The Photographic Gaze on Archaeology
A Salon-Workshop with Dr. Michael Ashley
When: March 29, 2011, 9am-12pm
“My aim for this work is to suggest a framework for discussing vision in archaeology, specifically the vision of present viewers (archaeologists) and past viewers (our subjects). The model I propose emphasizes the human subjectivity built into seeing. For while it is possible to compare the viewing experience of one viewer to another, I contend that it is not possible to see through another’s eyes, be they the eyes of your colleague or those of someone who lived 9,000 years ago.”
Michael Ashley wrote this passage in a shortened version of his dissertation An Archaeology of Vision: Seeing Past and Present at Çatalhöyük, Turkey to be published as a chapter in the monograph report of the BACH project House Lives: Building, Inhabiting, Excavating a House at Çatalhöyük, Turkey edited by Ruth Tringham and Mirjana Stevanovic (Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press). His workshop similarly will question the apparent objectivity of archaeological photography and how we may celebrate its subjectivity as an archaeological document. Michael asks participants to bring with them examples of their own photography (or the inspirational work of others) that could challenge or support this agenda.
Michael Ashley is a Lecturer in the Dept. of Anthropology at UC Berkeley. He received his PhD in 2004 in the archaeology program of the Dept. of Anthropology, writing a dissertation on An Archaeology of Vision: Seeing Past and Present at Çatalhöyük, Turkey. He directed the media documentation of the Berkeley Archaeologists at Çatalhöyük (BACH) 1997-2003 and the Çatalhöyük Research Project 2004-2005. He is a founding member of the UC Berkeley Multimedia Authoring Center for Teaching in Anthropology (MACTiA) andmost recently of the Center for Digital Archaeology (CoDA). Michael has a long-term interest in photography as a document and as a medium of memory and interpretation. His most recent research and activities focus on the digital documentation of archaeology, the management and preservation of media resources for the long-term, the democratization of digital photographic technology, and increasing the meaningfulness of archaeological photography by incorporating it into accessible and attractive primary data and texts of archaeological fieldwork, as in his latest project Last House on the Hill.
This is the third salon-workshop presented by Archaeology and Her Muses, hosted by Dr. Meg Conkey and Dr. Ruth Tringham. We will continue to explore alternative, artistic and humanistic interpretations of archaeological material, particularly with the interest of connecting with a broad public audience. As part of our explorations the workshop will include a creative component and attendees are encouraged to bring their own works in progress.
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