Bleached Out: Photography and the Aesthetics of Loss, Forgetting and Erasure.
The thesis examines the aesthetic representation of memory and forgetting through the use of photographic and other visual metaphors. By exploring the aesthetic characteristics of such representation, it develops a critically informed practice and reflects upon the processes of loss, forgetting and erasure, in relation to the hastening structures of temporality that have accompanied the rise of modernity.
While the processes of photography and the materiality of the photograph itself form the main focus of the research, the secondary metaphors of the book and the sea, as represented through photography, also form a significant part of the investigation. The abstract and intangible nature of the processes of memory has engaged many thinkers in trying to fathom the complexity of its vast structure.
Since Plato, there has prevailed a perception of memory as being formed of images that are imprinted onto a receptive surface. With reference to literary and philosophical writers, such as Freud, Proust, Bergson and Barthes, the thesis examines how the characteristics of photography have provided a model upon which to project, and about which to articulate, our understanding of the processes and sensations of remembering and forgetting.
The body of practice-based work visually examines specific notions of the “bleaching out” of memory through processes of remembrance and forgetting. In doing so it reveals the extended structures of temporality and decay that exist within photography, the book and notions of the sea, as metaphorical and material repositories of memory.
The thesis concludes with the idea that through the use of specific metaphors, memory is seen as having particular aesthetic properties and structural characteristics. When viewed through the prism of photography, the processes of remembering and forgetting take on a similar appearance, the latent image that gains visibility and solidity through development, gradually fading again and melting back into the invisibility from which it was formed.