• Photography and the face: the quest to capture the contained

Järdemar, Cecilia, 2016, Thesis, Photography and the face: the quest to capture the contained PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

This PhD by practice sets out to reformulate the meeting between photographer and subject, from one that is commonly constructed as a power relationship to an empathic meeting between subjectivities. It is an attempt to re-engage with the original promise of photography –that of connecting with the ‘soul’ of the other. I take a phenomenological perspective, applying recent research in the field of neuroscience and psychology to throw new light on processes at play, both when we view photographically reproduced human faces and when we come face to face with others in the meeting preceding photographic portraits. My original contribution to knowledge consists of beginning to construct a theory as to why certain photographic portraits invoke an embodied reaction, whilst others leave us cold. What is it that makes us look again and again at particular photographic portraits? I propose that emotional contagion is an important factor both when making and viewing photograpic portraiture. It was not within the scope of this thesis by practice to explore this proposition, but it is an area suitable for further research.
I use the practice as a testing ground, letting each new step develop out of my reflections on the previous work, using a qualitative methodology. I approach the face-to-face meeting through the writing of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and phenomenology, and make a series of experimentations, letting the practice twist and turn upon itself. I strip away and interchange the components of the photographic portrait one by one, project by project, letting my practice respond experimentally to both the theoretical research and the situation in which it is conceived. I move from still to moving and back again, through performance, text and sound, in an attempt to find that elusive embodied connection between subject matter and audience.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art
Creative Arts and Design > W600 Cinematics and Photography > W640 Photography
School or Centre: School of Arts & Humanities
Date Deposited: 12 Jul 2016 14:54
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2018 15:45
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/1834
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