Wes Kline comes to New Mexico State University as an Assistant Professor of Photography, after teaching for two years at St. Lawrence University and six years at the University of Florida. He earned his MFA in Studio Art from the University of Illinois, Chicago (2005), his BA in Visual Art from University of Maryland Baltimore County (2003), and a BA in English from Grove City College (1996).
MFA in Photography, University of Illinois, Chicago (2005); BA in Visual Art, University of Maryland Baltimore County (2003); BA in English, Grove City College (1996).
Illuminated space all collects around a mind which possesses it.
– Emmanuel Levinas, Existence and Existents.
My research and work looks at “minor” pivots in modernist narratives, focusing recently on language, archive and landscape in relation to recent technological shifts.
My recent work functions as a series of propositions, from which I hope that we can start to approach the idea of a ‘mind possessing illuminated space’, a thought which opens out onto the photographic, political, social and ontological. I work from the position of approximation, which allows me to reproduce historical, ideological, and aesthetic sites as collections of “luminous events,” rather than fixed points in a historical trajectory. In other words, I am interested in creating sites that are imbued with political potential for exchange and modification.
My approach to pedagogy is rooted in the philosophy of exchange, rather than in the privileged voice of the singular speaker. As such, I see my role in the classroom as a facilitator of heterogenous strategies for understanding not only contemporary sites of knowledge, but of the structures that underpin the transmission of those sites. I see teaching as what Maurice Blanchot identified as ‘beginning to speak’; this is a position that embodies both responsibility and agency for every participant in the classroom.
This philosophy of exchange in relation to production derives not only from contemporary theorists like Jacques Ranciere or Nicolas Bourriaud, but from the location of the contemporary photographic image as an interface which facilitates and structures the social. Identifying the photograph as a node within a sociality suggests that the photograph is not limited to its traditional reading as generating meaning solely based on the denotative content within the frame (as in Roland Barthes’ punctum and studium), but is a progressive and vigorous interface into social relations, opening up a space for that figure of relations that seems not to simply ‘inform’, but rather to ‘form.’
The most important lesson from this examination of ‘seeing’ is to make the leap from ‘seeing’ to ‘acting.’
I structure assignments, readings, and production exercises for participants in the classroom that will enable them to speak through the photograph, and allow them to experiment with new forms for the expression of the photographic. The classroom becomes a laboratory for experimental research which is not limited to art, but extends to every discipline, using the photograph as an interface into diverse practices such as anthropology, etymology, cognitive science, biology, architecture, and history. I help the participants in the classroom to identify and research contemporary practitioners such as Francis Alys, Elad Lassry, Santiago Sierra, Thomas Ruff, Catherine Opie, Pierre Huyghe, Forced Entertainment, Goat Island, Thomas Hirschorn, and Collier Schorr, who present the photograph as a productive location for approaching the construction of a social relation through seeing.