Fernando Azevedo / Art History

Graduate Student Researcher
January 1998 – May 2001

Project: Photography and Place

Fernando Azevedo

I am currently in the CUNY/GSUC PhD Program in Art History, getting ready to start my dissertation on 19th-century photography. Besides working at the NML, I teach history and theory of photography at the School of Visual Arts and freelance as an illustrator and graphic designer. My trajectory up to this point has been a bit unusual. In 1982, after working as a computer hardware designer for 5 years in Rio de Janeiro/Brazil, I finally had the nerve to pursue an old dream of mine: to put my work and my heart together in the same place. Slowly, I started inching my way into the arts. The doors started to open for me in the commercial arts, where I specialize in graphic design and children’s book illustration. In partnership with my wife, also an illustrator, we published around 40 children’s books in Brazil. Through this work, we ended up in Brooklyn, New York, at Pratt Institute, where we completed our master’s degree in Fine Arts in 1991. My involvement with art expanded into history and theory, into writing and teaching. I, then, enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Art History at the CUNY Graduate Center, which lead me to the New Media Lab. Now here I am, full cycle, back into technology — the perspective, though, is a much more interesting one this time.

The fact that the NML grew out of the American Social History Project — an environment of historians, filmmakers and educators — brings to it a different sensibility, a concern for content and form, that, in my opinion, is often lacking in projects involving new media and computers. The fascination with the means (the computer tool) seems always to foreshadow any concern with the ends. In a moment in which information is usually mistaken for knowledge, when computers are being sold — and widely and uncritically bought — as the magical solution for all educational maladies, it is refreshing and stimulating to be part of an institution that not only emphasizes content and form in its projects in new media, but is also actively involved in developing critical thinking on the use of computers in education.