Saturday, February 11, 2012

Love/Hate for "Still Searching" blog

The blog of the Fotomuseum Winterthur (in Zurich) was launched in January this year. I'm always looking for new photo blogs to read, so I was happy to see one with the ambition to:
" a continually growing and developing Internet discourse on the medium of photography that features a multitude of participants; it is conceived as an online debate on forms of photographic production, techniques, applications, distribution strategies, contexts, theoretical foundations, ontology and perspectives on the medium."
The blog will apparently feature various guest contributors (6 per year), and is meant to engage "anyone interested in photography and visual theory." I've subscribed to their blog, so obviously I find it (potentially) interesting. Does this mean I would recommend it to my students? Probably not, due to the off-putting language. No, not f-bombs. Worse. Puffed-up academic speech. Why, pray-tell, say "the ontological status of photography" or "epistemic fields of reference" (from Feb 5 post on "Practice") when you don't have to? Can't you just say "what photography is" and "how/what it means"?

Have you ever heard someone say that swearing demonstrates a lack of intelligence? I actually disagree. To curse or not to curse is not so much a question of intelligence as it is one of cultural awareness and choice of register. Same goes for talking about "ontological status." If you're a first-year grad student, you might speak like that to impress your professors or insecure peers. If you're a seasoned academic, you probably speak like that out of habit, much in the same way that frat brothers might constantly swear. But personally, I like a more moderate approach to both swearing and academic jargon: they should be used sparingly and in the right context.

I have nothing against academics (I teach graduate critical theory, after all), but I just have a hard time with that kind of language on a blog. Then again, maybe my idea of the ontological status of the blog, its discursive practices, and epistemic fields of reference (sorry, couldn't resist) is just misguided or overly restrictive. In any case, "Still Searching" is worth a read and I admire its ambition. Check it out and see what you think.


Unknown said...

I will check it out at once : )