Let’s time travel to the 1970s, when the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) was a fun place to study. Michael Jang was a student at CalArts, a school set up by Walt Disney in the 1960s. Jang wandered about the place, aiming the Leica camera he’d bought from a wedding photographer at his classmates. “I used the camera to interact a lot, to have something to do,” Jang says. “Otherwise I would just be a wallflower. I used the camera to get myself into events and situations that I had no business being in… High school was one thing, but college is the time where you can be who you are when you’re away from your parents,” Jang says. “I really got that there. It was like whoa.”
He adds: “The pictures that you see in College are from me walking around with a camera all the time – not for my elective specifically, but rather to keep my chops together. Like doing musical scales so to speak – to be fluid. When you do street photography, you have to sense that picture coming, before it happens; you have to be in the right place and time.”
Have things changed? Says Michael:
“Yeah, it’s interesting how things have changed. There was actually a CalArts reunion a while back, and I got the invite. You know what it said on there? NO PHOTOGRAPHY. Thinking about the work, I just feel fortunate. There’s no delete button with film. There are boxes of negatives and contact sheets; everything’s still there. People today have no idea what they might be deleting. You just don’t know those things.”
That is David Hallsehoff, who was a performing arts student at CalArts while Jang was there. “This was at school dance in the main lobby,” Jang says. “Hasselhoff saw this recently, and he loved it.”
Jang crashed an event at the Beverly Hilton and David Bowie showed up. “It was just my way,” Jang says. “I woke up in the morning, saw something in the paper and said, ‘I want to go there.'”
“This is Greg, my roommate, on his birthday,” says Jang. “That is a banana shaped like a dick, which is stuck in a cake.”
“This was my roommate’s dog. We were just playing in the yard,” says Jang.
Pre-Pee-wee Paul Reubens was a theater student at CalArts while Jang was there. This was his Halloween costume.
“They used to let kids use the school’s main lobby to do whatever they wanted,” Jang says.
ang and his Leica
This is Jang’s roommate eating granola in a display case in the school’s main lobby after hours. “We decided to do a quick goof so I said, ‘Take off your clothes and get in there!'”
“I call this ‘The Thumbsucker,'” says Jang. “If you were with me and you fell asleep, I was probably going to get you.”
From Top clockwise: Dana Howard, David Kirkpatrick (partial) Michael Roberts, Denise Jimenez, Jimmy West (with super8mm), Jan Tarlin, Mike Gallegos, Rusty Gillette, Al Starnes, Deena Burkett (partial).
Ravi Shankar was a professor in the music department and gave a concert during one of Jang’s first weeks of school.
Fans of The Dils at the San Francisco Art Institute, 1978.
Before he was Kramer in Seinfeld, Michael Richards student at the California Institute of the Arts
Comic Steve Allen entertains
You can contact Michael at www.michaeljang.com. But better yet, follow him on Instagram, where he posts many more cracking pictures..