Abraham Ravett, professor of film and photography, holds a B.A. in psychology from Brooklyn College, a B.F.A. in filmmaking and photography from the Massachusetts College of Art, and an M.F.A. in filmmaking from Syracuse University. Complementing a career in filmmaking and photography, he has also worked as a videomaker and media consultant.
Professor Ravett has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities, the Japan Foundation, the Artists Foundation, the National Foundation for Jewish Culture and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation among other awards. His films have been screened internationally at sites including The Museum of Modern Art and Anthology Film Archives in New York City, Pacific Film Archives, Berkeley, Innis Film Society, Toronto, Canada, and Image Forum, Tokyo, Japan.
Recycled Images: "Through the disorderly fund which his knowledge places at his disposal, the allegorist rummages here and there for a particular piece, holds it next to some other piece, and tests to see if it fits together-that meaning with this image or this image with that meaning. The result can never be known before-hand, for there is no natural mediation between the two." (Walter Benjamin) From Esther Shub to Joseph Cornell, from Bruce Conner to Abigail Child, filmmakers have explored the use of recycled images and created "found footage films." The allegorical use of archival and discarded footage has provided both inspiration and raw material allowing image makers to "comment on the status of the image in society or to deconstruct cinematic language."(Jacob Proctor) Utilizing a combination of weekly screenings, assigned readings in film history, theory and cultural studies, the course will provide an opportunity to engage in a critical dialogue about this evolving genre and support a forum where students can actively develop their own found footage projects.
Starting with the pioneering work of Eadweard J. Muybridge and Etienne Jules Marey and continuing into the 20th century with Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler, photographers combined their interest in the single image presented sequentially with a tandem interest in making motion picture films. The tradition of working in both mediums continued with Man Ray, Weegee, Helen Levitt, Robert Frank, Danny Lyon, Gordon Parks, William Klein, Andy Warhol, and more recently with Shirin Neshat, among others. Adding to this list one would also consider the photographic work of such filmmakers as Rudy Burckhardt, Stanley Kubrick, Wim Wenders, Sharon Lockhart and Tacita Dean. Rather than thinking of mediums discreetly, the goal of this workshop is to have students engage in the evolving histories of both mediums, move effortlessly between analog and digital technologies, and develop a body of work that embraces the links between the still and moving image.
"Certain people start with a documentary and arrive at fiction...others start with fiction and arrive at the documentary."-Jean Luc Godard This is an introductory course for students who would like to develop their interest in documentary practice. Through a combination of screenings, lectures, readings and technical workshops, we will explore a critical/historical overview of this genre and incorporate our knowledge and experience to produce individual or collaborative projects in a variety of "modes of representation. " Projects need not be restricted to a particular medium; in fact, students will be encouraged to explore the ways in which film, video, and/or animation can be utilized together.
This course teaches the basic skills of film production, including camera work, editing, sound recording, and preparation and completion of a finished work in film and video. Students will submit weekly written responses to theoretical and historical readings and to screenings of films and videotapes, which represent a variety of aesthetic approaches to the moving image. There will be a series of filmmaking assignments culminating in an individual final project for the class. The development of personal vision will be stressed. The bulk of the work in the class will be produced in 16mm format. Video formats plus digital image processing and non-linear editing will also be introduced. A $50 lab fee provides access to equipment and editing facilities. Students are responsible for providing their own film, tape, processing and supplies. There are weekly evening screenings or workshops. Prerequisite courses include a 100 level course in media arts (Introduction to Media Arts, Introduction to Media Production, Introduction to Digital Photography & New Media, or equivalent and must be completed and not concurrent with this course.) NOTE: Enrolled or top 5 waitlist students who DO NOT attend the first class session risk losing their place on the class roster.
"I think that to find what is real one must look very closely at one's world, to search for those things which contribute to this reality which one feels under the surface. These are few and one uses them to create. These are the core around which the world moves, the axis around which it turns...To be an artist means to search for, find, and look at these things; to be an artist means never to avert one's eyes." Akira Kurosawa "I want to portray a man's character by eliminating all the dramatic devices. I want to make people feel what life is like without delineating all the dramatic ups and downs." Yasujiro Ozu "My films do not treat sensational events or, for that matter, contain much drama. Depicted are images of everyday Japan and the daily lives of its people." Sumiko Haneda This course will involve a detailed study of the Japanese cinema. It will highlight works in the dramatic narrative, documentary and experimental traditions. The films screened will use the past to explore the meaning of the present, examine the relationships within families, investigate formal issues in cinematic construction and attempt to articulate broader social issues within Japanese society. Participants will be asked to complete a series of papers plus a final project based on class discussions, film screenings, and assigned readings.
Professor of Film and Photography
Mail Code PF
Jerome Liebling Center 107
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002