Analogue alternatives to PowerPoint

24 09 2010

Professor Val Williams, Director of the University of the Arts London Photography and the Archive Research Centre based at the London College of Communication, has kindly allowed me to publish her responses to my questions:

Q.1. Going back to the Fashion Photography conference held in June 2005, the presentation that you gave with Alistair O’Neill really sticks in my mind because of the confident use of analogue material and the visual and creative quality this gave to the talk. Please tell me about this.

The presentation Alistair and I did at the conference was inspired by the discovery of a large collection of slides in the London College of Fashion library,these slides were accompanied by a script, which was read for us by Maggie Norden. The presentation was a homage to the slides and to the old style of audio visual presentation, which has produced many amazing productions in the past, particularly at photography festivals and fairs. Also, it is very much associated with Art History teaching (see Julia Roberts in the film ‘Mona Lisa Smile”). it would be very difficult to see this same drama produced by a PowerPoint presentation.

Q.2.a. What technologies or methods do you use to give presentations e.g. unaccompanied, slides, PowerPoint, other?

For presentations I use Powerpoint, but increasingly, for smaller groups, I have begun to use objects: books, catalogues and magazines. I find this much more satisfactory and flexible. I have become increasing less satisfied with PowerPoint, both for my own presentations, and also ones by other people that I have seen. I particularly dislike the use of text in PowerPoint, but I find it impossible to resist the temptation of using it. I now think that slides are more satisfactory and lead to a much more organic way of presenting, but there is often no longer the technology to support this and of course one is always nervous of being thought of as a technophobe, which I’m not.

Q.2.b. Please tell me how you use the technologies or methods in your teaching e.g. for specific purposes?

In a recent symposium we held at PARC*, we asked participants not to use PowerPoint at all, and this resulted in a variety of presentations, particularly by our PhD students, who held up prints and talked about them. This event was very successful, partly, I think because of the variety of the presentations.

*[The UAL Photography and the Archive Research Centre (PARC) Summer Symposium is only open to PARC members, so it is not advertised; it took place on Thursday 17th June 2010.]

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