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Why throw the negs out with the bath water?

Macdonald, Iain


Iain Macdonald


Today’s digital age holds so much promise it is easy to dismiss the previous technologies and processes that provided yesterday’s creative opportunities. Photography has been revolutionised by digital capture and transmission in the last decade. This dissertation argues that there is a digital orthodoxy in education, which has democratised and engaged increasing numbers of students, and has had a particular influence in A Level Photography.
Over the last decade many traditional darkrooms have been replaced for computer suites. My concern is that if secondary schools and colleges with the facilities to teach film are forced to convert to a singular digital mode, we may be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Drawing on qualitative and quantative research I have undertaken at The Henley College students make their own defence for a multiplicity of learning opportunities and media that is not limited by any orthodoxy, digital or otherwise. Using the theories of Raymond Williams and Walter Benjamin this research is seen in the historical context of previous changes in cultural modes of reproduction and exposes the paradox of digital communications furthering the growing interest in the older analogue media of film photography.
Schools and colleges need to allow and facilitate an artistic curiosity that does not exclude students who are experiential learners, and those that eschew the digital age who are content with the organic variety of analogue learning that film offers. Nor should it limit the opportunity for hybrid activity that embraces both media.


Macdonald, I. (2012). Why throw the negs out with the bath water?. International Journal of Art and Design Education, 31, 191-214.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2012-06
Deposit Date Jul 9, 2012
Publicly Available Date Jul 9, 2012
Print ISSN 1476-8062
Electronic ISSN 1476-8070
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 31
Pages 191-214
Keywords photography; orthodoxy; digital; analogue; pedagogy;
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