MoMA plans Man­darin on­line photo course

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By HONG XIAO in New York xi­ao­hong@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

The Mu­seum of Modern Art (MOMA) is ac­knowl­edg­ing the size of its Chi­nese au­di­ence with plans to of­fer an on­line pho­tog­ra­phy course in Man­darin.

MoMA is go­ing to launch its first free on­line course in Man­darin, See­ing Through Pho­to­graphs, avail­able on on­line ed­u­ca­tion web­site Cours­era.org start­ing Oct 31.

“Even be­fore we launched See­ing Through Pho­to­graphs in English, we had hoped and planed to trans­late it into Man­darin, be­cause the Chi­nese au­di­ence is very im­por­tant to the mu­seum,” said Sarah Meis­ter, the cu­ra­tor of the mu­seum’s Depart­ment of Pho­tog­ra­phy.

“Once we launched it, we saw the ex­tra­or­di­nary suc­cess that it had, hun­dreds of thou­sands of stu­dents around the world (have taken the course); we knew that it’s im­por­tant to us to be able to make this con­tent as much as pos­si­ble ac­ces­si­ble to a Man­darin-speak­ing au­di­ence,” she added.

Us­ing works from MoMA’s col­lec­tion as a start­ing point, the course will aim to ad­dress the dif­fer­ence be­tween see­ing and truly un­der­stand­ing pho­to­graphs by in­tro­duc­ing a di­ver­sity of ideas, ap­proaches and tech­nolo­gies.

The Amer­i­can pho­tog­ra­pher Philip-Lorca di Cor­cia once said, “Pho­tog­ra­phy is a for­eign lan­guage ev­ery­one thinks he speaks.”

“There is a dif­fer­ence be­tween see­ing a photograph and re­ally un­der­stand­ing it. And I think that is a dif­fer­ence that au­di­ences around the world are in­ter­ested in un­der­stand­ing bet­ter,” she said.

“This (course) is dif­fer­ent then a tra­di­tional his­tory of pho­tog­ra­phy be­cause it is more in­ter­ested in look­ing at what pho­to­graphs mean in 2016 and in us­ing MOMA’s col­lec­tion as the point of de­par­ture for un­der­stand­ing that,” Meis­ter said.

The course was launched on­line in English in Fe­bru­ary.

To date, 212,070 learn­ers from more than 180 coun­tries on six con­ti­nents have taken the course in English. A cer­tifi­cate of com­ple­tion is avail­able for a fee upon suc­cess­fully com­plet­ing the free course.

The mu­seum im­me­di­ately be­gan work­ing on the com­plex process of trans­la­tion, but be­cause the course is so mul­ti­fac­eted with videos, slideshows and artist voices, it took con­sid­er­able time for the Chi­nese ver­sion to be fi­nally avail­able on line.

Led by Meis­ter, au­di­ences will be able to learn the first­hand per­spec­tives and ideas from artists and schol­ars about what a photograph is and the many ways in which pho­tog­ra­phy has been used through­out it nearly 180-year his­tory and into the present day: as a means of per­sonal artis­tic ex­pres­sion; a tool for sci­ence and ex­plo­ration; a method for doc­u­ment­ing peo­ple, places, and events; a way of telling sto­ries and record­ing his­to­ries; and a mode of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and cri­tique in an in­creas­ingly vis­ual cul­ture.

Course con­tent in­cludes short films, dy­namic con­ver­sa­tions, artist stu­dio vis­its, and a close look at works from MoMA’s col­lec­tion fea­tur­ing renowned pho­tog­ra­phers, artists and cu­ra­tors.

“The rea­son we chose to trans­late this course in Chi­nese is that we feel that there is par­tic­u­larly ur­gent in­ter­est in devel­op­ing a more crit­i­cal frame­work to ap­proach pho­to­graphs and im­ages that is some­thing that stands be­yond lan­guages and al­pha­bets,” Meis­ter said.

“So it seems that this would be a great first way to de­velop con­tent that would be re­ally ap­pli­ca­ble and of great in­ter­est to Chi­nese au­di­ences.”

© 2016 THE MU­SEUM OF MODERN ART

Still from the Katy Gran­nan: Boule­vard video, from See­ing ThroughPho­tographs.

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