Through this hybrid practice-theory PhD, I aim to examine and rethink photographic forms and image/object relations in the arts against the wider backdrop of the aesthetic regimes and counter-regimes of the Anthropocene. Following art practices which deal with a reworked tradition of still life, for example those of artist-photographer Diane Severin Nguyen (2019), I am developing a body of work studying the “bare minimum requirements for ‘life’ to be felt” in an image, in an approach which may trouble dichotomies of toxic and pure, animate and inanimate, skin and core. Central to this work is a concern with our capacities to perceive and connect with passing, perishable, and provisional physical states within non-human materials and sites, as material or bodily extensions of “the poor image” (Nguyen via Steyerl, 2009/2019). In my research, I take notice of insights from the non-human and non-representational turn, as I attempt to reclaim the optical properties of the image whilst critically embodying photography's essentialising inheritance – an optical-material tooth optics.
In its efforts to uncover or test the limits of the photographic image, this project will manifest not only as images, but also as text, materials on titanium mining, waste, rocks, subtitles and collage.
The project is supported by the Henry Moore Foundation.
Dr. Nina Wakeford
Dr. Ros Gray