Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Michelangelo Antonioni

A friend informed me via text message today that acclaimed director Michelangelo Antonioni heart broke. I had received a text from the same friend yesterday that Ingmar Bergman had passed on. Two masters of 20th century cinema passing on in one day. This made me think of the photography world recent loss of John Swarkowski and Ted Hartwell in the same week.

Back to Antonioni however: I first saw his 1966 masterpiece Blowup while living in Chicago, the Spring before I went off to graduate school. My friend Tom Arndt suggested it as something I should watch, and watch I did. I was not quite understanding of the nuances the first go-round, but I was extremely appreciative of Antonioni's deft interlacing of photography and music as metaphor for protest and apathy in a turbulent time.

Not until Carl Toth gave a lecture and screening of the film in graduate school did I feel like I had a firm handle on the power of this film, arguably the most "pop" of his work, but also the most subversive. At any rate, I now incorporate Blowup into the curriculum of a photographic design course I teach from time to time. Not only does it allow for students to be exposed to a representation of a time that fades more and more every day, but also to ideas of sequencing and narrative through closer exploration of their work.

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