• Image Automation: Post-Conceptual Post-Photography and the Deconstruction of the Photographic Image

Schwab, Michael, 2008, Thesis, Image Automation: Post-Conceptual Post-Photography and the Deconstruction of the Photographic Image PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

This PhD thesis delivers an artistic research practice based on a deconstruction of the photographic image. Photography in post-photographic, digital culture has, due to changes in technology, become a matter of style while neglecting its own traditional process base. This thesis claims that similar automated processes can be found within information technology, which in the artistic realm has a strong relation to Conceptual art. A post-conceptual critique of the notion of ‘information’ in Conceptual practice allows for a repositioning of the image. Focusing on visual, transformative reflection, the thesis resists the temptation to present generalising philosophical speculation in favour of an artistic research practice that focuses on the inner, transformative workings of artworks, or the work’s ‘figuration’ as I call it, following Jean-François Lyotard and Georges Didi-Huberman.

This research project offers an artistic interrogation into the potential of post-photographic practices under post-conceptual conditions. Apart from photography, the practice employs drawing, installation art, painting and printmaking to produce work that is often conceptually developed on the computer. Much of the work consists of abstract, blob- like ‘figures’ appropriated from digital-image material, while other work is measurement- based. Figuration is advanced in each of these through constructive processes that remain visible.

A developed understanding of process-oriented practices within the digital realm, which this PhD offers, allows present-day photography to connect to its traditional diversity. The necessary re-thinking of the image, which is a key result of the research, may affect artistic practices beyond photography, giving an extended contemporary photographic practice increased artistic relevance.

The research is supported by art-historical discussions concerning the history of photography, the history of Conceptual art, and what Svetlana Alpers calls ‘the northern mode’ of painting. Technical discussions of post-photography and the notion of ‘information’ help clarify underlying processes, while philosophical considerations are used to give meaning to a changed concept of the image. Finally, a methodological discussion contextualises the research within current notions of practice-led research.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W600 Cinematics and Photography > W640 Photography
School or Centre: School of Arts & Humanities
Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2011 13:19
Last Modified: 17 Nov 2020 22:23
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/309
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