Undergraduate Seminar: PHOTOGRAPHY, PAINT, COLOR: when photographic prints were painted and handcolored
Taking each of these words as our subject we will initially think about them separately and then focus on the pervasive but neglected practice of hand-coloring photographs. Emphasizing amateur, not professional, practices, this seminar will explore my extensive collection of strange, delightful, weird, humble, yet sometimes unforgettable painted photographs, primarily from the U.S., including many of African Americans, as well as Europe and Russia, and fewer from China, Egypt, and South America., among other places. We will interrogate how racial difference was challenged and complicated by the addition of color to black and white photographs that long mistranslated colors (turning yellow and red into black, for example).
To quote the syllabus of a graduate seminar called “HAND-MADE: when photographic prints were manipulated,” co-taught by Aglaya Glebova and myself in the Fall of 2021, this seminar resurrects and examines an overlooked practice: “In our digital age, photographs come into existence with one touch of a finger and disappear just as easily. Yet for most of its history, photography required extensive manipulation—in the sense of handling—to materialize. While professional photographers determined the appearance of black and white photographs in the studio and dark room, we are looking at the many irreverent manipulations of extant photographs, often by amateurs. Before photoshop, photographic prints and films were painted-over, hand-colored, cut-up, cropped and reassembled by hands, often by hands that were not “trained.” Many such manipulations spoke to desire and fantasy and subordinated indexicality even while selectively relying on it.”
This course fulfills the following Major requirements: Geographical area (E) and Chronological period (III).