RISD Summer Programs course - Photography: Contemplating Trees and Plants

Photography: Contemplating Trees and Plants

During times of individual and collective trauma the natural world provides opportunities for reflective and contemplative relief. To look at plant life for a long time reveals a profoundly strange formal diversity. It also allows us to examine our own habits of vision and attention. This course engages students in exploratory fieldwork through a photographic practice, exercises in attentional immersion, and philosophical writing about trees and plants, pursuing a question about the relationship between plant life and the human experience.

Each week the instructor will provide one audio lecture, for students to listen to during an excursion intended to encounter and photograph plant life. Over the course of these sessions, students will observe their own attentional practices and challenges as they develop a conceptual gesture to be executed as a series of photographs. Basic to advanced photographic techniques are covered depending on individual student needs. Readings begin with Stoic depictions of attending to nature as a vice, a lapse in an ethical vigil over future catastrophe. Students can expect to complete the course with a conceptually coherent, edited series of photographs and a repertoire of practices for paying attention for extended periods of time. Basic knowledge of Adobe Photoshop and/or Lightroom is helpful, but not required.

Photos by Abraham Adams

RISD degree students: This course offers 3 transfer credits with pre-approval from your department head using the Prior Approval for Transfer Credit Form. Submit the signed form to the Registrar’s office and then complete the online course registration.

Course #9098
Abraham Adams

Schedule B
June 24–July 30, 2021
Thursdays + Fridays, 10 am–1 pm ET
Online, Live

Tuition $2,300
3 Credits


Abraham Adams

Abraham Adams is an artist and writer whose work addresses time and attention in the reception of visual culture. He is the author of two books, Nothing in MoMA (Punctum, 2018, with an introduction by David Joselit) and Before (Inpatient Press, 2016), and an editor of the collection Intersubjectivity (Sternberg Press, 2016). His essays have appeared in Triple Canopy, Harper’s and Artforum, where he is a regular contributor, and his artwork has been exhibited at Artists Space in New York and Galerie Barbara Weiss in Berlin. Formerly the associate editor at Zone Books and an editor at Ugly Duckling Presse, he is an MFA candidate in the Brown University Literary Arts Program in addition to teaching at RISD.