16th Jul 2013 - 24th Jul 2013
An exhibition of work by four research students exploring the medium of photography. Each of these bodies of work has at its heart a concern with the way in which the surface of the photograph mediates and communicates information about the world. Nothing is certain here; the photograph is never fixed. It is always in the process of being formed, given shape by a complex dialogue between operations of desire and the technologies of production.
Peter Bennett develops a practice whereby the surface of the photograph becomes a metaphor for the fading and erasure of memory. Rachel K. Gillies explores ways in which new forms of digital corruption trouble our ideas about the stability of the individual subject. The studio backdrops in Jonathan Baggaley’s photographs are part of a complex apparatus for the production of the self, surfaces haunted by suggestions of desire and loss. Ignacio Acosta, whose work revolves around the history of copper mining in Chile, engages with the multiple ways in which the surface of the photographic image both resists and communicates political meaning, aesthetics subverting any easy reading of the document.
Last Gallery entry 4.45pm
There will be an open seminar on Tuesday 16th July in G4 next to the gallery on research in photography. The artists will discuss their exhibition work, the relationship between the creative practice and the development of a research idea, and how their work might open up debates about photography as a medium, a discipline and an art practice. This will be followed by a Private View. All welcome.
The installation of photography and text is part of a proposed cosmology of copper from its material extraction process to its status as a complex trading abstraction. Geographies are presented as a stage for mining development, revealing broken territories that are both a base for national growth and a source of wealth for multinational corporations.
Copper Documents is part of a larger investigation into the material legacy of the Chilean copper mining industry and its historical relationship with Britain, mapping their circuits of exchange and post-imperial networks. Acosta uses photography to document both the architectural configurations and the altered landscapes that result from the exchange and production of copper. He investigates the commodity as material and immaterial form, exploring the process of separation and the transformation of hard-rock mining.
This practice-based PhD programme is part of a research collaboration funded by the AHRC Traces of Nitrate: Mining History and Photography Between Chile and Britain, and involving the art and design historian Louise Purbrick and photographer Xavier Ribas. The project aims to contribute to a wider understanding of historical relationships between Britain and Chile and the role of mining in shaping a shared history.
These images are selected from a body of work that explores the commercial photographic portrait studio as an apparatus for producing visibility and mobilising the play of desire. The title Sitting refers both to the singular event of photographic portraiture and to a familiar position of repose.
A variety of strategies are employed here in order to foreground the coercive nature of commercial portraiture in its visualisation of identity and to reflect upon how this conventional practice might be linked to a particular constitution of subjectivity within the photographic apparatus. Innocuous
and nebulous backdrops appear as spatial dislocations or unsettling voids and the studio itself becomes a constricting machine for re-posing the subject according to historically and socially determined conventions.
Sitting forms the visual element of an ongoing practice based PhD. The practice seeks to isolate and highlight aspects of studio based portraiture that might be usefully interrogated through various theoretical models within the written thesis.
The Voyage explores the impermanent nature of books as repositories of memory and the material fragility of their continuing existence.
The sea forms a faint narrative throughout the images; ships are just discernable through the pages and fragments of text refer to tales of the sea. Imagined places are made all the more remote through the action of time and the processes by which they are reproduced. Many of the pages are transformed by the effects of dampness and contaminants, creating a patina of time on the surface of the paper. The books appear to have been dredged up from some watery depths, like remnants recording the lost traces of past voyages. This work is not the record of any specific journey, but represents a collection of fragmented narratives exploring how the book, as reproduced through the optics of photography, provides a means to visualise the processes of loss, forgetting and erasure inherent in human memory.
The Voyage is the practice-based element of Bennett’s research and links into the theoretical ideas explored in his thesis Bleached Out: Photography and the Aesthetics of Loss, Forgetting and Erasure. This examines how the materiality of the photograph, both in terms of its production, function and deterioration, is bound into ideas of remembering and forgetting through deeply embedded metaphorical tropes.
in mediated communication.
Portraits taken through video communication software highlight the lo-res data stream and resulting glitches that are endemic to the medium. They question whether and why we accept these erasures as the price of
our desire for an alternative type of communication. In other works, in a more conscious act of erasure, corrupted self-portraits remind us of the instability and fragility of the underlying architecture of the digital image and question the permanence of the medium.
Thresholds is the practice-based component of Gillies’ current MRes research project investigating the aesthetic of erasure in contemporary digital arts photography and exploring the impact of these practices upon the way we understand the photograph, both as a digital and an analogue image.