decided to make a change to the submission process for our Discussion Topics. As of this week (Week 8), you will have a long deadline due date and be able to submit your posts up until Monday December 14 (our last lecture meeting before Finals). However, at this point in the semester please do not submit posts for earlier Discussion Topics (Weeks 1-7) because you will not receive credit for them.

By now you may have noticed that your mid-semester grades are posted. If you have any questions, please email me at Please keep checking the grade center on Blackboard for updates on the grades for your papers, all paper grades will be up by the end of the week.

Because of financial aid considerations, withdrawing from a class is not recommended. However, if you are contemplating withdrawing, please be advised that the last day to withdraw without penalty is Thursday, Nov. 6. This is the last day to withdraw with a W grade.

A reminder, mid-semester grades are:
P=Passing work
*BL= Borderline
SA=Stopped Attending

*If you received a BL, it is likely that you are having problems with your attendance, didn’t do so well on the midterm, or missing the paper assignment and have done no blogging.. Having said that, it is in your best interest to participate fully on the class blog because it is worth 15% of your grade. What is 15%? It’s worth more than one letter grade on the grade scale, meaning if you’re averaging a C in the course, weekly participation on the discussion board can pull you up into the B/B+ range. Therefore, please participate and use the blogging to your advantage.

I have also posted the Extra Credit Assignments. There are 6 options and they are optional, you can submit one extra credit, do all the options or do none, it is up to you. You will find the extra credit under assignments.

The discussion board for Week 8 is:

Extra Credit assignments:


Week 8 Discussion Topic: Photography and Special Effects in Early Film

Georges Méliès, A Trip to the Moon, 1902

Georges Méliès released the first science fiction film A Trip to the Moon (Le voyage dans la lune) in 1902. The filmmaker spared no expense for special effects and is regarded as the “father of special effects.” Some of you may have seen Martin Scorsese’s Hugo (2011), which features Méliès, who really went bankrupt in old age and eked out a living selling candy and toys in the Montparnasse station in Paris. Review his short film and consider the following questions. Do any aspects of the film recall the practices of early photography? What are some differences and similarities between the photographic camera and the film camera?

There are many copies on the web of various degrees of quality (you can even find copies of a recently restored hand-colored version). The quality of the following version on YouTube is very good.

Georges Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon

If you are interested, you can watch a clip from Scorsese’s Hugo here. The music video for Tonight, Tonight by the Smashing Pumpkins is an homage to Méliès, watch it here.

Please submit your posts by Monday, December 15th.