Wilding photographs: exploring the turbulent and affective qualities of the material phenomenon of photography

Hughes, Alexandra (2019) Wilding photographs: exploring the turbulent and affective qualities of the material phenomenon of photography. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

Text (Doctoral Thesis)
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WILDING PHOTOGRAPHS: Exploring the Turbulent and Affective Qualities of the Material Phenomenon of Photography

Suspended above the ground, fragments of photographic imagery and material are seen in a dense arrangement of matter.… She points at a detail and states she feels there is a purposeful ‘wilding’ creating rifts and schisms between material, that disrupts expectation, throwing into question the encounter. 1:

1: Excerpt from written record of PGR Critique, Northumbria University, discussing exhibited work Filmy, 2016. (Hughes 2016)

This doctoral project operates through an exhibition based practice that brings the photographic image together with sculptural material and performative gesture to explore an embodied encounter with photographic objects. The research challenges both the identity of photographic images as ubiquitous, immaterial representations made manifest by digital technologies, as well as the predilection of photographic theory to evolve critical discourse away from the turbulent and affective qualities of the material phenomenon of photography.

The term ‘Wilding’, calls into question ontologies and cultural assumptions, through interrogative processes that return the photograph to a physical condition and mutable image in turbulent and shifting relationships with matter, preceding and open to meanings.

The research evolves through methodologies that privilege co-actions with the photographic object and other material within sensory encounters of environments. Through this approach, the research explores the construction of installations as situations for embodied encounters, accounting for the artist-researcher, a cross-disciplinary network and audience engagement, all of which serve to destabilise and re-create worlds, facilitating the examination of the boundaries of representation, material and imagination. The main question the research seeks to address is:

What are the potential effects on material, body and meaning, when simultaneously engaging with photography’s haptic, spatial and temporal dimensions?

In seeing to answer this question, the research widens critical reflection on the material encounter of photography in the social and cultural sensorium. The visceral and psychological enquiry of this project draws on key texts relating to photography’s expanded field (Baker 2005) as well as the ‘experiential turn’ (von Hantelmann 2014) and the contemporary and feminine sublime (Morley 2010; Freeman 1995). It also considers theory on ‘New Materialism’ in cultural geography, anthropology and contemporary feminism (Bachelard 1942; Anderson & Wylie 2006; Neimanis 2012; Ishii 2012) and the embodied encounter through the critical sphere of phenomenology (Merleau-Ponty 1945; Dufrenne1973) and ‘situated cognition’ (Brown, Collins & Duguid 1989).

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: expanded field of photography; photographic object, sculpture, performance and installation art; photography and cultural geography; anthropology, contemporary feminism and phenomenology, photography and feminine sublime
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Arts
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2021 12:00
Last Modified: 06 Aug 2021 12:00
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/46854

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