It was my last year in college and I was going to graduate soon but one of the classes I needed to graduate was a beginners photography class. I had jumped through all the hoops of the assignments through the semester and finally it was coming to the final project, which I had already picked out in my mind, but it was at the end of class when the professor had brought in this video.
The video showcased a New York artist who was gaining a certain amount of notoriety because of what she was doing. She was taking pictures of objects that were painted over so that way when she took the photograph the prints came out looking like painted pictures. It was a novel idea but what struck me the most about the irony or rather the hypocrisy of this artist was how she said that, “regular photography and portraits just seem so setup. That they were setup beforehand.” And instantly, my cognitive dissonance kicked in because I felt that she was doing the exact same thing as she was criticizing. So, in essence, it was a case of the pot calling the kettle black.
And it was from this video that I began to question quite a few things. The first stemmed from a similar frustration that I was having with the publishing world that books like “Twilight” and so on were getting published and yet dozens of people who had so much better work were getting rejection letters. Myself included. Though I’m not saying my work is great but I would hope that I’m at least a step above “Twilight” and “Fifty Shades of Grey”.
In my frustration and annoyance I brought this point up with the instructor about how it seems certain creativity within certain limits seems to be more rewarded than creativity that goes beyond those limits. And that brought me to academia and how it seems that creativity is handicapped and stunted with how we, the students, go through these assignments in which so many walls, borders and boundaries are thrown up around is that we have to push our ideas through a cookie-cutter shaped hole. The words I used for this was that “our creativity seems to come out the exact same shape and consistency like some kind of Play-Dough Fun Factory.”
Of course, the instructor was not happy with me about this. She took me aside and told me never to impugn her in front of the class again.
Then there were my friends and classmates who brought up the same question that my instructor brought up in this discussion which was, “Why was I in college?” At the time I didn’t have a satisfactory answer, but looking back on it now I think that the best and honest answer was, “Because I was told to.”