Back somewhat tangentially, to the subject of Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, I found out yesterday that one the profoundly influential educators in my own life has just died. He was Andy Cameron, the digital arts pioneer and sometime lecturer at University of Westminster. when I was student at Westminster Andy was my tutor for digital arts. Like Moholy-Nagy, Cameron was a truly inspiring lecturer and a patient, incisive teacher who asked the right questions, demanded rigours self discipline of his students and knew how to give critical feedback in a way that made it meaningful and treasured. Most of his advice, I follow to the day, and it has become axiomatic in my working life.
Andy’s own work at Anti-Rom the collective he was running when he was teaching at Westminster, was also inspiring. It showed me how collectives can work, and the stuff they produced was fascinating. However, Andy’s artwork as a photographer was also really wonderful and should not be overlooked.
Andy’s influence on me was very important. I entered the course at Westminster determined to be a classical film maker but Andy opened my eyes to the possibilities that digital technology could offer to the creative artist. Despite being a charismatic personality, he never tried to mould us into his creatures, to establish as “school” of practice of Andy-copycats and acolytes but encouraged us to find out own creative way. As a “girl” I feared technology a bit and my first experience with Photoshop did not go well. I recall to the day Andy’s crit of my work and how although the work was on the whole a disaster, what he said to me made me feel I could pick up the pieces and just plow on ahead with the tool and I’d get it right next time. Which was the case. I got very good at Photoshop and digital video and on several occasions before and after graduating sought Andy’s advice and feedback about career paths. Due to his encouragement, I decided to support my art practice and experimental film and video work with commercial work in web video and digital imaging. It wasn’t always easy, but Andy’s lectures and advice basically removed all the fear and mystery from digital-ness and made me always use it critically.
I have been lucky enough in my life to have had some very inspiring and important teachers. Andy’s passing long before his time, makes me very sad but he really left a great legacy. All of those who studied with him must have been affected in some way. For me, he taught me how to see technology as a tool, and how to be a great communicator and meaningful teacher.