To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDEdspace and end it with #DoNowPhoto

For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.


Do Now

How do captions affect the way we “read” photographs? Consider what images convey when shown without captions. What is the effect of words without pictures? Which is more accurate or truthful: words or images?

Introduction

Consider recent news coverage of the Grand Jury’s decision in the Ferguson case. How does the pairing of pictures and captions in the media convey different points of view? How does the combination of images and words affect our understanding or interpretation of current events and the world around us? And how does the wording of different captions affect the way you perceive an image?

Artist John Baldessari has long been interested in combining words and photographs. In an interview with SFMOMA, Baldessari said, “It’s a myth that photography represents the truth. Photographers were manipulating imagery way, way back. If anybody believes a photograph’s telling the truth, they’re in the dark ages.” Take a look at the video below to hear more about Baldessari’s perspective on the relationship between words and images.

John Baldessari was born in 1931 in National City, California and lives and works in the Los Angeles area. His artwork, including projects such as artist books, videos, films, billboards, and public works, has been featured in more than 200 solo exhibitions and in over 1,000 group exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe. His awards and honors include memberships in the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Americans for the Arts Lifetime Achievement Award, the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, the BACA International 2008, and the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, awarded by La Biennale di Venezia in 2009. Learn more about his work by accessing the resources below.

As an extension of this activity, copy or make up random captions. Ask a friend to match photos to your captions. Share one of the pairings with us via Twitter. This activity is adapted from preparatory materials for Baldessari’s Cal Arts Post Studio Art: Class Assignments (optional), 1970.

Resource

VIDEO: John Baldessari explains his “strange mind” (SFMOMA)
Artist John Baldessari discusses his interest in challenging conventional modes of visual communication. Beginning with his practice of eliminating visually relevant information from a composition, as seen in his paintings in which colorful dots have been strategically placed over human faces, he considers the ways his imagery and text-based paintings engender new ways of looking and engaging with art.


To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDedspace and end it with #DoNowPhoto

For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.

We encourage students to reply to other people’s tweets to foster more of a conversation. Also, if students tweet their personal opinions, ask them to support their ideas with links to interesting/credible articles online (adding a nice research component) or retweet other people’s ideas that they agree/disagree/find amusing. We also value student-produced media linked to their tweets. You can visit our video tutorials that showcase how to use several web-based production tools. Of course, do as you can… and any contribution is most welcomed.


More Resources

LESSON PLAN: Open Studio Classroom Lesson by John Baldessari (SFMOMA)
John Baldessari presents several classroom art-making ideas.

MULTIMEDIA: John Baldessari Collection (SFMOMA)
Here is a list of interactive, video, and audio resources from SFMOMA about the work of John Baldessari.

VIDEO: Segment from John Baldessari’s “Systems” (ART 21)
Synthesizing photomontage, painting, and language, Baldessari’s deadpan visual juxtapositions equate images with words and illuminate, confound, and challenge meaning. He upends commonly held expectations of how images function, often by drawing the viewer’s attention to minor details, absences, or the spaces between things.


Which is More Truthful: Words or Images? 8 March,2017SFMOMA Education

Author

SFMOMA Education

Founded in 1935, SFMOMA was the first museum on the West Coast devoted to modern and contemporary art. From the outset, the museum has championed the most innovative and challenging art of its time, and we continue to exhibit and collect work by both modern masters and younger, less-established artists. By embracing the challenge of the new and unexpected, we hope to encourage fresh ways of seeing, thinking, and engaging with the world.

Supporting teachers with the critical resources to integrate arts education into their classroom is a priority for SFMOMA. The Museum's School Initiatives Division aims to provide teachers with what they need to make art an important and integral part of learning for all students.

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