• The Photograph as a Site of Writing

Potter, Jessica, 2013, Thesis, The Photograph as a Site of Writing PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

This research project considers the photograph as a common space, a space of encounter that unsettles the relations between word and image. It calls for a thinking of the photograph alongside notions of commonality at a time of increasing fragmentation and alienation in terms of what is communicable. The project is driven by different forms of description as a methodology and mode of enquiry. These methods of description constitute a series of experiments in writing and photography. They are presented in the thesis as image and text works and accompanying the thesis as an installation of photographic works and composition of voice recordings.
The context of the research engages practices of space and everyday life along side ideas about community and commonality. Methods of description draw out the relationship between word and image, examining different particularities between writing as image and the construction of photographic sequences as a visual syntax in order to question the limits of description in relation to the photographic image and human encounter.
The process of research is framed within a series of on-going conversations that embed themselves within thinking about and making photographs. Sitting on park benches and considering the space of The Look and the work Jean-Paul Sartre, converses with a series of photographs and writings that describe a space of human encounter. The description of Charles Bovary’s Hat in the opening sequence of Madame Bovary1 by Gustave Flaubert, informs a descriptive method and thinking about the photograph as a kind of mute or stuttering face. A dialogue with Walker Evan’s Labor Anonymous photographs emerges through experimental forms of writing and cropping. This concludes in a series of 150 sentences and photographic fragments that cover the entirety of the photographs in the Labor Anonymous archive, replacing editing with a process of cropping in order to approach an anonymous space within the photographic image. The thesis ends with photographs of discarded piles of organic matter constructed through a rigorous method of writing drawn out of the phenomenology of Emmanuel Levinas and a reading of Alain Robbe-Grillet and Francis Ponges. Here the photograph is presented as an exhausted site where word and image exist alongside each other, radically passive, together — apart.
Making a series of voice recordings enables an exploration of the incommensurability of word and image approaching problems surrounding a thinking of the face, and the face-to-face encounter through the photograph. Throughout the project a problem of pronouns is evoked, an uncomfortable sense of the relations between us all in looking and thinking about the space of the image and how it can be constituted and conveyed. Processes of description developed through the different forms of enquiry call us to the urgent task of considering the photographic image as a site of commonality and a space of community.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W600 Cinematics and Photography > W640 Photography
Date Deposited: 22 Aug 2013 15:39
Last Modified: 22 Aug 2013 15:39
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/1353
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