The History of Photography in Pen and Ink, 1646-1990
June 28 – August 5, 2016
Higher Pictures is pleased to present the work of Charles Woodard. The 60 four-by-six-inch flashcards on view here comprise the complete set of drawings Woodard made as an undergraduate in 2007 when he was a student in Nick Muellner’s notoriously difficult history of photography survey course at Ithaca College. This is the first time these original pieces have been shown and this is Woodard’s first solo gallery exhibition.
HCAH: Can you let us in on the history of how these works came to be?
C. Woodard: The original drawings came to be due to a rather monstrous History of Photography course I took in undergrad coupled with a broken printer. Since I didn’t want to pay the printing charge at the library, I opted to draw the photos that I had to study out on flash cards, and used them.
After the course was finished, I presented them to my professor at the time, since I knew he found them funny. A month later I got an email from him and his publishing partner, saying they wanted to turn the work into a book.
HCAH: So, because of these note cards, you have your first solo-exhibition…but did they actually help you pass your exam?
C. Woodard: Yes, they actually did help, which is why people like them I assume. I got an A in the class.
HCAH: What was the card that you had the most fun drawing? Which image was the hardest to memorize?
C. Woodard: My personal, secret favorite is the image of the Blind Woman by Strand. There’s something about it that is very recognizable, and also goofy about the drawing itself. Someone out in the world actually got that one tattooed on their body.
The hardest one to memorize was the image of the street by Daguerre. For the earlier photographs in the course, we had to memorize the chemical composition of each photographic style. You can imagine how complex some of those formulas were.
HCAH: Does your work as a filmmaker have any relation to photography, its history? And what do you make of flash cards, photography, and film as means for reproduction?
The style I developed in undergrad, and one that has stayed with me, was actually finding a way to marry both photography and film/videography. I was enamored with experimental animators and finding mechanical ways to abuse both disciplines in order to combine the two forms. This meant experimenting with extremely long exposures in photography and finding new and interesting ways to use the single frame advance feature on our Bolex 16mm cameras.
As for animation, one of my early film heroes was Robert Breer, who made rather simple line drawing animations that were normally reproduced from live footage of his trips (Mt. Fuji is probably his most famous.) I already had it in my mind that you didn’t need much to reproduce something that we already held in our minds eye pretty clearly.
That being said, I am not a very good animator / drawer, so I had no choice but to reduce all the drawings to stick figures, for the most part. That it still works proves my theory (I think.)
Charles Woodard received his BFA in Film, Photography, and the Visual Arts from Ithaca College in 2009 and his MFA in Film and Video Production at the University of Iowa in 2013. The History of Photography in Pen & Ink was published by A-Jump books in 2009 and is now in its second printing, 2012.