LC: In terms of the news and images, I think that it's been persistent before Trump. But I think, as I said before, photography is just a utility. When we're in an election year, it just gets wrapped up in everything that's happening surrounding that circus, and it's just reflective of that. And it can be difficult to navigate and weave through. There is this sense of entanglement, but these issues, they've always persisted.
PB: Sounds like you think education is robust enough to outlast this moment.
LC: I'm optimistic.
KPA: To some degree, I think there might be even a greater visual literacy, like the photo op, the walking to the church with the Bible, and tear-gassing protesters, and then the recent ones around Walter Reed and the White House balcony, those were immediately understood and dissected as these staged, desperate acts for attention and blatant manipulations of power. So that's something to be hopeful about, perhaps. I don't think there was ever a moment when that all seemed true or transparent.
PB: Or normal.
TC: I don't get caught up in, we must vote Trump out. Yes, we should vote Trump out. But I feel like, teaching a class like Art and Activism, the activism for me is not necessarily in electoral politics. The activism for me is not necessarily in legislation. It's in grassroots movements. It's in personal choices. I happen to think everything is political. Every choice is political and has political implications. So that's what I'm teaching my students first. What are your artistic concerns? What are your social concerns? How are you acting to change that? We actually don't get caught up in talking about Trump. Fred Moten writes about The Undercommons and his place being, not part of the institution, or of the institution, but in it, and there's a great potential ground for us to be able to make change and catalyze change. As educators, I think that we're in a place to make more radical change than some of the people in the government.
PB: If images are decoupled from reality either narratively or in post-production, the response might be that, in this attention economy, people might not be being artists, but they might be pushing back in their fractional way with memes themselves. I don't want to be fearful. I want to think that meme creation is a form of art and a form of resistance and a good thing.
As much as stuff is getting thrown at my students, they're also throwing stuff back. We might dismiss it because it's 15 seconds here and 30 seconds there to create and consume. Over the years, that is a massive amount of labor.
KPA: I can never resist the conversations about too many images, or fear of too many images. But, it connects a bit to the conversation about visual images becoming more like language. And no one ever complains that there are too many words.
TC: I love memes. I just agree with what Kate was saying, they can't exist singularly. If your whole diet is memes, that's not a balanced diet.
KPA: It might have to be a bridge to a fuller conversation, right? My son is 14. He gets all of his news from memes— that's really not an exaggeration. But a lot of times, those have opened up really useful starting points for conversations. Let's talk about it. Let's fill out that backstory. Let’s take a closer look. So I think memes can be quite useful.
LC: I would say you've been able to persuade me a little bit more. As I mentioned earlier, there's this opportunity, and if you switch your perspective, and you look at it as an opportunity to engage, instead of dismiss, the material because our students— I mean, it's relevant. It just challenges us to step out of our traditional boxes and forms of education to think about the implications of these things in the future.