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November 5, 2021

Office Hours: Milo Keller: University of Art and Design Lausanne (ECAL)

Art & Education

Master Photography with Taisuke Koyama and Tokyo Photographic Research. Installation view, (PLACE) by method, Shibuya, Tokyo, 2019.

Courtesy University of Art and Design Lausanne (ECAL).

Photo: University of Art and Design Lausanne (ECAL)/Emma Bedos.

“Materialize Photography.” Installation view, University of Art and Design Lausanne (ECAL)/Joanna Wierzbicka.

Office Hours: Milo Keller: University of Art and Design Lausanne (ECAL)

1. Why did you decide to go into teaching?
I did not choose to teach, but rather I was invited to do so by Pierre Keller, former director of University of Art and Design Lausanne (ECAL), just after graduating in 2005. I enjoyed the experience and I am still teaching sixteen years later. In 2012, I had the chance to take over the direction of the Bachelor Photography program and, in 2016, launch the new Master of Photography, the only program of its kind in Switzerland.

2. What drew you to your school and what is your teaching philosophy?
After high school, I was looking for an unconventional school to train in photography. ECAL seemed to me the best option since the Bachelor Photography program was (and still is) part of a larger department, Visual Communication. The advantage of being part of this department is being in contact with students in graphic design and media and interaction design and benefitting from transdisciplinary courses in a wider field.

My teaching approach focuses on multiple expressions. In my opinion, a school should allow the greatest access to tools of expression and not instill a unique style among its students. These technical tools must encourage the development of singular visual languages, one specific to each artist. As part of the ECAL Master Photography we work at the boundaries of the medium with workshops on computer-generated imagery (CGI), virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), photogrammetry, and installation.

3. What theory and art history do you consider most essential for your students? What artist or artwork do you refer to most often?
Here too, the spectrum is expansive. Even in teaching photography, I can refer to a Baroque painting by Caravaggio or a ready-made by Duchamp. More specific to the medium, there are key artists such as Man Ray, Diane Arbus, and Cindy Sherman, and then there are conceptual artists like John Baldessari and the CGI work of Alan Warburton.

4. How do you navigate generational or cultural differences between you and your students?
This is very interesting and important. We are reevaluating our often masculine and Western references that have dominated the creation and dissemination of images around the globe. We are trying to put our history into perspective to complement figures that are still relevant and important with artists from genders and cultures that have not been highlighted thus far.

Read more of Milo Keller's Office Hours on School Watch.

Office Hours is a new questionnaire series that gathers insights on teaching from artists. In response to ten prompts, educators reflect on the discourses and approaches that animate their teaching, share their visions for the future of art education, and offer advice for students navigating the field of contemporary art.

School Watch presents critical perspectives on art and academia. Featured profiles, surveys, and dialogues consider education in fine art, curating, and critical theory, as well as the ideas and conditions that influence practice.

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