"Art making is a form of alchemy, in a way, because you are trying…to make gold from nothing. When it works very well is when you manage to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary."
The following questions can be used to spark conversation before, during, and after viewing the artist's film segment. They were compiled from our Educators' Guides and Screening Toolkits. We strongly encourage active viewing strategies that involve audiences in discussion in order to anticipate and set-up the ideas in the film, clarify content, or further the ideas while watching, and gives viewers the opportunity to process and re-consider their ideas after watching. Additional resources and strategies for teaching with films and working with contemporary art can be found in Teach.
Consider the relationship between documentary photography and art photography. Do photographs always reflect reality or truth? Can a photograph be fictional? Discuss these questions, using examples of photographs from the news, art history, and popular culture.
How has digital technology influenced the way we take photographs? How has photography changed since the nineteenth century?
Make a list of the tools and techniques that Maier-Aichen uses to alter or manipulate the images he photographs. Consider how his process includes the practices of traditional and contemporary photography.
Pause the film on one photograph, and discuss how the image conveys Maier-Aichen's interest in transforming a photograph back to an "unfinished" state. In what ways does the work reflect a more ambiguous and less conclusive approach? How does the image inspire your own interpretations of it?
Maier-Aichen takes photographs of painted maps. He describes them as being very imprecise images—that just give you an idea of a place and leave the rest to your imagination. How do these images relate to the other photographs he creates?
How does Maier-Aichen re-imagine the art of landscape photography? In what ways is his work similar to early landscape photography? How does it differ? What do his images suggest about our relationship to nature and to technology?
Florian Maier-Aichen says: "I like the idea of using the computer to actually bring in imperfections or to turn a photograph, a finished image, into a more open-ended image, so that it's not too precise or so over-determined."
How do Maier-Aichen's photographs avoid being overly determined and precise?