Download Full Text (4.5 MB)
Wordings from Klaus
The word document (from Latin "docere", to teach) first describes something that holds clues or provides proof, usually as written evidence. Much of the document remained in the realm of words until the mid-19th century invention of photography. Daguerre's contemporaries' amazement over the fact that the camera would depict reality quasi automatically made photography and film the quintessential documentary media throughout the 20th and early 21 st century.
Learning to question this automatic trust the technological media have been invested with from early implementations to the time of digital manipulation was a trip the students of Lingnan University's Visual Studies program were perfectly prepared for as students with serious philosophical training.
What neither teacher nor students expected was the amount of fun, the sense of adventure and discovery that was to be had in the wake of our critical discussions of works from the last few decades. Even more surprise lay in the studio aspects of the course, in the way free use and students’ talent in producing visual material enabled us as a class to communicate beyond barriers of language, conformity, academic expectation.
The way students expanded the ideas and limits of the documentary genre was much more than anyone would expect in the first and only studio class in an otherwise theory-oriented program. I was and am endlessly impressed with how willing these fledgling practitioners were to go all out, to spend days with their subjects, to study and develop relationships with topics, people, places and question everything all over again. Their willingness to go below the surface even if it was painful and to be brave enough to discuss very personal findings in public showed their sincere interest in and talent for artistic practice.
I invite you to have a fresh look at a most impressive body of work put together by artists taking flight in a medium that seems ubiquitous to the point of its invisibility. Last but not least I would like to thank my students at Lingnan University for expanding my own vision of what is and what can be documentary art making.
Klaus Knoll, PhD
Artist in Residence, Spring 2008
Visual Studies, Lingnan University
VIS 298 Studio Practice Course
Interdisciplinary Arts and Media | Photography | Visual Studies
Visual Studies Programme, Department of Philosophy, Lingnan University (2008). Studio practice course. Hong Kong: Lingnan University.